Damages – Great beginning, then slowly deteriorated…


I was completely blown away by the first season of this show. Patty Hewes, as superlatively played by Glenn Close, was large and in charge. She had won an award, hired a new associate, and eventually, won a multibillion dollar case against Arthur Frobisher (played by a manic and effective Ted Danson). Mr. Frobisher sold off all his own stock just before his company went belly-up, you see…The acting and writing of that first season was exemplary.  Season two concluded with Patty losing her husband and her teenaged son. Season three finds Patty alone, and at times, seemingly struggling to maintain her sanity.

I have several problems with season three. Firstly, there were too many people were killed in rapid succession. An interesting character would get introduced, then killed off right away.  Secondly, there are just too many subplots.  (Martin Short’s Leonard Winstone/Lester Wiggins character being blackmailed by his father, Ellen’s possible adoption during early childhood and making Carol Tobin the killer of Danielle Marchetti, just to name a few). The strongest of them have been: Tom Shayes story as another of Louis Tobin’s fraud victims, which is interesting and credible, as is the impending parenthood of Patty’s son Michael and his much older girlfriend, Jill. Nonetheless, there have been too many double-crosses, lies, and manipulations for viewers to keep track. Even in a world of cops, robbers, and lawyers, you need to be able to follow the story – if every single character is double-dealing – it makes it hard for the viewer to follow what’s going on, and it seems less and less credible as a narrative.

Another thing I felt was inappropriate was Ellen jumping into the sack with Josh Reston far too quickly. From “I’ll think about it” after he asked for leads for his column at the Manhattan Observer newspaper to them sleeping together in their next scene. I thought Ellen was supposed to be more guarded and reflective after her stint with Patty Hewes?

I also have trouble with some basic details in the script. Patti initially offered Jill $100,000 to “walk away” from Michael, then $200,000. Jill balked at the notion and walked out. In a later episode; however, Jill agreed to $500,000 to disappear.  My criticism? In 2010, in New York City, half a million dollars might be a nice chunk of change, but it’s chump change in terms of setting someone up for life, especially an expectant mother. For that, if you’re not talking at least  the mid-seven figures, then you’re not seriously talking, and someone as worldly-wise as Patty Hewes is very well aware of that…

More screen time for Lily Tomlin and Len Cariou and less for Campbell Scott would have pleased me, too. One of my co-workers thinks it’s because some of these actors are movie stars and I’m used to seeing them in larger parts with more to do that I’m noticing the relative deprivation, which may be part of it, but I honestly don’t find the Joe Tobin character, played by Mr. Scott, to be very interesting.

What is interesting, is to see that the bossier Patty gets, the more people seem to defy her and do just the opposite of what she wants. I was half-expecting Jill to play off the windfall as Patty’s pre-wedding gift to the new couple. This would have been rich over a dinner with Ms. Hewes, I can just imagine her turning about six different shades of red;)  Patty has succeeded in one way; however, she has Jill and Michael lying to each other…

I have to give Jill credit for having moxy to openly deceive Patty, too.

Neither Patty nor Marilyn Tobin will be winning the Grandmother of the Year Award. The former wants to send the grandchild away forever, the latter stood passively by while she was killed.

The finale? We’re supposed to believe that Tom Shayes staggered back to his home bloody in broad daylight through the streets of New York the entire time while  instead of seeking medical attention? And his killer, Joe Tobin, (ugh!) just happens to arrive the very same moment? Why couldn’t Stuart Zedeck’s henchman, Mr. Falco have killed Tom off? That would have been far more credible. But to have Leonard Winstone shoot him, and then have Mr. Falco jump up and seemingly choke Winstone to death a few seconds later seemed absurd. And the way that manila envelope with the proof against the Tobins got passed around like a baton? Come on!!!

And don’t forget the homeless guy who only sleeps in the abandoned loft building -instead of a cardboard box when it’s time for someone staying there to be conveniently frightened for the camera…

This season felt very contrived and derivative of other films/television shows and I was very disappointed with the finale.

All things Damages

Q & A in re the season 3 finale

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