Damages

damIt’s been two long years since last we saw Patty Hewes, the diabolical, terrifying lawyer played by a captivating Glenn Close in the cable drama Damages. When the series first aired in Australia on Channel Nine, it was clear this was a quality piece – alas, it struggled to find a following on a channel with a broad audience.

The non-linear narrative was a constant challenge. Flashbacks and flash forwards combined with characters doing 360 degree U-turns from white to black. It left many viewers perplexed, a risky move for any new work. Even in the US audiences struggled. Disrupted too by the writer’s strike, it is now back, looking to maintain its unique style without overcooking its structure. For those who have stuck with the brand, and for those who will now join it on pay television, the rewards are ample.

There is a classic Hollywood feel to Damages. The relationship between Patty Hewes and her protégé, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), is like a modern-day All About Eve. The elder fosters the younger and teaches her too well – seemingly to their ultimate detriment. Parsons has now learned it was Hewes who was instumental in the murder of her boyfriend, and she conspires with the FBI against her mentor, soliciting insider information.

Close has also been likened to a noir heroine – think Barbara Stanwyck or Joan Crawford – for her dazzling, sometimes monstrous, scenes as the lawyer with a ferocious appetite. Byrne brilliantly matches her this season in scenes brimming with subtext. It’s the best performance Byrne has given in her career.

Last season, Ted Danson was a revelation with his dramatic performance. This series William Hurt (in something of a Big Chill reunion) moves to the fore as a scientist looking to expose an energy company’s dumping of toxic waste. Also joining the series are Marcia Gay Harden and Timothy Olyphant. This cast chews up the scenery in what is essentially American ensemble theatre. The writing is mischievous, full of lies and more goddamn lies. Stylishly filmed in the legal corners of New York, it makes use of the city at night, in autumn and in the rain.

As a thriller Damages remains a sinister, delicious piece of television. At its heart it’s a character essay tied together with questions about power, trust and morality. And Glenn Close.

5_stars Damages returns 7.30pm on Thursday, July 16 on W.

11 Comments:

  1. Nine should repeat season 1 of Damages on their planned Go channel at a
    10.30 or 11 pm timeslot, then follow that with season 2 and then 3 (instead of onselling season 3 to Foxtel). The same applies to the Nip/Tuck show, whose screening on Nine has had a patchy record, although they screened season 4 on 9HD, then stopped.

  2. Well well well, only TV Tonight’s second 5 star review!

    I missed this series the first time around on Nine but I watched entire season on W this year. The series was so great I decided I would watch the marathon that W are showing this weekend as well. I cannot wait on Season 2.

  3. David, I fully agree with the five stars : This would rate as one of the best shows I have seen in a long long time.

    I introduced this series to a number of friends. Four of them recently spent a full day watching Season 2 in full, they loved it that much.

    Can’t wait for Season 3

  4. Is this the 2nd program ever to get 5 stars? If so, the 5 stars is very well deserved! This is such an extraordinary show =D. In my opinion, Rose Byrne is the best Aussie on American TV at the moment! Plus, Glenn Close is fantastic (should get multiple Emmy’s for her role as Patty) and it doesn’t matter what show he is in, Ted Danson makes any show worth watching. Oh and the lesser known star, Tate Donovan is brilliant. His acting presence was missed when he left The OC and, although his character had to leave (in the second season, he got one major storyline and that was paving him out to exit the show), he was one of the most stellar actors on there. Can’t wait for season 2, the W. promos are unbelievable!

  5. Patty did not commission the murder of David Conner, Ellen’s fiance. David was at the wrong place at the wrong time when Det. Messer demanded the videotape and eventually killed him. This was mainly Arthur Frobisher’s instructions to get the tape.

    When Ellen was attacked in Patty’s apartment is where she believes her boss tried to kill her. Ellen is now on the war path wanting revenge to take Patty down with the FBI investigation.

  6. I’ve already seen season 2 the way most readers of this site do. It is very good,
    but rates very poorly even in the US. It’s a pity it probably only has one more season left.

  7. Um ah…5 stars David, great to see….i havent watched the series 1 finale yet which was on W last night, have IQ’d it..will read your review in full when ive watched that later today incase there is any spoilers within. This show is fantastic, I havent been so involved with a TV drama since the brilliant first series of ‘Murder One’ back in 1996 (I think it was)..If the second series is half as good as the first the Glenn Close and Rose Byrne should definitely be in Emmy contention.

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