@ January 7, 2009

For once, I am determined to get the word out about a show before it is canceled or the season is already half over. The second season of Damages, starring Glenn Close at the top of a top-notch cast, starts tonight on FX. 

Damages has two greats: great acting and great writing.  Do those things interest you? Hmm?

This is crazy that all this is happening while Lauren is gone.

Damages-tv-11.jpgOkay, so you want to know what the show is about.  Glenn Close plays Patty Hewes, a cutthroat attorney.  Rose Byrne is a new lawyer with her firm.  Ted Danson is Arthur Frobisher, and he is being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in a class action lawsuit represented by Hewes.  He doesn't want to lose his money or his company, but he refuses to sully his name by settling.  Things get a little... messy.

Season 1 framed the action of the previous 9 months with flashes of the "present", all colliding at a pivotol moment; the grisly murder of Rose Byrne's fiance.  The only word to describe the plot is "unwinding".  You start picking at the edges, and with each new episode you circle in on the truth of what happened and what is going to happen. Each new flash of the present changes the context of what we've seen, sometimes in incredibly unexpected ways.  It is the tightest writing of any show currently in production.  I could give you examples but I don't want to ruin anything if you missed season 1.  It is much too much fun to watch it all unravel for yourself.

Glenn Close and Rose Byrne are the headliners, but the standouts from season 1 were Ted Danson and Zeljko Ivanek.  Zelljjjko plays a man who is clearly from Eastern Europe that has a crazy southern accent for some reason, and is Ted Danson's lawyer.  He's the guy next to Glenn Close and her incredible sunglasses in the picture above.  Does he look like a man who should be talking like the KFC Colonel? No. He does not.  It is glorious. 

Ted Danson is great for a reason other than a ridiculous accent.  He is the bad guy, but he's not a bad guy, if that makes sense.  What I mean is he isn't a mustache-twirling villian, if you'll excuse the cliche.  He's created a character that is driven to do the wrong things, and maybe even for the wrong reasons, but you still completely understand him.  That is some fine work, if you ask me.

If you plan on keeping up, DO NOT MISS the season premiere tonight.  This show got terrible ratings last season, most likely because missing one episode was like trying to speak English missing 6 or 7 letters.  You could do it, but a whole lot of stuff was not going to make any sense.

I have no idea what is in store for season 2, but the cast, which was great in season 1, is swelling up with talent.  William Hurt, Timothy Olyphant, and Marcia Gay Harden are joining what was already the best ensemble cast this side of Pushing Daisies.   If you missed season 1, do not wait and catch up on DVD. Watch it now.


In addition to that phenomenal looking cast, they're also apparently adding Clarke Peters and John Doman from "The Wire".

Seeing that was almost enough to make me order the DVDs straight up, but one of the few TV critics I bother to read trashed the shit out of it (in between talking about how great other parts of it are)(

"With each episode, creators Todd and Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zieman want to make your jaw drop at least once or twice, to make you question everything that you've seen to that point, to make damn sure you're going to clear your calendar for next week's episode so that you can find out how the latest shocking twist makes sense. In that way, they're not too different from pot-boiler novelists like John Grisham and Dan Brown, whose books don't have to be deep, or even good, so long as they make you keep turning the page to find out what happens next.

And that approach has its place, absolutely. ("The Da Vinci Code" once helped get me through a very bad delay on the Newark tarmac.) But it's one that gets tiresome after a while. If everything's surprising, then eventually nothing is. Zieman and the Kessler brothers admittedly make up much of the story as they go along and try to make sense of the twists after the fact, but that defeats the point of trying to play along with the mystery at home. If the writers and actors don't know who's doing what and why, then you can interpret any scene any way and it won't matter.


That one moment reminded me that "Damages" is a show that doesn't play fair, doesn't really make sense and is built on an ever-shifting foundation. And while that can be fun when you're trapped on an airplane, or lounging under a beach umbrella, or in a movie theater for two hours, it gets tiring when applied to an episodic TV show, week after week, season after season."

Off base?

I think it is way off base. Two comments:

First, I find it incredibly tiresome for people to complain when writers "make it up as they go along." No. Shit. Scripts are not handed down to writers from heaven. It is just as much fun to play along whether the writers know where it is going and you don't, or nobody knows where it is going. All I care is that the destination is satisfying, and you absolutely cannot complain about the conclusion of the first season of Damages. If you had asked me, I would have thought that Damages was conceived as one long master narrative - the show always FEELS like it knows exactly where it was going.

And second, the complaint that it doesn't make sense is BS. (Mild spoiler ahead) The ever shifting foundation is because the writer's are really good at pulling the rug out from under you. One episode, they show you a flash of the present that makes it look like Rose Byrne killed her fiance (she's holding the murder weapon over his body!). Then, the next episode, you see a little more that reveals the previous shot didn't mean what you thought it meant (oh, she found it in the other room, picked it up, and carried it with her when she found him). That's a small example, sure, but that is the kind of game this show plays on a larger scale.

The show is a little pulpy and melodramatic, but that can be alot of fun when done as well as it is here. That one TV critic you bother to read sucks.

Sounds good then, I'll have something new to binge on after Dexter. I tend to take the tack that as long as the plot works I don't care whether they're making it up as they go along. Heroes and 24 do it, but then again the best mystery on TV (Twin Peaks) did it too.

PS, last night's premiere: awesome. Very much looking forward to this season. William Hurt is off the charts so far.

Ok, that's a good start but i'll have to check into that a touch more. Will let you know just what else i have found.

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Jury - A group of 12 people, who, having lied to the judge about their health, hearing, and business engagements, have failed to fool him. H. L. Mencken

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