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Herc’s Seen The First 12 New Episodes In 17 Months Of HBO’s IN TREATMENT -- Now With Amy Ryan and Debra Winger!!

I am – Hercules!! First a paragraph without spoilers. Know that HBO only ordered four half-hour episodes (instead of five) per week for the third season of its psychotherapy drama “In Treatment.” Two episodes (dealing with patients named Sunil and Frances) air Mondays; two episodes (dealing with a patient named Jesse and Paul’s own therapy) air Tuesdays. While the sessions with Sunil may be the most entertaining, the ones that analyze 57-year-old psychotherapist Paul himself are the most compelling. Paul’s longtime mentor and psychotherapist, Gina Toll (Diane Wiest), has moved on to a new career and is no longer available to analyze Paul. 57-year-old Paul is now divorced from Michelle Forbes’ character and sleeping with a 37-year-old named Wendy (played the busy Susan Misner, who in the last five years has scored recurring roles also on “Jonny Zero,” “Starved,” “Night Stalker,” “Conviction,” “Vanished,” “Rescue Me,” “The Bronx is Burning,” “Gossip Girl” and “New Amsterdam”). Paul has a scary new personal problem that has nothing to do with Wendy. He goes to see a psychiatrist to get an Ambien prescription renewed and ends up seeing her on a weekly basis. Paul’s new analyst is Adele, played by the Amy Ryan, a series standout who delivers here a brilliantly dialed-down performance. Ryan may be on some kind of one-woman crusade against typecasting; her character here is so different from HR exec Holly Flax from “The Office” or mousey cop Beadie Russell from “The Wire” or meth-head Helene McCready from “Gone Baby Gone.” And none of those roles were anything like the others. If you have to limit yourself to one half hour of “In Treatment” per week (which is not my advice), I say tune in to the Tuesday sessions with Adele and Paul. Tonight’s first patient, Sunil, is a Bengali math teacher played by Irrfan Khan (“Slumdog Millionaire”). Sunil, widowed six months earlier, was very recently brought to New York from India by his Osteopath son Arun (“Damages” vet Samrat Chakrabarti) and his American literary agent daughter-in-law Julia (Sonya Walger of “FlashForward” and HBO’s “Tell Me You Love Me” fame, but likely still best known as Penny Widmore on “Lost”). In the Bengali culture, we’re told, it is a great shame to seek psychotherapy, but Sunil seems severely depressed, so he goes anyway. I note that at one point in the third episode Sunil puts his hand comfortingly on Paul’s shoulder. Wasn’t there just an episode of NBC’s “Outsourced” built around how taboo a hand on the shoulder was in Indian culture? Was that just wrong for a man to do to a woman? Or is it just taboo in Mumbai? I’d be curious to know if “In Treatment” or “Outsourced” got this right or wrong. One of the cool things about the Sunil segments is it seems to give us a window into a distant culture. Sunil turns out to be easily the most likeable character of the season. Frances, a narcissistic 51-year-old former movie star, is played by 55-year-old Debra Winger in her first recurring TV role since she played Wonder Woman’s kid sister back in the ‘70s. Preparing for a Broadway production of “Night of the Iguana,” Frances keeps forgetting her lines. It sounds like early-onset Alzheimer’s to me, but Paul keeps her talking about her disaster of a personal life, which includes a recently ened 16-year marriage to a Columbia professor, an estranged teen daughter and the dying sister who utilized Paul’s services more than a decade earlier. My least favorite episodes so far this year focus on Jesse (played by 23-year-old Dane DeHaan of the Lifetime TV movies “At Risk” and “The Front”), a promiscuous 16-year-old homosexual who has just learned his birth mother has been trying to contact him. He skips school, lies, deals Adderall, pries into Paul’s personal life and constantly badmouths the Catholic couple who adopted him. Most frustratingly, in his third episode he continues to claim he has not called his birth mother back. He’s a character hard to care about and harder to like, though I did grow invested in his adoptive mother’s plight when she turned up in Jesse’s third episode. 9 p.m. Monday. HBO. 9 p.m. Tuesday. HBO.
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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 25, 2010, 5:13 p.m. CST

    When it comes to this format, I don't like change.

    by V'Shael

    I really fear HBO may have fucked up by changing the 5 night a week format. It works SO well in Season 1 and 2, and I don't see any need for it to change except for the fact that this season is HBO "original" material, not based on the Israeli show, and they just wanted to stamp their own individual mark on it or something. <p> I will of course still watch it, since it is without doubt one of the best things ever made for TV.

  • Oct. 25, 2010, 5:58 p.m. CST

    Loved the first season, but.....

    by SydBarretsMyDad

    my issue is that in watching the first season, I found myself connecting to ALL the characters, not just Byrne's. I realize the premise of the show means that each season brings new patients, but I already know before watching the second season and the third that I'll miss Laura and Jake and Amy.....especially Embeth Davitz who oozes sex. Ah well.

  • Oct. 25, 2010, 6:53 p.m. CST

    The Sophie episodes were my favorite from season 1

    by Rebel Scumb

    But I agree, all the characters were great. I've seen most of season 2, except for all of the Gina episodes, and it was all out of order, but I plan to go through all of the second season before I start downloading season 3. It took me forever to figure out that Laura from season 1 was the hot hooker from DARK CITY

  • Oct. 25, 2010, 9:17 p.m. CST

    Irrfan Khan

    by S-Mart shopper

    was awesome in The Namesake

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 12:37 a.m. CST

    Yes, I have heard that the Amy Ryan does a lot of good work!

    by MrMysteryGuest

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 2:58 a.m. CST

    HBO Fanboy but I hated the therapy scenes on the sopranos

    by strykebr

    sorry aint my cup of tea

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 4:34 a.m. CST

    The therapy scenes on the Soprano's? Not comparable.

    by V'Shael

    Rent the DVD's from Season 1, and watch a few. You'll see very quickly that Melfi and Tony Soprano will be the furthest things from your mind.

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 5:02 a.m. CST

    My favorite HBO show.

    by liesandpicturesofalsolies

    The Wire is better crafted and Sopranos has the history, but for me In Treatment just sings like nothing else I've seen on television. It's introverted drama of the mind and heart seems so honest and true that it has a huge effect on me. It sounds hyperbolic but I just love it.

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 8:52 a.m. CST


    by AdmiralNeck

    I think the show dropped an installment because Gabriel Byrne was completely burned out by the shooting schedule for the first two years. He almost didn't come back for the second season: Rodrigo Garcia quit after a year, and his replacement Warren Leight left after the second year. HBO won't give the show enough money to extend their shooting schedule, so they're literally filming while the writer sits on set, feeding lines directly to the actors and working on the next episode. This is probably the only way we got another season, by lowering the workload. It sucks, but four episodes a week is better than nothing.

  • Oct. 26, 2010, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Love this show

    by theGoldbergV

    Now if Sky would just get round to showing season 2 I'd be happy because season 1 was amazing. I agree that you come to identify and care about all of the characters, but I found the Sophie episodes the most affecting. Its pure drama, no explosions, no gimmicks, just 2 characters in a room talking. Awesome.