Review: Damages – Series Premiere on FX

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in Damages - CR: Larry Riley / FXShow: Damages (FX)
Episode: “Pilot” – Series Premiere (Season 1)
Premiere Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Rating: 3½ out of 4 stars

Quick Synopsis: A sharp law school grad is picked by the top high-stakes litigator in the country to be her protégé.

Long Synopsis: Ellen, a sharp law school graduate, played by Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later), is fielding offers from the top firms. This includes the high profile “Hewes & Associates,” headed by Patty Hewes, played by Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, The Shield). Patty picks Ellen to be her new protégé and puts her to work on their biggest case. They have filed a class action suit against Arthur Frobisher, played by Ted Danson (Becker, Cheers), an allegedly corrupt businessman. He made a killing selling off his company’s stock, as it was headed for bankruptcy. Thus, leaving all his employees having invested, losing their jobs and retirement plans. The government couldn’t get Frobisher, but Patty thinks they can. Now a first year associate, Ellen starts to learn that her life will never be the same. How will she be able to balance family, a fiancé and her new all consuming career path.

Review: When I think of Glenn Close, I think, great actress, but I better hide my spotted rabbit. She has played many memorable roles in film over the years. But, recently has put in a few on TV, like as a Supreme Court nominee on The West Wing or her stint as Capt. Rawling on The Shield. Now, she takes center stage in Damages, a great legal thriller that will keep you guessing over the course of its first hour and hopefully the next 12 that will follow.

Damages is not your standard TV law show. It takes place in the world of high-stakes civil law, where class action lawsuits are settled for dollar amounts in the hundreds of millions. But, it is not just a law show either. It is a taut thriller surrounded by a murder mystery.

The first episode gives you plenty of twists and turns to keep you wondering what is going on. The story opens in the present and then flashes back to the time of Ellen’s hiring. As the story unfolds, you are following what is going on now and then being let in little by little, as to how things got to here.

As it is hard to create something completely new, what the best TV shows do is take things that you have seen before and then put a new spin on them. The creators of Damages, Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman, have done just that. They have taken many interesting and exciting elements we have seen before, but have combined them in such a way, and tweaked them just enough, to give the viewer a new and thrilling story they will want to follow.

Like for example, they take the cliché of having the up and comer law grad turn down an interview with the big firm because it conflicts with a family obligation, thus getting them noticed and subsequently hired and then later turns this on its ear. As with many details in this series, things are not always what they appear to be.

On the casting front, once you see Glenn Close inhabit the character of Patty Hewes, you won’t be able to think of a better actor to play the tough and charismatic head of the top high stakes litigation law firm in the country. Also, Ted Danson is very good, taking a dramatic turn, as the aging playboy type who thinks he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever he wants.

Writing a review of a show like Damages is difficult, as you don’t want to give anything away to potential viewers that could spoil it for them. But, you also want to convey enough information as to why they should or shouldn’t watch the show when it premieres this Tuesday night.

Well, the Damages premiere should be on your must watch list. And, if it can continue to build on its fantastic opening, it could be poised to join The Closer and others, as not just a great summer series, but also one of the best shows on TV. Although, after watching the premiere, you’ll probably agree with my first thought.

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Jason the TVaholic
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