Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Treatment, In Retrospect

In Treatment concluded its second season on HB0 last week, I'm up here on Cape Cod at the end of a splendid weekend, so I thought I'd say a few words about this splendid series.

First, let me just say - or, reiterate, because I've probably said this before - that In Treatment is like no other show on television. It does what The Shield did with brilliant plotting and jolting action, what Lost does with labyrinthine mind-bending story telling, with just ... talk. And that's saying a lot, because the classic take on all television drama is you need more than just talk.

Mia's talk - the first of the five threads this season - was ok and enjoyable. But the happy ending - the smile on her face, and on Paul's, when they say goodbye, and she says she'll be back next week, after declaring she's finished with Paul's therapy, was one of the best in two seasons.

April's was a much more powerful story, from the beginning. She has cancer, needs therapy, and has told no one except Paul. He has no choice but to take her - but that fractures the patient-therapist's relationship. So she's bound to leave. But not before she tells Paul that Sophie - whom Paul saved last year from suicide - wrote on a Web for evaluations of therapists that he had saved her life. Paul's always at his best with people much younger - and older - than him.

Oliver's was an excellent segment - though his parents, like Jake and Amy in Season One, were a little obvious. But Paul's demonstration that he and Oliver could still talk, even though he was moving upstate, was great. Telephones do make our lives easier, they have since the day they were invented, as I pointed out in my Cellphone book.

Walter - the fourth patient - was my favorite this season, and right up there with the very best of the two years. It was classic psychotherapy - Paul gets Walter in touch with the little boy in him that he had shut out for most of his life. And though all the acting - especially Gabriel Byrne as Paul - was marvelous this year, John Mahoney as Walter was in a class by himself.

Paul as Gina's patient was different this year than last year - Paul was much more combative, and more closely mirrored with Gina what his patients were doing with him. So, unsurprisingly, but still very well rendered, Paul tells Gina that he's leaving...

I'd be surprised if Paul was not back in her office next year - assuming there is a next year, and HBO renews In Treatment. Hey, HBO - you'd need to have your heads examined if you don't.

8-min podcast review of In Treatment

See also Back in Treatment on HBO ... Back in Treatment: Three More Fine Times ... 2.1-2: Fathers and Daughters ...2.3-5: A Senior, A First Love, A Boy and His Turtle ... Sleep and Ethics

And Season One reviews: In Treatment on HBO ... 2. Scalding ... 3. Triangle ... 4. Love and Death ... 6. Paul's Greatest Strength ... 6. Paul's Boat ... 7. Alex in the Sky with Diamonds ... 8. A Princely Performance ... In Treatment Concludes (For Now)

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

more about The Plot to Save Socrates... good reading if you're in a doctor's office...

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