Wealthy, young, and beautiful Diane Henry has it all, including an oppressive mother-in-law and a milquetoast husband who wants a divorce. Dr. McKinley Thompson navigates Diane through a sea of troubles, watching for whitecaps.

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Diane Henry
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David Henry
Irene Tedrow ...
Mrs. Henry
Suzi Carnell ...
Reception Nurse
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Lawyer's Secretary
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Wealthy, young, and beautiful Diane Henry has it all, including an oppressive mother-in-law and a milquetoast husband who wants a divorce. Dr. McKinley Thompson navigates Diane through a sea of troubles, watching for whitecaps.

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30 September 1963 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Dr. William Raymer: Give your patient the benefit of the doubt. Let her splash around in the dark sea of emotion, kicking and fighting the currents in her own way, at her own pace.
Dr. McKinley Thompson: And meanwhile, what do I do?
Dr. William Raymer: What we all do. You watch for whitecaps.
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Crazy Credits

Bing Crosby Productions and the American Broadcasting Company wish to thank the American Medical Association and its Physicians Advisory Committee on Radio, Television and Motion Pictures for their assistance in the production of Breaking Point. See more »

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Better Living Through Psychiatry
20 December 2016 | by (Omaha, Nebraska) – See all my reviews

I only just learned of this BEN CASEY spin off about a freshly minted psychiatrist and his sagely mentor helping patients cope with the vicissitudes of life. It ran for a mere one season of 30 episodes in 1963-64. The series was created by Meta Rosenberg--a name familiar to all fans of THE ROCKFORD FILES (and who isn't?)--and is one ripe for rediscovery.

Paul Richards and Eduard Franz are the stars, playing psychiatrists McKinley Thompson and Edward Raymer. Richards carries the show this time around, with Franz appearing in only one brief scene (during which he bums a cigarette off McKinley! Raleigh was a show sponsor, after all). The guest cast boasts Janice Rule, Kevin McCarthy, and Irene Tedrow as a mother-in-law straight outta central casting if not hell itself. We meet her as she pries into her daughter-in-law's Diane's love life: "When's the last time you were really a wife to David?" she asks, euphemistically, scorning Diane for not bearing the wealthy family any progeny. When Diane reacts angrily, Mrs. Henry blurts out that her son wants a divorce! And in walks that son, a 30-plus-year-old mama's boy, protesting that he wanted to tell her. It's no wonder Diane fled from the house and onto the couch of Dr. Mac.

Backing up, the episode has a strange and surreal opening, showing Diane dreamily admiring a young man working out on gymnastic rings in the park. We hear Diane's voice-over narration describing how it all just happened as we watch the man walk with her to a shady place, lay her down on the grass, and kiss her passionately. Much more happened off camera as we later learn that Diane's "rabbit test" came back positive. Shrieking that she doesn't want the baby, she asks Dr. Mac to arrange a "legal abortion" for her.

That scene takes place inexplicably in a children's playroom in the clinic. In what my English major background trained me to see as an Ibsen allusion, Dr. Mac is placidly placing objects in a dollhouse while Diane throws both a fit and any object she can fling onto the floor. That's where I really admired the casting of Paul Richards, whose stone face rivals Keaton's. Even a few minutes later when Diane slinkily and seductively sidles up to him, his expression remains implacable.

The spotlight is, however, squarely on Janice Rule as Diane, who shows off her abundant talents as an actress. Over the course of the hour she plays the full spectrum of emotions and expressions. As she becomes increasingly unhinged she drinks and dances, screams and yells, runs out of doors and makes soul-rending soliloquys. Those soliloquys are well written and delivered, though one can really hear scripter Mann Rubin's typewriter clacking away as Diane describes herself as "cold, smooth, and impenetrable, like an iceberg glistening in the sun." I admit I enjoy that melodramatic dialogue, even as I acknowledge such lush and literary language would be unlikely to pour forth from a drunk woman teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown

I keep going back to Paul Richards, who really shines as Dr. Mac, Diane's psychiatrist-confessor. When milquetoast husband Dave stops by the clinic just to confirm his wife's pregnancy, Dr. Mac convinces him to give him five minutes, during which off-the-cuff consultation he calls out Dave for being beholden to his mother and for blaming Diane for the lack of children. Mac even persuades Dave to get a fertility check, which proves to be pivotal.

Things do resolve rapidly, though without a storybook ending. It's a messy situation, with a lot of hard work and adjustment ahead for Dave and Diane, not to mention for Mother, whose dethroning in Dave's heart and life presumably will come after the end credits roll. For a Kennedy-era program, the story didn't shy away from ugly realities, showing the adulterous promiscuity of a lonely housewife and its consequences, and touching on divorce, abortion, and male infertility. Doctors puffing Raleighs and a pregnant woman drinking like a fish do date the series and would certainly preclude the AMA from bestowing its imprimatur as it did in the end credits in 1963.

BREAKING POINT is an overlooked series worthy of rediscovery. It still holds up in presenting timeless human drama portrayed by golden age actors and actresses. For good or ill, BREAKING POINT also presaged our therapeutic age where psychology has been embraced by the culture and has been demystified, dumbed-down, and doled out to the masses by latter-day Dr. Macs like Dr. Phil, Dr. Ray, Dr. Laura et al.


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