Contest! Prize = Season One DVD! Winner Noted in Comments Section!

In honor of In Treatment Season Two, here is a contest.

These two gentlemen seem to be having an interesting conversation. What are they saying?

Fill out the comments box of this posting with an appropriate caption for this picture.

Be sure to include your name and email address. Your email address will not be published; it will be available only to us.

Yan and I will judge the best entry and the winner will receive a brand new In Treatment Season One DVD.

Be creative! Be funny! Be psychological! You have until May 1, 2009.

Let the game begin. :-)

byrneholicscontestpicWhat can they be saying? Paul is listening…


Talking Therapy and More

Salon : Heather says in the blog I Like To Watch:

…the acting on this show is so incredible that it’s hard to remember that there’s any acting going on at all.

She also (astutely, I think) observes that

In Treatment’s ambivalent take on therapy is a big part of what makes the series so engrossing. Even as the show’s writers capture the narrow, un-self-aware perspectives of each character and celebrate the work of therapy, they also underscore therapy’s shortcomings. The “healthy professional boundaries” of therapy are often exposed as unrealistic, demanding superhuman acts of self-restraint by Paul or any other therapist…

Psychology Today : Carla Cantor, author of Phantom Illness: Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Hypochondria, as well as an editor at Rutgers University, tells us that Dr. Paul helps her, too:

But what happens psychodynamically in almost every session – the unraveling and the breakthroughs that might take months or years sped up for the sake of the medium – is the most realistic depiction of psychotherapy I’ve ever seen on screen…

There are many reasons to love this show, adapted from the successful Israeli series Be’ Tipul: the powerful dialogue, the masterly performances and Byrne’s extraordinary portrayal of Paul Weston, the handsome, caring and well-trained psychoanalyst with troubles of his own for which he is in treatment. But that’s all been said. What I don’t think has been said is how gratifying the series is for a person who has struggled in therapy – talking, talking, talking – for many years.

Vulture, Devouring Culture : this blog over at New York Magazine has a running short feature on the show. “What’s the Meta, Paul?” Heh heh.

Jewish : useful background info on the original Israeli series and how it has been “translated” to the US:

The premiere last Sunday of the second season of In Treatment on HBO marked a milestone in television history in both Israel and the United States.

Slant Magazine: The House Next Door : Libby Hill’s great blog posting provides an in-depth overview of the first five episodes:

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That seems to be what the individuals running HBO’s series In Treatment are telling us with the first batch of episodes of its sophomore season. Back in the therapist’s chair as Dr. Paul Weston is Gabriel Byrne, whose portrayal of Weston manages to make the character the best and the worst therapist of all time.


On the Couch with Gabriel : And finally, the man himself, in an interview with Barry Egan, who always asks interesting questions and gets intriguing responses from Mr. Byrne.

Here’s the part about In Treatment:

Gabriel is currently playing one of American television’s most famous shrinks — Dr Paul Weston, the compelling therapist on HBO’s drama In Treatment.

“I think in this day and age, when people are generally more stressed and traumatised than they would have been years ago, people have an even greater need for therapy,” Gabriel says.

“The function that a community — friends, neighbours, extended family — traditionally served has changed. And the structure of society has changed, which means that more people are alone and more people are cut off from that kind of support.”

Gabriel has had real-life shrinks walk up to him in the street in New York to tell him that his portrayal of their profession on television is both truthful and accurate. Harvard and Yale are referencing bits of In Treatment in lectures on psychoanalysis, he says.

His voice drained, Gabriel is exhausted from five solid months of shooting the hit show. “I am in every shot of every scene,” he says. “There is no getting out over the wall and escaping. It is very, very intense, because it is just two people in two chairs. There is a lot of dialogue to remember. There are no action sequences. There’s no guns. There’s no car chases. It is basically just you and the chair. So, it is the most difficult kind of acting: reacting.”

Reacting is really listening, he says. He adds that to really listen to someone — and for them to be heard — is one of the highest compliments that you can pay another person. “On screen you are obviously listening more than one time to something, so trying to find new ways to listen is one of the challenges of the role, but reacting is a very subtle form of acting.”

In terms of the role he is playing, I remind Gabriel of a conversation we had many years ago when he expressed severe doubts about the psychology profession. He said he didn’t trust its exponents. He has clearly changed his mind.

“I think Irish people tended to be a little bit cynical about the notion of paying people to listen,” he says. “I think that’s an Irish thing; that we were brought up with that idea that people talking about themselves is all, just as you say, self-indulgence. But isn’t the whole purpose of life to get to know yourself?”

The unexamined life is not worth living, to quote what Socrates said at his trial for heresy.

“Exactly,” Gabriel laughs. “Without navel-gazing, it is really about trying to understand what you do and why you do it and hopefully live a more contented life for yourself and, as a result, for people around you. The Americans call them ‘issues’. That everybody has their ‘issues’. And Irish people are no different to Americans.”


Talk, talk, talk. I don’t know, Gina. Does it really work?
Yes, Paul. It does. But you have to talk truth.


