Lisa Kudrow couches humor in Showtime's 'Web Therapy'

Jul 18 2011 - 12:46pm

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Showtime
“Web Therapy” stars Lisa Kudrow as a therapist and Victor Garber as her husband.
Showtime
“Web Therapy” stars Lisa Kudrow as a therapist and Victor Garber as her husband.

There's a good bit of humor to be found in "Web Therapy," which stars Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," "The Comeback") as Dr. Fiona Wallice, a brittle, impatient therapist who's found "a new modality" for therapy. Forget about 50-minute sessions with patients in person, she prefers three-minute online chats ("It's like you have a gun to your head; that's why it works!" she says.).

"Web Therapy" (9 p.m. Tuesday, Showtime) began as an online series. Those original web segments are incorporated into this 10-episode, half-hour show (you can tell the web segments because the wall behind Wallice looks brown; new segments have better lighting and a gray wall).

The new segments -- more than 50 percent of this week's episode and even more of next week's episode -- offer more insight into the Wallice character. The first scene this week introduces her husband, Kip (Victor Garber, "Alias"), who clearly can't stand his wife. The episode also offers background on her career change from finance to online therapy via an online chat with a former co-worker (Jennifer Elise Cox, "The Brady Bunch Movie"). A later episode will feature Lily Tomlin as Wallice's judgmental mother.

"Web Therapy" bears some resemblance to the late Starz series "Head Case," which was also about a self-absorbed shrink, although Wallice seems more vain and far less qualified for her job than that show's Dr. Elizabeth Goode (Alexandra Wentworth).

"Web Therapy" maintains its low-budget format that depicts all of the characters staring into webcams, directly addressing the audience. It's a static look that makes these half-hour shows a bit tough to endure visually (don't try watching two episodes in a row).

This format lends itself better to web shorts, but it is fun to see Wallice's world expanded, especially for fans of comedy that doesn't telegraph a joke well in advance. Kudrow and her "Web Therapy" crew (co-creators Don Roos and Dan Bucatinsky, who also appears on the show as a patient named Jerome) don't believe in setting up a punch line and leaving space for laughs. Instead, "Web Therapy" allows its characters to talk through the jokes, rewarding viewers who pay close attention.

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