Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy, Season 1 Episode 1 An Old Flame

Showtime has picked it up, but won't be airing it until 2011. But you can have an on-line shrink session with Lisa Kudrow as Fiona Wallis on the cyber hit, Web Therapy. Very much in keeping with the sensibilities of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Web Therapy's dialogue is improvised, and it's protagonist is a curmudgeon with very little need or patience for the quiet desperation of others. In fact were it not for the fact that her patients provide monetary compensation, she'd sooner they be just that---quiet. This dame makes Larry David seem warm and fuzzy. Fortunately for viewers, Fiona's strongest commonality with Mr.David's misanthrope: she is extremely funny.

Forget about traditional 50 minute Freudian couch sessions. For starters, when asked, Fiona's kind of vague as to whether or not she has legitimate psychiatric credentials. In any case, she will only have sessions with her patients via webcam. Also she could not care less about dream analysis, and the sessions are limited to 3 minutes. Wallis' reasons for employing this 3 minute maximum "modality" [a word she uses as if it's a mantra] is that to her reckoning, when she did see patients for 50 minute sessions, the breakthroughs achieved almost always occurred within the last 3 minutes of the session. So, she concluded, skip the useless blathering the of previous 47 minutes and cut to the chase. The ostensible goal being, faster session faster healing. Of course Fiona's true motives are not in the least altruistic. Her therapeutic modality is being shopped around to investors for the purpose of marketing it for books, dvds, tv shows, seminars, etc.

Now in it's 3rd season, Web Therapy has great guest stars: Jane Lynch, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Courteney Cox, Steven Weber, Alan Cumming, Victor Garber, Rashida Jones, Selma Blair, Molly Shannon, and Bob Balaban. Not for nothing, but Fiona exhibits behavior that indicates she could benefit from a few sessions with a shrink, and for considerably longer than 3 minutes. i don't want to do a spoiler for anyone who, like myself is new to watching Web Therapy, but i will tease that in the series' second season and third seasons, Fiona is compelled by law to have a therapy session, and we get a glimpse into her private life that reveals the catalysts of some of her neurosis.

In season 1, episode 1 [An Old Flame], when a former associate schedules a session with Fiona, she ends up stalking him. The associate, played by Tim Bagley, with brilliantly understated comedic timing, works at an investment firm, Lachman Brothers, with whom Fiona's trying to get financing, and with whom there was an issue of sexual harassment when Fiona was in their employ, with her being the alleged harasser. The vantage point of the audience is as if they can see the sessions through the patient's and Fiona's computers. When you see Fiona's screen [she uses an Apple computer] in the upper left corner of the desktop, is a thumbnail for a file which reads "Lachman Brothers Evidence.doc". The subtlety of that sight-gag delivers a smart laugh. That's part of the beauty of this show. Even if it's sometimes done in a passive/aggressive way, it brings the funny.

Web Therapy, is produced by Lisa Kudrow and her production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and is sponsored by Lexus. New episodes are added on Wednesdays and can be viewed at lstudio.com and at the lstudio channel at YouTube. Come 2011, we'll post the specific Showtime network air dates when that information becomes available.

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