‘Shrinking’ Review: On the Couch With Harrison Ford

An Apple TV+ dramedy from Jason Segel and some “Ted Lasso” principals is at its best when America’s sexiest uncle is dispensing advice.

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By Mike Hale

There are rules about how much young actors are allowed to work. They ought to apply to old actors, too, because the load Harrison Ford is carrying on the new Apple TV+ series “Shrinking” should be against the law.

The 80-year-old Ford plays one of the three central characters in the half-hour therapy dramedy (theramedy?), which premieres with two episodes on Friday, and nearly every moment I enjoyed revolved around him. (Nine of 10 episodes were available for review.) He plays Paul, the senior member of a psychotherapeutic practice, an old-school boss with a sharp tongue and a well-hidden soft heart.

An actor of Ford’s seniority could be excused if he coasted through the part or tried for a crowd-pleasing twinkly grouchiness. But Ford is made of tougher stuff; except for a few aw-shucks grins, he never panders. Instead of riding on top of the role, he relaxes into it and makes Paul smart, funny and sexy — it’s no wonder that his junior partners Jimmy and Gabby, played by Jason Segel and Jessica Williams, idolize him. (He’s Jimmy’s father figure and Gabby’s hot uncle.)

Ford maintains his, and Paul’s, quiet authority whether singing along in the car to Sugar Ray or negotiating that most dangerous of scenes: the party at which the older authority figure accidentally gets high. When Paul, who’s in the early stages of Parkinson’s, sweet-talks his sexy neurologist into a road trip, he tells himself — with just a hint of surprise — “You’ve still got it, man.” The same goes for Ford.

It’s tempting to just keep talking about Harrison Ford, because aside from Paul, the news about “Shrinking” isn’t so good. Segel created the show with Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein from the “Ted Lasso” team, and it’s focused on his character, Jimmy, another in the long 21st-century line of grieving man-children. Jimmy’s wife has died, and he has been neglecting his teenage daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell), who’s essentially being raised by their next-door neighbor Liz (Christa Miller). The show begins with Liz’s being woken up yet again by the noise from Jimmy’s grief-fueled late-night carousing.

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