State of Mind

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9-10 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Lifetime


If Amy Bloom the psychotherapist is anything at all like Amy Bloom the creator of "State of Mind," her counseling sessions must be models of straight talk and conversation with no restraint. In her Lifetime series, the clinicians tend to give analysis and advice as if firing their words from a bazooka. As far as they're concerned, tough love isn't tough enough.

But maybe that's exactly what their patients -- and TV viewers -- need. The blunt approach to problem-solving, assuming it's well-reasoned, is refreshing and thought-provoking. In this series about therapists with hard cases and personal issues, not one gets coddled for long, and that also goes for the psychotherapists.

It's a bit risky considering the extent to which TV audiences are conditioned to watching healers of the hand-holding variety. Even Fox's Dr. House, abrupt to the point of rudeness, has a soft and caring entourage that fixes hurt feelings in his wake.

"Mind" mostly takes place in a converted Victorian mansion in New Haven, Conn. At the heart of the series is Ann Bellowes (Lili Taylor), a psychiatrist vaguely reminiscent of Showtime's "Huff." Like the psychiatrist played by Hank Azaria, Bellowes is haunted by imaginary and distracting images and, as important, confronts her own emotional problems with a somewhat detached attitude.

Arriving at her own couples counseling session, Bellowes catches her husband in the middle of sexual healing with their therapist. She has some harsh words for both of them, then walks out with her spouse's shoes, a tepid reaction by any standard.

"I think Phil's gone," she confides to psychologist Cordelia Banks (Theresa Randle), who is in the middle of her own secret affair with another tenant, handsome Taj Kalid (Mido Hamada), who is married and egotistical. Others who practice in the converted mansion are James LeCroix (Derek Riddell), a twice-divorced and hardworking child psychologist who is coaching the adoptive parents of an abused Russian boy, and Barry White (Devon Gummersall), a new and idealistic lawyer.

This is challenging fare, but the smart storytelling and realistic portrayal of professional relationships is unique and worth checking out. Although only the premiere was made available, it appears that Taylor is well on the way to crafting a uniquely complex figure capable of great insight and torment. Her subtle dramatic choices make her fascinating to watch.

The supporting cast of mostly unknowns is nonetheless impressive and quite capable of nicely modulated performances in separate but equally engrossing stories. "Mind" is a valuable addition to the Lifetime Sunday night lineup (placed between "Side Order of Life" and "Army Wives"), as solid a night of drama as you will find anywhere.

STATE OF MIND
Lifetime
The Shephard/Robin Co. in association with Warner Horizon Television
Credits:
Executive producers: Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin
Co-executive producer/creator/teleplay: Amy Bloom
Director: Michael M. Robin. Director of photography: Brian J. Reynolds
Production designer: Mark Hutman
Editors: Michael Patrick Smith, Craig Bench
Music: Mason Daring
Set decorator: Barbara Munch
Casting: Meg Liberman
Cast:
Dr. Ann Bellowes: Lili Taylor
Dr. James LeCroix: Derek Riddell
Dr. Cordelia Banks: Theresa Randle
Dr. Taj Kalid: Mido Hamada
Barry White: Devon Gummersall
Fred Smedressman: Kevin Chamberlin
Dr. Phil Bellowes: Chris Diamantopoulos
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