Thursday, July 14, 2011

Film Yap: Damages Season Three

Most of legal thrillers are based around the courtroom. That’s perfectly understandable. The courtroom is a perfect dramatic arena where a protagonist is in a battle of wits against the antagonist. However, “Damages” is a show that knows the best conflict can happen before all of that.

The show is about Patty Hewes, one of the toughest lawyers in New York City. Patty is played by Glenn Close, one of the scariest people on the planet. Even though she is taking down criminals like Ted Danson’s Arthur Frobisher, her morality is skewered to do whatever possible including criminal activities.

The core relationship of the show has been about Patty and Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). They are both ambitious in the field, but the constantly test each other to see what line they wish push the other towards. Depending on what happens, they could be allies or hating each other.

The third season circles around the Tobin family. The head of household was just caught performing a major Ponzi scheme and then committed suicide. Hewes and Associates are forming the case against them and Patty is obsessed knowing there has to be more money hidden.

The remaining family is struggling with being shocked on the information and afraid about what is going to happen next. Everything thinks there is more money, but the question is who knows anything. The son Joe (One of my favorite character actors, Campbell Scott) lost all of his money from the scheme and has become desperate. The mother (Lily Tomlin) is angry and torn. The only one who is keeping focus and hiding the most is the lawyer, played brilliantly by Martin Short. Not only can he play the drama, he can be a bit scary.

One of the things that sets “Damages” apart so well is the demented way they flash to the future. Every episode gives you more information and the rest of the season is getting things worse and worse to lead to the scenes. This year it’s Patty involved in a bad car crash and Tom, one of the only characters in each season, dying.

I liked last season, but a lot of its critics were saying that the story became too complicated with so many double crosses. This year the mystery is less complex, but still very compelling. The plotting is still strong with having plenty of unpredictable twists. This season is more emotional from both ends of the puzzle. Tom was always a great character because he didn’t exact play the part of someone who is loyal to any side. It wasn’t until his death did I appreciate what he was able to do within a season.

Just like always, all of the actors are top notch. Close is incredibly watchable because she is giving one of her best performances as the brilliant lawyer who is increasingly unstable. Byrne, Scott, and Tomlin remain subtly powerful, but the real shining star is Martin Short. He’s playing nothing for humor, but just like the show did with Darrel Hammond last year, they turn the comedian into a great villain.

One of the surprisingly good parts of the season is the return of Arthur Frobisher which provided the most satisfying ending to that story—and it took its sweet time revealing why he returned. The only structural flaws is the look into Ellen’s past during the last few episodes. It lagged more than it needed to and the results weren’t that great. It made up because what Ellen does in the finale is one of the more memorable parts.

I don’t know where the story is going next, but I’m pumped for the next season. Just like “Friday Light Nights”, DirectTV saved this from cancelation to give them two more seasons. This is a fantastic show that could use a bigger audience, especially who like the season long complicated stories like from “LOST” or “Veronica Mars” or the dark paths of “Breaking Bad.”

The DVD set has plenty of good bonus features. They have a couple commentaries from the big actors and the writers. There are also episode introductions, some featurettes about production, and a blooper reel. I would have liked something teasing the next season but this is still a nice set.

Season: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 4 Yaps

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