When I was watching the Golden Globes last year, I eagerly anticipated the Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama category. I had tuned in pretty much just for this moment: to see Mad Men
's Jon Hamm
get up there and make an acceptance speech. After gorging myself on two season's worth of the delicious Mad Men
in record time, I was 100% sure that he was a shoe-in to win.
Surprise! The Golden Globe went to Gabriel Byrne
for In Treatment.
From that moment on, I knew I had to check out In Treatment
...I mean, if you can beat Jon Hamm's tortured, pefectly reined in depiction of Don Draper as far as acting goes...somethin's up.
Season 1 is finally out on DVD and I've been watching it here and there for the past few
weeks. The reason I've been moving so slowly on it is there's a whole lotta show...as in, one half hour, five nights a week...9 discs worth of show! Is that some kind of record or something?
Anyway, the show is great. I have to say though, if you don't enjoy slow moving character studies, this is not the show for you. It's simply about a therapist and his patients, one patient per half hour episode, five nights a week, with the fifth night reserved for Paul (Byrne)'s own session with the fabulous Dianne Weist
as Gina, his therapist.
What's so good about this show to me is that it is all about details and slow reveals. You might think a show that is this seemingly simplistic would be dull as tombs, but for me at least, there is great pleasure in the writing and the layers to each character that slip off weekly like the skin of an onion. I applaud its creator, writers and directors for working so deftly and interestingly within such spareness.
So, after having a good gander, do I think the Emmy is deserved? Well, yes, because the show really allows Byrne to act subtly, to keep a great deal of emotion boiling just below the surface -- moments are registered much more in his expression than verbally, and that takes en pointe skill and precision, particularly to keep such a conceptionally bare show interesting. He also is the only actor who is in every single episode of this epically produced series, so he's got a whole lot of material to get through and does so with ease. But do I think he should have won over Jon Hamm's tour de force as Don Draper...? Nah. I think Hamm's performance is one of my favorites in TV history. But both Mad Men
and In Treatment
are finely acted, worthwhile and compelling television.