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Why We Love…..DAMAGES

March 14, 2011

Emmy winner Glenn Close as Patricia "Patty" Hewes, and Rose Byrne as her reflection, Ellen Parsons

[There’s a lot of shabby entertainment out there we’re constantly filtering through, so “Why We Love…..” is a new profile series to remind us of the good things out there we’ve ignored, forgotten, or taken for granted.]

Have you not watched Damages yet? I know, I know, it’s in your queue. It languished there over a year for me too, but after Snarky named it a top underrated show on television and Ev encouraged new year’s resolutions that support good TV, I finally got my Netflix Instant on and watched season one – all in a row. A day after finishing it, I began watching season two – all in a row. Sure, TV marathons are not new, but there is something extra addicting to Damages that Redlami also gets:

I adore Damages! I like the “every season is a miniseries” format, which is perfect for weekend marathons. Glenn Close hasn’t exuded this much delicious villainy since Cruella DeVille. She keeps the drama bar high for all the other actors, just as Ted Danson keeps the comic relief limbo pole low.

I hesitate to say things like “the role [actor] was born to play”, but this really seems to be the case here with Close, except I could go further and say it’s the role her entire career has been destined to arrive, every part leading up to this was a rehearsal. Unscrambled points out the same could be said of Ted Danson, and it’s true, I can’t imagine any other actor playing the role of Arthur Frobisher any more than I can imagine someone besides Close playing Patty Hewes. There are acting powerhouses all around, as Snarky’s Machine points out:

Damages takes familiar actors and completely casts them in unfamiliar ways. I see you, Martin Short and Marcia Gay Harden. Who hasn’t waited to see Big Chill costars Bill Hurt and Glenn Close reunite on screen?

Even character actors such as Zeljko Ivanek and Michael Nouri get some time in the sun on the show. Plus Timothy Olyphant and Lily Tomlin! Lost in all this name-dropping is the co-lead of the series Rose Byrne, who has snuck up on me as a favorite actor; she manages to hold her own in the big scenes as Ellen Parsons, the new associate who is played off of Close’s Hewes. But don’t fear this is some dusty theatrical show filled with dramatic monologues, the suspense and storytelling of the show are the engine providing momentum. The first episode of each season starts with a bloody crime, then flashes back to the beginning, revealing small detail after small detail, moving both forward and backward in time, and in the process uncovering backbiting, calculating conspiracies and murderous schemes. As Snarky also says:

Damages provides a stellar example of how to elevate a shifting timeline from a gimmick to sophisticated narration.

Each season is around a dozen episodes and while the first season is still my favorite, each successive season has its gifts as well. Treat yourself this week and make watching Damages a priority, we think you’ll love it too.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. evmaroon permalink
    March 14, 2011 11:45 am

    LOVE IT! I adore Damages for its risk-taking with narrative, too! Hitchcock said that carefully placed revelations enhance suspense; they’ve taken this idea and run with it. It’s one thing to know more than the characters do, but then the last few episodes tumble out and WHAM! we see that Patty was 10 steps ahead of us all along. It’s like she can see the future…

  2. hsofia permalink
    March 14, 2011 12:53 pm

    The first episode of Damages was a “free” episode on iTunes at one point. I got suckered into watching it because of the five stars it was getting, even though I’d never heard of it. Well, after one “free” episode, I did something I rarely do – bought the whole rest of the series on iTunes! It was like $30! But so worth it.

  3. Emma permalink
    March 14, 2011 5:59 pm

    DAMAGES is literally the only show I bother to watch. Glenn Close is phenomenal and she and Rose Byrne have amazing chemistry. I can’t wait until the new seasons starts up again in July!

  4. March 14, 2011 6:13 pm

    I still get chills when I think about the final shot of the last scene of the pilot. SO MUCH HAPPENS in one hour!

  5. March 15, 2011 2:59 pm

    This was a fantastic entry! I think season 3 has emerged as my favorite. I don’t know how or why, but largely courtesy of Lily and Martin. Their roles were complex and riddled with pathos. Moreover, they had to do battle with the overacting, upstagey actor Campbell Scott (who I ADORE). Their scaled down, measured performances helped Scott turn in one of his most compelling performances in YEARS. It’s clear, to me anyway, the producers were looking for something more in the Kyle M category (but he wasn’t available) and Scott lacks the ability to let the plot/character arcs wash over him the way Kyle does, but the chemistry with his co-stars more than made up for it.

    But the biggest surprises come from Tate Donovan, who is blisteringly brilliant as the put upon Tom. It’s a thankless role and the strapping Donovan is an odd, yet perfect casting choice. Tom seems a role more suitable for someone like Kyle Secor whose baby face and decade spent playing a character similar to Tom on Homicide: Life on the Street would have made him a good choice too.

    And, of course, Tom Noonan as Detective Victor Huntley. I could totally see a more conventional casting choice being David Morse, which would have been safe, but ultimately unsatisfying. Noonan’s amazing and his scenes with Close are acting master classes.

  6. hsofia permalink
    March 15, 2011 7:28 pm

    Correction to my comment above “bought the whole rest of the series…” = “bought the whole rest of the season….”

    And now I’m going to (attempt to) watch Episode 1 of Season 3.

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