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In Treatment: Season 1 Review

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HBO have done it again, this time on a couch.

★★★★

Therapy is a very un-British thing: self-indulgent, deeply revealing and downright slack-upper-lipped. As a profession it must rank with chiropody and being Michael Barrymore’s publicist in the gets-you-up-in-the-morning-with-a-bounce stakes. As a format for nightly 26-minute TV dramas, it’s riveting.

With In Treatment, HBO has delivered another hit, intelligent and hypnotically addictive, but this show has very little in common with Sex And The City or The Sopranos. Central to each of the 43 (yep) episodes in this set is Gabriel Byrne’s Dr. Paul Weston, an expert in behaviour who is barely able to keep his own life together. Onto his couch fall a traumatised fighter pilot, quarrelling couple, suicidal teen gymnast and young female doctor with whom Weston himself is secretly in love. In one episode in five the roles are reversed, and Weston becomes patient to his rival and mentor, Gina, played with quiet gravitas by Dianne Wiest. The safety of a therapist’s room, all tasteful furniture, art books and model boats, plays host to a series of dramas revealing human foibles in all their variety — lust, jealousy and vanity, to name a few.

Based closely on Israeli show Be’Tipul, the series has been showered with awards in the US. It’s drawn flack for being too stagey, but with so much wallpaper programming out there, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of must-watch, not just must-see, TV.