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In Treatment - Complete HBO Season 1-3 [DVD] 
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IN TREATMENT S1-3 (DVD/S)
HBO's first half-hour drama gives new meaning to the term, "appointment television." Adapted from a popular and award-winning Israeli series, In Treatment in its first season aired five nights a week for nine weeks beginning in January 2008. Each episode eavesdrops on a weekly therapist-patient session. "The magic happens" (as one observer sarcastically remarks) in the home office of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne in his Golden Globe Award-winning role). Monday's patient is Laura (Melissa George, 30 Days of Night), a doctor who reveals in a harrowing "about last night" monologue in the first episode that she is in love with Paul. Tuesdays bring Alex (Blair Underwood, Dirty Sexy Money), a cocky fighter pilot whose last mission over Iraq went horrifyingly awry, earning him the media tag, "The Madrassa Murderer." Wednesday's child, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska in a breakout performance) is a teenage Olympic hopeful in need of an evaluation following a near-fatal bicycle accident. On Thursdays, Paul meets with Amy (Embeth Davidtz, Matilda) and Jake (Josh Charles, Dead Poet Society), whose rocky marriage is further shaken as they wrestle over whether or not she should get an abortion. Fearing he is losing patience with his patients, Paul turns to his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest in an Emmy-winning performance), with whom he had a falling out years before, to talk out his own troubles. The therapist whose own personal life is unraveling could have either been bad sitcom or static and stagey talking heads. But with its insightful writing, powerful performances, and deft, unobtrusive direction, In Treatment avoids the pitfalls to become an intensely gripping drama. Each episode thrives on what Laura calls "the back and forth stuff," the soul-searching and the questioning that strip away the defenses of each damaged character, including Paul himself, who has his own demons to confront as he becomes further estranged from his neglected and resentful wife, Kate (Michelle Forbes, True Blood), and grapples with his feelings for Laura. This series is something of a career breakthrough for Byrne, a celebrated character actor (Miller's Crossing, The Usual Suspects). As the rumpled and weary Paul, he is more compelling just sitting and listening than many actors are in action. Quality programs for adults that deal with the human condition are at a premium on television. For anyone whose psyche has been scarred by so-called reality TV, In Treatment is excellent therapy.
In its superb second season, In Treatment remains the gold standard example of discomfort television; not discomfort as in the cringe-worthy comedy of awkward pauses (The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm), but discomfort in the intimate and primal issues most series avoid or reassuringly attempt to wrap up within the hour. "The kind of therapy I practice, it's not a quick fix," Dr. Paul Weston (Golden Globe winner Gabriel Byrne) tells one of his four new patients. "It's a process, and eventually change happens, but it does take time." It's time well spent in the company of Byrne and an exemplary Emmy-worthy ensemble. Hope Davis, John Mahoney, and Dianne Wiest seem incapable of sounding a false note, but the revelations this season are two young newcomers, Alison Pill as an architecture student who refuses to tell her mother about her recent cancer diagnosis, and Aaron Shaw as Oliver, a child caught in the crossfire of his parents' anything but amicable divorce. The format is unchanged from Season One. Each daily half hour "session" mostly plays out in real time, with some illuminating glimpses of Paul outside his relocated Brooklyn office. Davis's Mia is a hard-driving lawyer and a former patient of Paul's, with abandonment and intimacy issues after he ended her therapy 20 years before. Mahoney's Walter is an embattled CEO suffering from a recent wave of panic attacks. Wiest reprises her Emmy-winning role as Gina, Paul's former mentor whom he visits on Fridays. They have much to talk about. His "mess of a life" includes a recent divorce, a $20 million malpractice suit brought by an embittered father (Glynn Turman reprising his Emmy-winning role) who blames Paul for the possibly suicidal death of his son (a patient from Season One), and the passing of his own estranged father. "I'm caught between heaven and hell," Paul tells Gina. In its raw emotion, In Treatment is hardly escapist entertainment. "Last week I had nothing," Mia wails at one point, "now I feel less than nothing." But, as Paul assures her, this is ultimately a good thing for these desperate characters (and viewers) seeking closure. "Thank you, Paul," Mia allows. "That was a good session." And a great season. --Donald Liebenson
Rumours of In Treatment's death have been greatly exaggerated. The half-hour HBO drama that was originally adapted from an Israeli TV show has continued to flourish among devoted fans in spite of wide-ranging critical opinion about its integrity and entertainment value. Nevertheless, season three is an absorbing continuation of the life and practice of psychotherapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne), and the tortured processes he undertakes with patients and with himself. Continuing the format of episodes that focus on individual patients--only three this time--then concluding each week with his own therapy session, season three is the first based on original scripts rather than adaptations of episodes from the hit Israeli series Be' Tipul. The new show runners, Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman, follow the previous design in assigning the same writer to script for each patient. The only other major thematic difference is the absence of Dianne Wiest, whose Emmy-winning performance as Paul's mentor, supervisor, and therapist was the highlight of seasons one and two. Fortunately her replacement, Amy Ryan, is as capable an actor and strong a foil to give Paul's panoply of problems a whole new arena for discussion (TV vets Epstein and Futterman were responsible for writing the Amy Ryan "Adele" scripts).
