The Complete First Season
- Buy the DVD
All photos © FX
Reviewed by Will Harris
he initial shock of seeing Glenn Close on the small screen wore off after her first few episodes of “The Shield,” but once that single-season run was over, no-one expected we’d see her back on television anytime soon. It’s a testament to the level of drama being produced by the FX Network, then, that she should have been tempted back so quickly by “Damages,” a series which takes what we’ve come to expect from an hour-long legal drama and turns it completely on its ear.
Throwing traditional linear structure out the window, “Damages” begins by presenting us with a half-naked, blood-covered woman who may very well have murdered her fiancée, then takes us back in time to begin to unravel the mystery of who she is and how she got there. The woman, we soon learn, is Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), a wet-behind-the-ears attorney who’s on a quest to earn a position within the firm of the infamous Patty Hewes (Close), despite assurances that Hewes is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. It looks for a moment as though Ellen won’t get the job, but when she turns down an interview in favor of serving as maid of honor in her sister’s wedding, Hewes turns up at the wedding – specifically, in the rest room at the reception – to find out about this woman who would take a pass on interviewing with her. Moments later, Ellen’s gotten the job…but is this a good thing?
If you’re a viewer, the answer is a resounding “yes.” For Ellen, however, the response is, “Not so much.” She quickly finds herself caught up in Hewes’s most high profile case: a class action suit by the former employees of billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), who’s pulled an Enron and committed insider trading by selling his corporate stock at the expense of his employees and their pension plans. Danson provides a multilayer performance as Frobisher, utilizing his formidable comedic talents in a decidedly darker manner than usual while gradually drifting into a side that’s far more evil than we usually see him play; the irony, however, is that Close’s character is ultimately just as evil, albeit in a different manner. Ellen’s descent into Hewes’s orbit proves dangerous to herself and her fiancée, David (Noah Bean)…but, then, we already know what happens to him. The fun – such as it is – is getting to that point in the story and trying to determine who, if anyone, can be trusted.
“Damages” is a show that never stops unfolding during the course of its thirteen episodes, offering one mystery on top of another, with most answers only leading to more questions. After the first hour, you’re thoroughly gripped and ready to watch more, but at the same time, you can’t help wondering if they can possibly maintain this level of drama for the course of the entire season, let alone into a second year. The answer is… you guessed it…another resounding “yes.”
Special Features: Two episodes receive the audio commentary treatment, and although offering discussion of a series’ first episode is standard operating procedure, it’s a pleasant surprise that the producers are later joined one of the stars – Zeljko Ivanek – to chat about an episode near the end of the season as well…especially since the episode in question contains arguably the most shocking moment of the entire season. Also included are making-of and behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, and very educational legal primers which aid in the understanding of class action lawsuits.