Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'In Treatment' in Danger of Being Canceled?

What the heck is wrong with the folks at HBO?

In the past few years they've lost The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. They've attempted to buck up their roster of shows with the fabulous Big Love (one of the most unique shows on TV right now) and True Blood (although I don't do vampire). But Curb Your Enthusiasm has been AWOL for eons and Entourage has been wildly uneven, though I still tune in like a bad habit.

HBO's once cutting-edge programming is facing stiff competition. On FX in the form of the pitch-black Rescue Me. On Showtime in the form of the brand-spankin' new Edie Falco-driven Nurse Jackie and Toni Collette's United States of Tara, along with other shows such as Dexter, Weeds and Californication. HBO famously took a pass on the award-winning buzzy Mad Men when Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner pitched it to the premium channel. Now Don Draper is seen on AMC, not HBO.

And here HBO has this wonderfully complex, emotionally wrought drama, In Treatment, for which its lead actor, Gabriel Byrne, has won a Golden Globe for his role, which has also been lauded by TV critics. It just completed its second wonderful season and, in the wake of unimpressive ratings (about 1.6 million on average, Broadcasting & Cable reports), HBO execs have placed the therapy drama on the bubble. The announcement of whether the show will continue for a third season will be made this week.

Fans of In Treatment -- perhaps learning from Medium's experience (an NBC exec said there hadn't been any outward expression of love for the program, so it was axed, only to have CBS snap it up) -- aren't taking the precarious situation that faces the fictional Dr. Paul Weston sitting down. According to Newsday, fans are encouraging fellow In Treatment supporters to send boxes of Irish Spring soap (seriously) to HBO's HQ. Why soap? Because Byrne's Irish, I guess. Folks who enjoyed NBC's Lipstick Jungle recently tried to save the Brooke Shields show from cancellation by sending tubes of lipstick to NBC, but didn't succeed. (Television Without Pity had a good piece about fan campaigns to save shows, some which worked, some which didn't.)

As far as In Treatment goes, HBO execs would be foolish to let the exquisitely executed, intelligent drama go, especially with Byrne -- and several of the other supporting castmates from this season -- poised for near-certain Emmy nominations. I thought HBO was supposed to be just the right home for that kind of show. Isn't that why I subscribe to it?

Image credit: HBO.


TouchedByThPoet said...

Yes Meredith, we read somewhere that some viewers encouraged network executives to renew a show by sending peanuts. I jokingly suggested that maybe we (IT fans) should send bars of Irish Spring in an attempt to plead for a third season while reminding the execs at HBO that a third season MUST include Gabriel Byrne.


Meredith said...

Well it's certainly a unique way to plead the case for an insightful, smart, quality program. Good luck. I hope it helps keep the show alive.

Larry OBrien said...

The real tragedy is the cancellation of Terminator: Sara Connor Chronicles.

You should also check out Breaking Bad on AMC. Not since Oz has a cable series made me so tense.

By the way I read your column in Parents and Kids Paper yesterday. Kent Golden Lights!! LOL.


I also has a facebook...

Meredith said...


I love Bryan Cranston, from his days with Malcolm in the Middle. I SHOULD check out Breaking Bad. It's got fabulous buzz. I'll put it on my Netflix list.

Sara Connor Chronicles had devoted fans.

SarahCat said...

It's True Blood, not True Love (just for the sake of accuracy)

Meredith said...

Doh! Gonna go fix that error right now! Thanks SarahCat!

Elinancy said...

I second your opinion that HBO is the perfect home for shows like "In Treatment". Here is an excerpt from the letter I sent to them:

For years, HBO has told its viewers, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” Well now is the time to put your money where your mouth is. You’re right. . .it’s not TV. If I wanted TV I would be happy with endless hours of mindless reality shows and stale plotlines. I subscribe because it is HBO and I expect quality from you. You do things differently. You made the commitment to bring In Treatment to us. Don’t take it away now.

Anonymous said...

Just started watching 'In Treatment' on Netflix and besides having my own case of Transference with Paul (Gabriel Byrne) I am addicted to this incredible show. My daughter and I are literally on the edge of our seats watching these episodes. Amazing acting, writing, directing. Can't believe it will be cancelled.