Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Treatment on HBO: Let's Talk About It

You have to give HBO credit for innovation.Here is a brand new half hour series on five nights a week, in the midst of a TV drought. Irish actor Gabriel Byrne plays Paul Weston, a calm and weary looking therapist. Each night he attempts to offer psychological succor to the desperate, the borderline, the boring and the unquestionably unhinged. The premier episode on Monday of this week featured "Laura", a self absorbed nymphomaniac who harbored inappropriate sexual thoughts about her therapist. Well that sounds sort of interesting. But all she did was talk talk talk about her creepy infidelities in a fidgety annoying manner. Instead of being engaged by her story, I became increasingly mesmerized, and then almost lulled to sleep by her mouth, which was shaped like a triangle. This program is very talky. Think "My Dinner With Andre", but you only have to stay awake for 30 minutes instead of a couple of hours. Other episodes this week have focused on a guilty Naval pilot, a miserable married couple and a young gymnast. There are no flash backs, and it all takes place in Paul's office where they all sit around One wishes that more talking would come from Gabriel Byrne so we could hear his lovely Irish accent, but it is the thankless job of the therapist to mostly listen. Friday night's episode will feature Paul visiting his own therapist (played by the magnificent Diane Wiest), so maybe redemption is at hand.

The best thing going for this program so far, is the fact that HBO is featuring all of the episodes in streaming video on their website. So if you have a particularly lenient workplace with a high speed connection and no firewall, it's a cool thing to watch during lunch. I'm going to hang in there and see if they pick up the pace, because the actors are top notch and Gabriel Byrne is a soothing electronic presence if you're having a stressful day.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

This kind of show can bring down the most fascinating of actors, as we saw with "Tell Me You Love Me" this past fall, and that one had skin, too! I'm sure it's fascinating in a kind of acting-exercise way, and I'll be catching up on the HBO website. And indeed, what's the use of having a yummy accent in the cast if you don't get to hear it? Does it have a voice-over? Now, that might help it along -- hear Byrne's voice while the patient is droning on! At least you'd have something to keep you interested! Great review!