The ‘Treatment’ Begins

Intreatment11Therapy scenes are dangerous.  Given the opportunity to let characters open up in ways they generally wouldn’t, writers run the risk of overwhelming the dialogue with craft and significance. And the result just feels leaden.

The reality is that conversations between therapists and clients can be as roundabout as any other.  Revelations don’t come out of a machine like gumballs, after all.

Not everyone fell in love with HBO’s “Tell Me You Love Me.” For some, the pace of the show was too slow and/or the characters were generally too despicable. But the therapy sessions were given room to breathe — you really got to see the struggle — and viewers who stuck with the show, I believe, generally felt rewarded.

Beginning Monday, HBO upped its counseling ante considerably with “In Treatment,” which will offer five 30-minute therapy sessions a week. (Though HBO sent out numerous episodes to critics for an advance look, we won’t get ahead of ourselves at Season Pass.) The show opened on a somewhat disconcerting note for me, as the session with Laura (Melissa George) felt filled with calculated melodrama. Certainly, you want something dramatic to capture the audience’s attention, but there’s a fine line between getting involved in a character’s problems and wanting her to just get over herself. That was an issue during parts of “Tell Me You Love Me,” and the “In Treatment” premiere skirted that line.

Still, there was some electricity by the end of Laura’s session, and viewers tuning in were left with reason to think the show could go either way: the rewardingly dramatic or the off-putting melodramatic.

— Jon Weisman