The proposition: Watch In Treatment tonight, 11:30pm on Showcase, pay TV


So, I’ve been seeing a shrink. A number of them, in fact. It really started with Dr Melfi, watching her volatile mental battles with wise guy Tony Soprano like blood sport. Then I was referred onto Dr Huffstodt, ‘Huff’ to his dysfunctional family, who dispensed sage life improvement prescriptions while suffering his own mid-life breakdown.

And now there’s Paul. Friendly enough to insist on using his first name, yet mysterious enough not to know the surname. A brilliant psychotherapist, genuinely compassionate, but his own unstable life is the Freudian elephant in each session. I think he’s my guy; my rock. Together, each night, we can get through anything.

In Treatment is highly-addictive television, from the purveyors of small screen ecstasy HBO in America.

Each half-hour episode we intrude into a real-time session with a patient, something akin to scrubbing up and watching over the surgeon’s shoulder as a brooding Gabriel Byrne clinically dissects each psyche. Five messed-up patients (including an on-the-rocks couple and a formidable doctor played by Summer Bay alumnus Melissa George), once a week, Monday through Thursday. Then on Fridays, Paul unloads on his own shrink (the divine Dianne Wiest) as lines between patients blur and his marriage falls apart. It’s like watching an intense play from the front row: all suffocating close-ups, longing stares, excruciating silences. It is utterly compelling.

And, considerably cheaper and less painful than having a shrink of your own – while still offering vicarious instruction. Where ER created an audience of hypochondriacs, shows like In Treatment have you connecting your own psychological dots – and appreciating it really is all your wretched parents’ fault. I’m booked in for another cerebral season (the second is currently airing in the States). Stay in and pull up a couch.

The details: Showcase is currently re-airing the first season in Australia on pay – there’s another episode at 11:30pm AEST tonight – though given its can’t-miss-a-second episodic narrative it’s probably best to get hold of the DVD box set. Or the download.