I started watching this show due to my interest in psychology and the great actors who were in it: Gabriel Byrne, Diane Whiest, Embeth Davitz, Melissa George. About 5 to 6 episodes into it I realized it was nothing like the television I was used to. The stage where the events take place is Paul's office, the camera switches between the patient and the therapist in a representation of a therapy session that is not only realistic, but almost real. The session is delivered to us in its full extent, while the events themselves are not the external, active incidents which occur in the patient's life but the impact these have on the patient's psyche. The emotional reactions, the hidden complexes, the changes and transformations the patient goes through, these are the real excitements in this show. Isn't it true for all of us? It's not what happens to us in itself that bears the importance, but the way we interpret it and the way we react to it. Paul plays an active part in provoking these changes in his patients. In fact he's a very good therapist! One that doesn't adopt a cold, detached attitude towards the person sitting opposite him, but gets involved and cares about what happens to them. On the other hand he doesn't tell them what they want to hear, nor does he indulge their reluctance to really face the problem. He forces them into it while at the same time he is sensitive to their needs and their ability to deal with it, estimating expertly the degree to which he should direct them into their problems.
At the same time Paul has a messed up emotional and family life of his own, since his father, who was also a therapist, abandoned his mother when he was a child for one of his patients. The fact has colored Paul's life as well as his attitude towards his profession. He doesn't want to repeat his father's irresponsible decision. Laura, a charming and troubled patient of his, complicates things when she states she is in love with him. His marriage is crumbling due to his wife, Kate, feeling utterly neglected. The interesting thing is that we learn all this through the sessions and some furtive moments before and after them, that take place in Paul's house. Instead of force-feeding the information to us, the show gradually lets us form our own impression of the facts, and draw our own conclusions from them. Not unlike how therapy works actually. I think the strongest characteristic of this show is the way it is presented, direct, immediate and real, allowing the viewer to fully participate in the process as if it were their own therapy session. Gabriel Byrne portrays Paul wonderfully, and that goes for all the other actors as well, everyone does their best to create realistic characters we can empathize with and understand. It's more real and relevant than anything I've seen in television for years, and I honestly don't understand why it stopped. Fingers crossed for a next season!