In Treatment, which premieres tonight at 9:30, and will air a new episode every night for the next five weeks. The show follows silver fox Gabriel Byrne, who plays a psychiatrist named Paul Weston. Shows airing Monday through Thursday take place exclusively in Paul's office, and follow his treatment of a specific character (for instance, every episode that airs on Mondays concerns sessions with Laura, an anesthesiologist who is experiencing a relationship crisis; Tuesday shows focus on Alex, a blustery Navy pilot played by the delicious Blair Underwood; Friday episodes show Byrne with his therapist, played by Dianne Wiest). Critics are divided about the show — the New York Times calls Treatment "hypnotic," while the San Francisco Chronicle finds Treatment "profoundly boring." The rest of the critics analyze the Treatment, after the jump.
New York Times
Some things sound simply awful: a family reunion holiday cruise, an all-you-can-eat haggis buffet, a television series set entirely in a psychotherapist's office. In Treatment, however, is hypnotic, mostly because it withholds information as intelligently as it reveals it. Each night a new half-hour episode follows a different patient's session. In every session the patients' words are veined with allusions and elusions, clues to problems or patterns that are invisible to them but absorbing for the viewer.
San Francisco Chronicle
The series aims for a rawness that depicts the troubled aspects of people in crisis written with intelligence and deft emotional shading. Where In Treatment actually ends up, however, is quite different. The writing is forced and thin, some of the acting stagey, most of the characters unlikable and - the show-killer quality that HBO execs apparently failed to see - profoundly boring... At its worst, In Treatment feels like an Oprah show without the commercials.
It all makes for lots of great soapy intrigue, and Byrne makes you believe he can solve everyone's problems. Except his own.
In Treatment's intensity does build as the weeks progress, but it's never completely absorbing, and you wonder how many viewers will commit to such a demanding regimen even with multiple plays to catch up on missed half-hours..."Don't assume that everybody who comes to see me is miserable," Paul protests at one point. But they are, as well as a bit too nutty to make HBO's latest merit a regular appointment.
Los Angeles Times
At times the construct of two or three people sitting in a room talking for half an hour becomes stagey, and the level of antagonism each patient aims at Paul in almost every episode strains not only believability (surely grown-ups would not waste their money talking about their therapist's failings when they could be talking about themselves) but also the dramatic pitch.
It's hard to imagine anyone sitting through this show in anything close to its entirety outside of Byrne's immediate family, and even some of them would lie about it...Unfortunately, even at its sporadic best, In Treatment comes across as no more than an actor's exercise, one likely to be best remembered for providing future acting students with a large supply of two-character scenes for class projects.
Truth be told, it's a little addictive to hear these deeply intimate secrets revealed. And as the patients tell their stories - or edit their emotional lives to make them appear a certain way - Byrne is asked to do a lot of reacting, which he makes endlessly interesting. He does an impressive job of appearing to be the impassive therapist while indicating Paul's complicated inner life. It's worth seeing the program just for his nuanced, truthful performance, but the other actors are generally quite strong. Wasikowska, in particular, is quite a find.
The series may prove irresistible to a viewer in its fullness. In Treatment has the allure of smart drama spiked with juicy eavesdropping. And as further reward for the devoted viewer, the seemingly distinct daily narratives begin to seep from one to another — collecting in Weston's agitated psyche, where the real story resides.
Four Days, A Therapist; Fifth Day, A Patient [New York Times]
HBO's 'In Treatment' Painfully Boring [San Francisco Chronicle]
In Treatment [Entertainment Weekly]
In Treatment [Variety]
In Treatment [Los Angeles Times]
'In Treatment' Has Some Issues [USA Today]
'In Treatment' 5 Nights A Week? Here's Why That May Not Be A Bad Idea [Chicago Tribune]
HBO Drama Has Interesting Format [Houston Chronicle]