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In Treatment returns and the doctor is in trouble

In television on 10/24/2010 at 10:12 pm

A tight frame that rarely widens beyond the walls of a Brooklyn therapist’s office/apartment. Intense therapy. Devastating revelations. Talking, talking, talking and then silence that screams and breaks your heart. And what humour there is is usually in the service of camouflaging some gouging amount of rage or pain.

Welcome to HBO’s In Treatment. Have you brought your own tissues?

In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne as the increasingly tortured therapist Paul Weston, is back in session starting Monday, Oct. 25 with a two-night four-episode stand.

As in the past two seasons, we start with new patients, but this time out, there’s also a new therapist for the good doctor himself.

The patients:

Sunil is a new immigrant, a retired mathematician and recent widower brought over from Calcutta by his son and daughter in law. Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire) plays the nearly mute Sunil. In the first outting, the character barely speaks or moves. Khan makes everything count. This character and performance are what I love about In Treatment: a study in detail and silence. This is the beautiful quiet exception to a TV schedule chock full of hyperstylization (Mad Men) and excess (from Glee to Two and a Half Men). I still appreciate those excesses, but In Treatment is a wonderful treat.

Frances is a slightly-but-definitely-over-the-hill star making her comeback in New York theatre, if only she could remember her lines. She also has a connection to Weston’s past that sparks some very unexpected turns. Debra Winger is nakedly good as Frances.

Jesse is a hostile young lad whose just-kidding aggression is hiding … well that would be telling but you don’t have to wait long to find out. Dane DeHaan is the actor. He is sweet and nasty and broken. Nice.

And Paul Weston, as played by Byrne? There are turns and turns for our hero the therapist. He’s more troubled and cranky than we’ve seen him so far. So it’s fortunate that he’s found Adele, a young therapist who appears as wily as she is patient. This turn is done by Amy Ryan, she of The Office as well Gone Baby Gone and The Wire. The first Paul-Adele session ends the two-night four-episode start to the season and it ends on a cliffhanger. Tense enough to make you require another session.

Pencil it in. The season continues with two-hour blocks on Mondays, from 8-10 p.m.

– Denise Duguay

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