Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NY Times-Alessandra Stanley's Review of HBO's "In Treatment"

Gabriel Byrne as therapist Paul Weston in HBO's "In Treatment": Paul Schiraldi/HBO
(Story reported by Alessandra Stanley for the NY Times)

Therapy is out of fashion and almost off the air.

Tony isn’t discussing his dreams on “The Sopranos” anymore. “Huff,” a Showtime shrink played by Hank Azaria, is long gone, and “Head Case,” a send-up of psychiatry on Starz, was also canceled. HBO shut down “Tell Me You Love Me” after one season. All of Toni Collette’s multiple personalities in “United States of Tara” are on hiatus until next year. Neurotics and sociopaths are still rampant, of course, from a serial killer on “Dexter” to a teacher turned drug kingpin on “Breaking Bad,” but for the most part television characters carry on without counseling or medication.

Except on “In Treatment.”Monday’s season premiere on HBO picks up Paul Weston, the moody therapist played by Gabriel Byrne, pretty much where he was left off: fragile, chastened, but still in the business of healing.

This is the third season and the first that relies on original scripts instead of adaptations of episodes from the hit Israeli series “Be’ Tipul.” The first seasons were faithful adaptations, and, remarkably, it took only a few minor adjustments to transpose the psychic pain in Tel Aviv to Maryland and Brooklyn.

When it began, the American version was praised for not seeming like a knockoff of the Israeli series. Now it’s a compliment to say that Season 3 does: Paul’s relationships with his new patients are as finely etched as before. The writing may seem a little less sophisticated — each session offers incremental insights about the patient that can seem a bit pat or forced — but over all “In Treatment” is still an absorbing dramatization of psychotherapy.

(Click here to read Alessandra Stanley's full review of HBO's "In Treatment" on the NY Times website.)

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