List Price: $59.99 Deal Price: $38.99 You Save: $21.00 (35%)Rumors 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 sexual and 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 (known primarily in the United States for The Namesake and Slumdog Millionaire) as a maladjusted immigrant whose inscrutable nature fascinaExpires Oct 18, 2011

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