DVD Review: Damages: The Complete First Season

If you like Glenn Close above all other actresses, you’ll like Season 1 of Damages, newly released on DVD.

Damages can best be described as The Devil Wears Prada meets Basic Instinct, and not in a good way.

Most reviewers have called Damages a superb legal thriller with plenty of plot twists and an abundance of suspense. Not me. Next to Hitchcock, Damages is kid stuff.

The Damages logo is a pair of bloody hands clutching a briefcase. That’s meant to represent the show’s story line. As described on the DVDs box: “Set in New York’s world of high stakes litigation, Damages follows the lives of Patty Hewes (Close), the nation’s most revered and most reviled litigator, and her bright, ambitious protégée Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) as they become embroiled in a class action lawsuit targeting Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), one of the country’s wealthiest CEOs.” Sounds good, right? Sure, if you’ve lived in a cave all your life and you’ve never seen a TV show before.

I watched all 13 episodes (it seemed like twice that), and all I saw was scenery chewing, red herrings galore, and serious overacting by Ted Danson in his portrayal of an evil Trump-like character, except that Danson has better hair.

Glenn Close is a fine actress who can do a lot better than this, both onstage and in film, so I can’t understand how her performance in Damages can equal the over-emoting Gish sisters back in the days of silents. But it does.

Close has had five Oscar nominations, three Emmy wins, three Golden Globes, three Tonys and a SAG, among others, but you wouldn’t guess it from Damages. Squinty eyes mean she doesn’t trust you, a broad grin means she doesn’t trust you, a blank expression means she doesn’t trust you and, wonder of wonders, her creed is “Never trust anyone.” So the viewer knows throughout that, no matter what her expression is, it means distrust.

This juggernaut of overacting might normally be blamed on the director, but there are a lot more than one director, so it must be something else. The least overacting is done by Rose Byrne who does her share of tearful denunciations, tearful mistrust, tearful bewilderment, and tearful loyalty switching. You could say she switches loyalties like British women switch hats. Trouble is, viewers can pretty much predict everything she’s going to do. Same with all the characters.

You could say Damages has suspenseful moments, but they are calculated and trite. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Jack Bauer and 24, but all these dragged-out hours of Damages might’ve made an effective 4-hour movie. Even better, if you cut all the repeat plotlines and allow members of the audience to draw some conclusions for themselves, you’d have a tight 2-hour thriller.

I leave potential buyers with one question: Is Damages the title, or is it what you should sue for after paying $34.99 for the complete first season, and $55.95 for the same on Blu-ray).

Grade: C

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