So HBO has announced that it’s not renewing In Treatment…in its current form. This is sad news for those of us who’ve grown to love our hushed but emotionally electrifying sessions with Gabriel Byrne’s Dr. Paul Weston.
But HBO is also saying this: “We are in continued conversations with the executive producers to find another way to continue telling these rich stories.”
With that in mind, here are some suggestions.
• New therapists and patients Byrne’s Paul could join a group practice (the man is always looking for companionship anyway, right?) and thus provide a logical new structure to the series: following one therapist with one patient. I open the floor to nominations for potential Treatment-givers. My short list for new therapists or patients would include:
–Henry Ian Cusick (The man who played Desmond Hume from Lost would make a fine sounding board for patients.)
–Martin Sheen (I’d nix his son [see below], but Martin as either a therapist or a patient? Could be great.)
–Seth Gillian (As cop Ellis Carver on The Wire, Gillian had a stillness about him that as a therapist he might find useful.)
— John Noble (Why not? The Fringe star a great actor who could probably find time in his shooting schedule to film a batch of sessions at once.)
–Paget Brewster (Newly freed from Criminal Minds, she’s a fine dramatic actress — as she proved on Showtime’s Huff — with a flair for humor.)
–Brian Batt (You know him as Sal from Mad Men, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see him as an utterly different sort of character, either patient or therapist?)
–Gugu Mbatha-Raw (She costarred as the wife/spy in the short-lived Undercovers; let’s see what she’d do with a role in a more contemplative show like this.)
–Stephen Fry (The British actor, writer, comedian, and champion Tweeter would be excellent in either capacity, therapist or patient.)
• Sign Gabriel Byrne for a limited number of episodes immediately It’s understandable that the guy would be exhausted by now: Filming those half-hour sessions, the bulk of whose verbiage and reactions fall to Byrne, must have a high burn-out factor. Nonetheless, Byrne is the darkly brooding soul of In Treatment, and he must come back to anchor the series — for continuity and quality — but perhaps showing him with only one patient per season.
• New format Much as hardcore fans loved the original four patients-five night structure of the show, it was confusing or off-putting to many more casual viewers. Here’s my suggestion: a weekly, hour-long In Treatment, with two half-hour sessions, with two casts alternating weeks (similar to what Law & Order: Criminal Intent did). Thus you’d have four therapists, four patients, and happiness among lovers of dramatic psychotherapy.
• No stunt casting The quickest way to turn off In Treatment fans would be to salt in a few controversial or overexposed personalities whom TV executives who think they have a sense of both humor and ratings savvy might be tempted to use. Thus, no invitations to Charlie Sheen, Betty White, or, oh, I don’t know, Sarah Palin, please.
What do you think? Who would you cast as a therapist? A patient? Which of the show’s previous patients would you like to see return? (Mia Wasikowska’s gymnast? Dane DeHann’s gay teen? Melissa George’s obsessed-with-Paul neurotic?)
Let me know, below; thanks.