Homage to Byrne

Gabriel Byrne is inspiring, as you will see:

1. Music: Mix inspired by In Treatment [this link no longer exists]:

“Gabriel Byrne is the only actor who could play Paul. His magnificent acting in this stellar drama inspired this mix called “I wear this crown of thorns upon my liars chair full of broken thoughts I cannot repair.”

2. Art: His Eyes Were Blue :

“I saw a full page ad for the HBO series In Treatment, which was a full page image of Gabriel staring into the lens, his blue eyes looking as honest, as open, as genuine and real as eyes can look; and I had to stop and just stare…”

3. Furniture: Chairs, Chairs, Chairs [the Seating Zone website is no longer available] :

“If you want to emulate this great character and actor, you might try the Fasttrack leather club chair — stylish and comfortable enough for a TV star, priced for the rest of us.”

4. Politics: The Daily Kos : Maureen Dowd calls him “brooding.” Oh, no! [this article no longer exists on the Daily Kos website]

5. Food: The LA Times : Regarding the 2007 Kurt Angerer Grüner Veltliner Kies (a white wine):

“And at less than $20, you can afford to have some on hand to take to a dinner party or maybe uncork one night to enjoy while watching Gabriel Byrne parse a new set of patients’ problems on HBO’s In Treatment.”

6. Marketing: Digital Strategy :

“I’m glad HBO’s In Treatment is back. It was my favorite show last year although it was painful to watch sometimes. I love stories that feel real, as opposed to, say, reality TV. I’ve never been in treatment (yet) but this show felt spot on. And Gabriel Byrne is amazing. So what does this have to do with marketing? Everything. Gabriel Byrne’s character is a perfect metaphor for good marketers. People always come to you with a perceived problem but our challenge is to dig deeper to find deeper meanings, reasons and measures of success.”

7. Dating: Tribe of :

“The boundary-challenged therapist in the HBO series, In Treatment, is now a single man…Is he ready for a dating relationship? Would you be willing to date him so soon after divorce?”

Um, I’m afraid the answer to that would be YES.



Meet In The Lobby for “In Treatment”

Meet in the is a great place to view clips from In Treatment, Season 2, get a blow-by-blow analysis of the filming techniques, great background information on the actors and stagecraft of the show, and some plot analysis.

“Before diving in with plot summaries and reviews, it’s worth saying that Gabriel Byrne’s portrayal of Paul is as well-developed and controlled as ever, and the series’ writing is the reason In Treatment is completely habit-forming.”

I think they offer us everything we need, except the Milk Duds!


Milk Duds, Paul. That’s all I really want.


Coming to a Couch Near You–From a Brooklyn Blog

Perhaps the most fun blog posting about In Treatment yet:

In Treatment, far and away the best TV series of all time, began its analytic life in Israel.  The therapist was an Israeli Jew and so were his patients.  As a result–unlike the situation in Jewish families in the US and Europe–fathers, living and dead, dominated  every single character.

Closely translated into English, the series moved to suburban Maryland, with fathers still posing serious psychic problems for their children.

Now HBO is sequelizing In Treatment.  The therapist has moved his home and his practice to–where else?–Park Slope.

Maybe because Brooklyn’s now the off-center of the universe; maybe because two of the main performers, Gabriel Byrne (Brooklyn Heights) and Hope Davis (Carroll Gardens) live here.

Thirty-five half-hour session-episodes begin tomorrow.  Now it’s the turn for Mom to burn.

gbbrooklyn-20090410postingDoes Hope live here, too? Wow.


The In Treatment Season Two Buzz!–Updated

This list will be updated as various news outposts provide their reviews of the second season of In Treatment. I must say that the initial buzz is overwhelmingly and gratifyingly POSITIVE. Hooray! Everyone seems to have finally figured out what WE have known all along!

Posted April 18:

The National Post (this article is no longer available at The National Post website)

Robert Cushman admits–

“I was very sniffy about the first season of In Treatment. I said that this show about a psychologist and his patients was just another medical soap, more highfalutin than most, but still focusing on the practitioner rather than on those practised upon. I have to eat crow. The second season strikes me as being a quantum leap on its predecessor, but this isn’t because it’s abandoned the things that, first time around, I felt were flaws. It’s kept them, pushed them even further into the centre and proved them to be assets.”

Crow never tasted so good, eh? Good for you, Mr. Cushman!


Posted April 10:

The Los Angeles Times : Mary McNamara offers a video review and a print interview (at the link provided), as well as a formal review of the show. Watch the video for a great overview of the new season and some comparisons to last year. Read the interview to learn more about Gabriel’s effect on his colleagues and why he might want a vacation right now. And read the review for more of this:

With his crookedly handsome face and sad, sad eyes, Byrne’s Paul is obviously a man who has too long been giving what he has not gotten. ‘I hate my life,” he says to Gina in one early episode. ‘It’s broken. Every day, it hurts . . .’ “

The Boston Globe :

“… In Treatment belongs to Byrne, who won a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for best actor last year. It’s almost incongruous that Byrne spends most of his screen time sitting down and watching, since his performance is so rich and dimensional…[he] makes the huge task of appearing in almost every scene of this series seem effortless.”

