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Machiavellian characters dominate this complex legal drama featuring terrific performances,
This review is from: Damages: Season 1 (DVD)
There aren't any eccentric characters that make you laugh like Denny Crane on "Boston Legal" nor are there any cases neatly tied up at the conclusion of each episode with a bow on them. "Damages" follows a single case and the follow out from that case from its beginning until its bitter end. "Damages" begins with Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne from "28 Weeks Later" and "Sunshine") bloodied and battered walking the streets of New York until she is discovered by the police. From there the series takes a trip back in time six months earlier a case that Ellen worked on as a new attorney at Patricia Hewes (Glenn Close) & Associates. It's a civil case where Hewes is suing multi-billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) for hollowing out his company and robbing 5000 employees of his company of their pension plans in the process. Having escaped the prosecution of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Frosbisher now must defend himself from claims that he benefited by selling his stocks before his company collapsing and getting away scot-free. Frobisher of course insists that he is innocent and was as much a victim losing the company he cared for as the employees. We see the entire case unfold before our eyes, the double dealings, double crosses and underhanded attempts by both the Hewes and Frobisher's attorney to gain the upper hand in this litigation.
"Damages" is compelling, fascinating and well written featuring a wide variety of characters with their own agendas. No one truly is an angel here although the naïve Ellen comes mighty close as she finds herself dragged into Hewes' world and manipulated as much by her boss as she is by the opposition in the case. A personal connection between Ellen and the case is uncovered which also makes Ellen suspect that the only reason she got the job was so that she could be used to gain the upper hand in the case. In the process Ellen sees her ambitions and dreams pull further and further away from her reach just as she thinks she is climbing the corporate ladder of success. Hewes tells Ellen at one point, "trust no one" and the same could be applied to everyone involved in the case.
Academy Award nominee/Emmy winner Close, Emmy Award winner Danson, Bryne, Tate Donovan, Peter Riegert, Michael Nouri and a host of film/TV/Broadway veterans bring these characters to life with a vibrancy rare in series television. If the story sounds like it was ripped from the headlines, the Enron, Worldcom and other scandals where corporate CEO's betrayed the public trust and manipulated the market inspired the series but it's the compelling characters and drama that will make you stick around to the conclusion of this 13 episode FX series.
The opening had me scratching my head in puzzlement--it looked like crappy low-rez video. It's a façade like everything else here as it is simply a sequence showing us the raw reality that Ellen finds himself trapped in. As the show jumps back six months in time to the beginning of the case, we get a beautifully rendered video image. There are a couple of problems with video noise that occur.
Audio sounds marvelous with a 5.1 mix that uses the format quite well. The 5.1 format is nicely used given that this is primarily a dialogue driven show with nice ambient effects captured in the surround channels.
I was surprised that we only get two audio commentaries on this set as I had hoped for more but both are effective and insightful. Glenn Close, writers/producers Todd Kessler & Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman and director Allen Coulter appear on the pilot episode discussing issues they ran into shooting on location in New York during a nasty winter, issues they ran into with trying to bring the series in on budget but short shrift the quality of the show. I would have loved to hear close and her co-stars on a separate audio commentary track discuss the craft of acting, their approach to the material and some of their thoughts during their performances but what we do get is quite good.
The second audio commentary features actor Zeljko Ivanek front and center dominating the discussion with the Kesslers and Zelman joining in with technical tidbits from time-to-time. Ivanek has long been one of my favorite character actors and he has largely been underused in many TV shows and movies so its nice to see him get a character as juicy as defense attorney Ray Fiske to sink his teeth into southern drawl and all.
"Willful Acts" is a half hour behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the series. "Trust No One" clocks in under fifteen minutes and focuses more on the characters in the series. We also get a variety of deleted scenes. The really cool feature of this set is that the disc is enabled so that the player can remember which episodes you've watched and jump right back to the one you had next in rotation if you choose the "play all" feature.
"Damages" is a terrific, compelling legal drama. All 13 episodes of the series plus the extras are on three Blu-ray discs and you also get an insert that gives you the title of each episode, a brief synopsis and credits for each one as well.
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Initial post: Apr 8, 2014 6:14:24 PM PDT
Wynne C. Dimock says:
Thanks much as only have access to library copies of third and fourth seasons. Great synopsis.
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