In Treatment's Gabriel Byrne courtesy Lacey Terrell/HBO In Treatment's Gabriel Byrne courtesy Lacey Terrell/HBO
The when: Premieres Monday, Jan. 28, at 9:30 pm/ET on HBO, and airs thereafter Monday through Friday over nine weeks. Why watch?: HBO's newest drama examines the professional practice and private dramas of a psychotherapist, played by the electrifying Gabriel Byrne. The genius part is that the guy's a real jerk - but he's a master at hiding his angry side when he's in sessions. A sweethearted softie in front of his patients, his dark bitterness only comes out in sessions with his own therapist, played by Dianne Wiest, and occasionally in spats with his wife, portrayed by Michelle Forbes. The premise is a talky one, and its setting can feel claustrophobic - the whole thing takes place inside one room, after all - but Byrne's patients are so mesmerizing that I stayed up all night watching the first two weeks of episodes. (That's right, I spent five hours watching people talk in a room, and I was rapt.) Byrne's patients are petty, phony, manipulative and combative but I'll be damned if they're not just vulnerable enough to be lovable; within minutes I found myself changing my mind and rooting for every one of them. Who says that Showtime is the new HBO? With

In Treatment HBO is showing us that it's not gonna give up its Emmy-magnet crown just yet. Who's who: What a knockout, drag-down cast. Besides heavy-hitters Byrne and Wiest, we've got Alias' Melissa George playing a sexually provocative siren, we've got Blair Underwood as a cocky, possibly closeted Navy man with a traumatic military past, we've got Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz as a mismatched, infighting couple trying to decide if they should terminate their pregnancy, and we've got astonishingly talented newcomer Mia Wasikowska playing a suicidal, possibly abused teen. This cast is magnetic, and their stories are addictive. But the biggest shocker? The script is often totally hilarious! Say what?!: In Treatment was exec-produced by, weirdly, Mark Wahlberg, and is based on the critically acclaimed Israeli show of the same name. The five-shows-per-week format, inspired by actual psychology practices, is also taken from the Israeli series' unique scheduling format. Another exec producer, Six Feet Under's Rodrigo Garcia, directs the first episode. What do you say? Is this all-talk, no-action new series just another overwrought Tell Me You Love Me, or is it an inventive, fresh premise that breaks new ground? Will the success of The Sopranos' therapy sessions only end in HBO typecasting itself? Let it all out in the comments section below. - Michelle Heller More Strike Survival guidance: " CSI Exclusive: The Secrets Behind This Week's Repeat " Movies-on-TV: Ken Fox's Picks for the Week of Jan. 28 " Don't Know (Captain) Jack? Tune In to Torchwood " NBC's Las Vegas: You Can Bet on New Scoop! " TV's Must-see New Episodes of the Week