SEASON 3 RUNS FROM: January 25th – present
RUNNING TIME: 60 minutes
WHEN YOU CAN CATCH IT:
Mondays at 10 pm EST
The world’s best lawyer tries to fuck over more people. Rose Byrne tries to stay alive.
Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan, Keith Carradine, Martin Short, Lily Tomlin and Len Cariou
The U.S. government has just assigned Patty Hewes to recover millions of dollars stolen in a rather epic scale Ponzi scheme. Louis Tobin and his family have all but been indicted, so now they have to play hardball against Patty. Martin Short makes a daring dramatic turn as Tobin lawyer Leonard Winstone.
FX sent over the first couple of episodes for the third season. Needless to say, some time has passed since those episodes aired. Now, I’m following along much like most of the Chewers. That’s the bitch of covering a show that’s still airing. You always feel like you’re playing catch-up or trying to handicap it. There’s no real shot at observing the overall intention of the grander work. People don’t do book reports on a handful of chapters. Well, maybe if they’re just using SparkNotes.
Damages had one of the best first seasons in recent memory. Television drama is being raised to new heights since the start of the 00s, but what Glenn Close is doing is amazing. Sure, I don’t know want to take attention away from Tate Donovan’s impressive work this season. But, Close took a trip to Sunset Boulevard first. Take from that what you will.
Patty Hewes is one of the greatest characters on television. Glenn Close did amazing work during The Shield, but there’s something about Damages that plays towards her strength. When Close is working against Byrne, Hurt or Danson; you see the wheels turning in her head. There’s no visible notion of what she’s planning to do. But, it’s like watching a panther eating rodents. So much power, yet nothing that rests higher on her legal food chain.
The new elements for the third season run the gamut. Lily Tomlin, Len Cariou and Martin Short are the highlights of this season’s overall Ponzi Scheme storyarc. Martin Short stands out as the Tobin Family’s lawyer. It’s weird to see the guy from Clifford breaking balls and taking names. Still, he doesn’t command the power and respect of a Hewes or even Rose Byrne.
It took me some time to first get into the show this season. I didn’t like how the homeless guy, the Ponzi scheme and Keith Carradine were being thrown at the audience. Breaking off from the opening with Patty and the semi-flashbacks, you’re left bewildered. I’m jumping over a huge spoiler that I’m not going to directly reveal. A lot of people follow the series on DVD and they deserve to be just as surprised as live viewers.
Series creators Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler and Todd A. Kessler experiment a lot with narrative, as much as they play off old constructs. What I don’t get is the weird flash-forwards and then six month folds into the past. It worked in the first two seasons, but it felt rush here. Too much high intensity was packed into this year’s opening without really earning it. Where’s the build to a Fiske-like death? I hate to call it instant gratification, because it doesn’t feel like the audience earned anything. It was just dropped in our laps.
When you take a look at Damages in the longview, Season 3 is already a considerable improvement over last year’s William Hurt festival. Sure, the opening episode is colored by the actions of its spoiler event. But, we’re also thrust headlong into the Tobin world. As the further episodes air, we get more time to watch Louis and his brood get under Patty’s skin. What got to me about all of this is how much of a backseat Rose Byrne’s character is taking to the main action. It’s not like she got bumped down to a cameo or anything. I just kind of got used to her being crammed into every scene regardless of whether she needed to be there.
FX knows that they have a tentpole drama. Allowing Zelman and the Kesslers the freedom to dissect the legal drama has birthed something new onto the channel. While not quite reaching the heights of their HBO counterparts, Damages and his FX ilk are doing something refreshing. We’re getting adult drama that doesn’t talk to the audience with its Bruckheimer procedural approach. You fear and respect Patty Hewes as much as her legal opponents. The willingness to not give the audience a sense of safety is what endears me to this program and why I recommend it to all.
While I wasn’t that big on the second season, Damages returns to form in its third season. Pulling upon career best performances from Tomlin, Short and Donovan; we get to see actors making the best out of intense writing. The only person I can’t figure out yet is Julian Decker. I appreciate Keith Carradine’s recent rebirth on cable television. But, I can’t quite get the point of having him around. Check it out every Monday night on FX.