Review: 'In Treatment'

Reason to watch: The third season begins, with double episodes Mondays and Tuesdays.

When/Where: HBO, Monday night at 8; Tuesday at 9 p.m.

New season of 'In Treatment' on HBO is superb

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Gabriel

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series: Gabriel Byrne, as Paul on "In Treatment" on HBO (Credit: HBO, 2008)

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Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) has noticed his hands tremble ever so slightly, and (of course) he's concerned.

His father died of Parkinson's and he can't escape the question of whether he, too, is afflicted, especially when Frances (Debra Winger), a well-known, if not-quite-famous actress, tells him that her sister and former Weston patient is dying of breast cancer.

Three new patients this season - Sunil (Irrfan Khan), a retired math professor from India whose wife has recently died from complications following heart surgery; Frances, who is struggling to remember her lines in a revival of "The Night of the Iguana"; and Jesse (Dane DeHaan), a gay 16-year-old with deep anger issues, particularly toward the birth mother he has never met. Meanwhile, Paul needs a new prescription of Ambien and is forced to go to his own new shrink, Adele (Amy Ryan).

MY SAY

"In Treatment's" third almost never happened. The string had run out on the "BeTipul" episodes this is directly based upon ("BeTipul" was a short-run Israeli series), and key producers had headed off to other shows. The writers and actors were exhausted, Byrne was exhausted, and even - if such a thing can happen - HBO was exhausted trying to get people to watch. But fans were not, and that's one reason why this treasure is back. It's best to see these new patients as refractions of Paul's own troubled psyche; he captures the truth of this with his own observation to Ryan's Adele, that they're like two mice struggling "in a glue trap."

Themes quickly start to unfold - entrapment, aging, illness and mortality - and as Adele slowly pushes open the door to Paul's cluttered psychic closet, you won't be able to resist taking a peek inside.

BOTTOM LINE

"In Treatment" deftly picks up where it left off - midpoint in the journey of Paul Weston's soul - and reminds us why we took this trip with him in the first place. The new cast is superlative, Bryne is intoxicating, and Ryan is an especially excellent addition. Bon voyage.

GRADE

A+

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