Wednesday, July 25, 2007

T.V. on TV: Damages

Damages is a fairly typical FX show. It’s got the look of quality television down, and it has the ambiguous characters most other quality shows have. It’s got a strong central performance from Glenn Close, and the plotting is so comprehensive and tight that it leaves you little room to breathe. But, at the same time, it feels a little shallow, as though there’s nothing more going on in its head than being riotously entertaining and keeping the plot moving along. It’s been compared to movie thrillers simply because of its labyrinthine plot, but if this were a movie, we would sigh at its convolutions and just long for something more straightforward, about real human beings. In short, Damages feels like a show that you should like more than you actually do.

Don’t blame any of this on Close. As star litigator Patty Hewes (the woman goes on the Greta Van Susteren show), Close turns in a great performance. Her tightly pursed smile is terrifying, and the way she makes everyone around her dance to every little tune she conjures up is mesmerizing. FX has made a lot of noise about coming up with a female protagonist who is the unethical match of Michael Chiklis’ Vic Mackey on The Shield or Denis Leary’s Tommy Gavin on Rescue Me (most of this noise was centered around the debut of the Courtney Cox vehicle Dirt). The network may have finally found that character in Patty. Close holds Patty’s motivations so close to her chest that you watch just looking for a chink in the armor, a way to figure out exactly what she’s up to and what her end game is.
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1 comment:

Edward Copeland said...

I think you nailed this one. While I watch it a few more times, I saw the twist at the end coming a mile away. I'm curious though to see if they go the unconventional route and actually make Ted Danson's character actually innocent of what he's accused of. One other note of criticism: Whoever told Zeljko Ivanek it was OK to trot out the accent made a terrible decision. He's a good actor and that awful, fake twang undermines every scene he's in.