Anyone who has experienced the psychotherapeutic process cannot help but be instantly drawn in to the show's eloquent design of talk-and-listen, as secrets are told or held back, fears and desires explored or repressed. Even those who are perfectly adjusted and scoff at the value of psychological treatment should be fascinated by the twists and turns that mostly seem entirely naturalistic, and better yet, unexpected. The 50-minute hour that is shortened to 20-something for dramatic purposes may sometimes play against the realistic portrayal of the professional dynamic, but after all, this isn't reality. Even so, the episodes crackle in their basic form as one-act plays that thrive on nothing but two people trading razor-sharp dialogue about who they are and what they're thinking. Paul is still listening, and he's entirely engaged. The flow of each session reflects the depth of his perception as he leads himself and his patient back to points, gestures, and remarks that may have been made in passing, yet which represent the basic spectacle of the therapeutic process and the essential role the therapist has in that relationship. We understand that what goes on in his office affects him as much as his patients.
That's where Amy Ryan comes in as the young, brilliant psychiatrist who Paul sees at the end of each week to bare his own tortured soul. He's still terribly depressed. His ex-wife is remarrying, he's plagued with guilt over his 12-year-old son, and he has terrorized himself into believing that he's becoming his father, even to the point of being convinced that he'll die of the same disease (Parkinson's). At first Ryan comes off as the perfect psychiatric ice queen. But as their connection deepens with knowledge, insight, transference, counter-transference, and enthralling exchanges of actorly acrobatics (their butts never leave their seats!), she becomes perhaps the show's most compelling character. She's in great company with Debra Winger as a patient who plays an aging actress (though decidedly not typecast) who finds work elusive and is facing some ordinary family struggles as well. Not only does she look terrific, Winger brings the best game she has to her sparring-match scenes with Byrne. As an anguished gay teen, Dane DeHaan is the weakest character. He's saddled with annoying adolescent stereotypes that seem to be thrown into the show's mix just for a proper portrayal of patient demographics. Best of all is the Indian actor Irrfan Khan (best known for The Namesake and Slumdog Millionaire) as a maladjusted immigrant whose inscrutable nature fascinates Paul. As the most glaring example of how Paul's relationships with his patients sometimes slip into the inappropriate, the two become friends of sorts, even into the ultimate and unforeseen conclusion of this sensational seasonal thread. In all, In Treatment continues to be an engrossing dramatization of psychotherapy, made human by excellent writing and gripping characterizations. --Ted Fry
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Top customer reviews
Each series sees a few different patients, but you get to see their whole journey through therapy, as well as how the therapist copes with listening to his patients. You even get to watch his own therapy sessions with his own therapist.
You don't have to be interested in therapy or psychology to enjoy this show. It can be emotionally draining at times, quite sad and very cerebral, but the positives at the end make it all worthwhile.
Ultimately this is a beautiful, original series with very challenging roles for its actors, all of which are played perfectly.
I was looking forward to it and then The first 'session' with his client Laura seemed slow by tv drama standards not therapy standards. I questioned whether I would be able to maintain this pace through out the series. But by the next client I was intrigued and by the end of the therapists first week I was completely hooked. I soon decided the best way to view this series is as a whole week of clients and supervision at a time. (I e in a whole block) the sessions with each client build upon one another and come together when the therapist brings his week to his supervisor.
This series is dark, intriguing and heavy. AND addictive. I can recommend it to anyone interested in human psyche, psychotherapy and subtle complexities of relational dynamics. It is also facinating from a film maker/play writers
perspective as the images created in ones mind when watching are built up predominantly through the dialogue between client aand therapist rather than through filmic interpretations, and scene changes.
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