The New York Times : Michelle Orange analyzes the show’s move to Brooklyn and takes a closer look at the writers.

“The show is sort of designed for theater writers,” said Marsha Norman (“ ’night, Mother”), who wrote the new season’s Paul-Gina episodes. “Who doesn’t want to write a two-character play where people sit in chairs?”

“And I just think Gabriel is heaven,” Ms. Norman added, laughing. “I would watch him sit and think about being a therapist, much less actually do it.”

Entertainment Weekly :

In Treatment is simply the most addictive TV show on the air (in the cable wires?). As I settled in for a new round of advice and repressed memories, I was reminded of the therapist’s famous last line in the Philip Roth novel Portnoy’s Complaint: “Now, vee may perhaps to begin, yes?” Yes. Grade: A”

PopMatters : an overview of the second season, with tons of spoilers, but insightful writing makes being spoiled fun. Read at your own risk.



Posted April 2:

Star-Ledger (New Jersey) : Alan Sepinwall is a big IT fan. He offers three articles: the review, a blog posting with info about how he plans to post after each week’s episodes and provide a venue for conversation about the show, and a behind-the-scenes article with lots of juicy inside info from showrunner/head writer Warren Leight and director Paris Barclay. From his review:

“One of the demons Paul is fighting with Gina is his need to be a savior to all his patients… But if that hero complex is bad for his psyche, it makes him both the kind of doctor any patient would be lucky to have and a very appealing, albeit flawed, main character on this incredible, underappreciated drama.”

Newsday (this article is no longer available at the Newsday website) :

“In Treatment fans will fall into this new season like a chocoholic falling into a vat of sundae sauce…Byrne is brilliant and – for the most part – so is this fine and absorbing show.”

The New York Times :

“If it is possible to find pleasure in other people’s psychic pain — and obviously it is — there is no better place for it than in the therapy sessions that begin on Sunday night.”

Be careful! This review is teeming with spoilers for Season Two.

Chicago Tribune “The Watcher” Blog :

“Weston is a caring — possibly too caring man — whose professional demeanor doesn’t quite mask his conflicting impulses. He’s clearly intelligent, yet he sometimes makes poor decisions; he has a temper, yet he can demonstrate great patience, especially with Oliver (Aaron Shaw) and Walter, who thinks therapy is a joke. It’s hard to picture any other actor making the contradictory aspects of this passionate, self-doubting man come alive in such a realistic way. Yet even when Weston is silent, the resourceful Byrne makes the therapist the compelling center of most sessions.”

The review includes an interview with Gabriel Byrne.

Time Magazine :

“Byrne is terrific in what may be the toughest role on TV today, and not just in terms of sheer verbiage. Paul is both sounding board and active agent, constantly thinking and teasing out his patients’ agendas and issues while betraying, in his slightest inflections, the personal feelings that come pouring out in his sessions with Gina…” And the review continues: “But like a successful patient, the show has learned and grown, becoming more reliably compelling.”

The Wall Street Journal :

“It’s not surprising that the HBO drama series “In Treatment” returns for a second season (Sunday, 9 to 10 p.m. EDT) with its radiant intelligence intact, its merciless revelatory eye again trained on everyone in view…” And the review continues: “The distinctive power of this character Gabriel Byrne inhabits with such unfailing mastery has all along been built on hints, then proofs, of vulnerability, a haunting sense of failures in his personal life and chances missed.”

The San Francisco Chronicle : Tim Goodman recants:

“While I stand by my [first] review, based on the earlier episodes of Season 1, I’m willing to confide that Season 2 hooked me a lot quicker and I like the series a lot more now. Call it what you will – personal growth or Season 2 being less cloyingly self-conscious… It’s a strong cast, and Byrne and Wiest continue to deliver incredibly mannered and minutely shaded performances. It’s quite a breakthrough.” :

“Byrne, Davis, Pill, Mahoney, and Wiest should all be considered for Emmys. The writing should be a slam dunk to take home awards. TV simply doesn’t get much more genuine or dramatically rewarding as In Treatment, this year or any other.”

Genuine and dramatically rewarding. Well, if you say so…


Salon Interview: Gabriel Byrne Feels Your Pain

Sarah Hepola interviews Gabriel Byrne about his role in In Treatment:

About the character of Paul Weston and the actor who portrays him:

“…he has always seemed darkly mysterious and inaccessible, which of course made him all the more dashing. He may be stuck in a chair for 30 minutes on the show, but he still comes off as a romantic hero, even if the character — deeply flawed as he is — is somewhat antihero….”


“You mentioned listening. For the audience, part of the drama of each show is watching Paul as he listens, trying to decode what’s going on in your mind as you hear these people’s stories. And I always wonder, how do you calibrate how much to show about what you’re thinking?”


“That’s one of the big acting challenges, to convince people that you’re thinking something and also to give them the illusion that you’re not letting the patient know what you’re thinking. It’s a delicate thing to do.”

Read the entire interview.