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Sunday, 03 February 2008

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scrumptious

I too found myself watching this show ... all five installments ... and liking it more than I thought I would. In contrast, I had absolutely no interest in watching that other HBO "therapy" show, with all those self-involved couples whining to Jane Alexander about their sex lives.

I thought Byrne pulled it off pretty well, though I could definitely understand the "erotic transference" part. I'm pretty sure my mind would wander if I were sitting across from him for an hour at a time.

Well, not an hour, is it? You make an interesting point about the time thing. I never found myself getting bored with the lack of action...but I notice that the previews for next week show someone doing a backflip.

Two snaps up, so far.

Ahistoricality

The show's length may be a "product of generic constraints" but the decision to enact 50-minute/hour sessions could still be a choice.

Or they simply could be editing out (in the process of writing the script) the awkward pauses, conversational dead-ends, false starts and frequent pointlessness of therapy sessions. I can't imagine how fundamentally boring watching unedited sessions would be. I know how boring they are to be in....

New Kid on the Hallway

Hmm, I hadn't noticed that time issue at all, really, but it is an interesting question. I agree about the DRAMA, though - I was a little disappointed that they began with the pretty young woman in love with the therapist; couldn't they choose less of a cliche? And of course because she is so beautiful, this erotic transference seems to be troublesome/tempting for the therapist - why not have erotic transference from/by (?) someone not attractive to the therapist? That, for me, would be more interesting than seeing Gabriel Byrne tempted! torn! guilt-ridden by desire! etc. But then, I also intensely disliked the Laura character and considered her more an expression of male fantasy than a real woman.

It's funny, though, because the things that have annoyed me about the show seem, on further consideration, more purposeful; that is, I've sort of felt like the patients have come in and delivered dramatic monologues, and it felt false, until I thought about the fact that in fact, people probably do go in to their therapists with speeches prepared (I didn't, but I wasn't in therapy that long). And I've found most of the patients' self-deception rather off-putting, until the therapist went to see *his* therapist and did the same thing.

SEK

Scrumptious:

I thought Byrne pulled it off pretty well, though I could definitely understand the "erotic transference" part. I'm pretty sure my mind would wander if I were sitting across from him for an hour at a time.

I actually read a review that said that Byrne was ten years too old for transference to be a factor. Now, I say this as a dyed-in-the-wool straight male, but that's absolute, 100 percent bullshit. I would fall under his spell if I were his patient.

I never found myself getting bored with the lack of action...but I notice that the previews for next week show someone doing a backflip.

I'm not bored in the least. In fact, I'm a little annoyed when it gets too exciting. (Yes, Blair Underwood should be a little pushy ... but he reminded me more of a CEO than anyone I know in the service. Those people defer to authority, however much machismo they exude. Byrne shouldn't have to have teased that out of him.)

But yes, I'm with you -- completely captivated, despite my known aversion to psychoanalysis as theory. I think, though, this bolsters my own position that it makes for superior narrative and explication. (More on that later, though, once I've seen another week. Don't want to gush then have them go Jerry Springer on me.)

Ahistoricality,

Or they simply could be editing out (in the process of writing the script) the awkward pauses, conversational dead-ends, false starts and frequent pointlessness of therapy sessions.

The thing is, they aren't. We get the awkward pauses, the reaction shot/reaction shot/reaction shot/reaction shot sans dialogue all the time. There's just a damnable disconnect. That said, I don't know how boring sessions are to be in, as I've only tried it a few times, and they weren't uninteresting, just ... useless? Not-as-useful-as-I-anticipated?

New Kid,

That, for me, would be more interesting than seeing Gabriel Byrne tempted! torn! guilt-ridden by desire! etc. But then, I also intensely disliked the Laura character and considered her more an expression of male fantasy than a real woman.

You know, that was one of those moments when I could tell the show had Israeli origins. I mean, that's not a male thing, so much, as I think it's a Jewish male thing. Not to sound like a self-loathing antisemite Jew, but there's something about this notion of transference that strikes me as being so Jewish in origin -- something about the attractiveness of intellection ... pretending, for a moment, that critics are right about Byrne's unattractiveness -- that seems silly like my people are. Don't know where I'm headed with that, but yes, I agree, they shouldn't have started off with that case. To be honest, the couple would've been the best starter, if only because by Friday we would've forgotten he snapped and it would've been that much more surprising.

It's funny, though, because the things that have annoyed me about the show seem, on further consideration, more purposeful; that is, I've sort of felt like the patients have come in and delivered dramatic monologues, and it felt false, until I thought about the fact that in fact, people probably do go in to their therapists with speeches prepared (I didn't, but I wasn't in therapy that long).

That actually rang true to me, but then again, I've read a lot of psychoanalytic theory in my day, so that's not surprising. (The appeal of the show to me, an avowed critic of psychoanalysis who still, despite everything, can't help but find it's self-authorizing logic appealing, is something I should talk to my therapist on my blog about.)

Chuck

I'm going to try to write something up a little later, but I'm impressed so far. The Roland Barthes reference may come from the Israeli original, but that's just a guess. Not sure how closely the scripts adhere to the original. Agreed on Gabriel Byrne. It's not at all improbable for transference to happen with him.

scrumptious

SEK: Byrne is not ten years too old for ANYTHING.

Fans self.

scrumptious

Chuck:

"Israeli original," eh?

Do you suppose that might explain the slightly-over-the-top military guy?

Uri Segal

Scrumptious, I've seen the original but not the American version. However, articles over here (all proud of how, for once, America's copying something from us rather than vice versa) state that your version is an almost exact translation, apart from settings, etc.- I remember the article pointing out one bit, where in the Israeli version a discussion regarding money- perhaps earnings? - is edited out, because it wouldn't go down with with American mores. Anyway, the military guy (in the original) is not at all over-the-top in Israel, yes; perhaps one or two traits lean lightly to caricature, but you could find plenty of guys resembling him over here.
Uri

SEK

Chuck,

I've no doubt the Barthes reference comes from the original. It just seemed so ill-fitted to the show -- I mean, if they were going to make it, they should've done something more with it. Instead, they made it sound like the guy who made it was a handyman ... and if he was, there's an interesting backstory to his familiarity with French postmodern thought.

Scrumptious,

Do you suppose that might explain the slightly-over-the-top military guy?

I think it does. As Uri notes, the character works in the Israeli setting, but there's an element of distance/proximity that makes the Israeli version work. When you stretch it half a world away, the extreme nature of the effort, the magnitude of what he's undertaking -- and the difficulty he'll have doing it, as an enlisted officer -- makes it very unrealistic.

All that said, I'm looking forward to tonight's episode and seeing what they do with the erotic transference subplot.

scrumptious

I'm looking forward to the backflip.

Smiley face goes here.

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