A juicy drama from the executive producers of “The Closer” and “Nip/Tuck,” “State of Mind” is a smart and edgy series featuring a fresh and talented cast, solid writing, good music and a great premise. With all the swearing and sex, viewers will think they’re watching FX instead of Lifetime.
Lili Taylor, usually known for playing quirky characters, is surrounded by them here as she plays Dr. Ann Bellowes, a successful family therapist who shares a practice — as well as a good deal of personal problems — with her associates in an old Victorian house in New Haven, Conn.
Her friend and confidant, Dr. Cordelia Banks (Theresa Randle), specializes in families and adolescents, if not tact, while Dr. Taj Kalid (Mido Hamada), Cordelia’s secret married lover, is an insufferable intellectual who is forgoes the touchy feely stuff in favor of psychopharmacology.
Dr. James LeCroix (Derek Riddell), a soccer enthusiast with a heavy Scottish brogue, is the resident maverick and child psychologist whose focus is problem cases while Fred (Kevin Chamberlin) is the socially awkward office manager who keeps them all in order.
Ann needs all the help her colleagues can muster when she finds her husband and fellow psychiatrist in a compromising position with their marriage counselor. Things only get worse when she accidentally hits him with her car — hurting his ego more than his body — and then has to find a replacement tenant for his soon to be vacant office in her building.
She serendipitously finds a new tenant — as well as her divorce lawyer — in the young, idealist Barry White (Devon Gummersall), whose compulsion to do the right thing, a rebellion against his corrupt parents, makes for a refreshing addition to the eclectic group.
Ann’s recent troubles, although emotionally devastating, offer a series of personal breakthroughs and, ironically, make her a better, albeit unconventional therapist. Her emotional state has left her with strange fantasies of strangling clients and visions of her philandering husband offering advice to troubled couples, but it’s her impassioned speeches that save the day.
Characters here are given to grandiose pontification and the tactic makes it seem as if all it takes is one good lecture to overcome major life crises. As they’re well written and eloquently delivered, the device tends to work.
Created and written by best-selling author and practicing psychotherapist Amy Bloom, the show is a strong pilot for any channel. Debut seg features several guest stars in small put memorable parts, particularly Sheryl Lee and Michael O’Keefe as a couple with unrealistic expectations for their adopted Russian son.
It should prove interesting to watch as the characters develop, especial Dr. Kalid, who at this point offers little to like, while Cordelia loses a great deal of professional credibility for her head-scratching indiscretions and use of the word retard. Tough and assertive isn’t synonymous with classless.
While the fantasy episodes tend to work, the dream sequence does not — it smacks a little too much of Psych 101. Still, any show that uses a puppet to quote Henry James deserves bonus points.