16 September, 2007

Buzz: "Damages"

"The story revolves around a ruthless lawyer (Glenn Close) attempting to win a class-action lawsuit against the former CEO of a corporation (Ted Danson) on behalf of his former workers, by any means necessary." Wikipedia

The BBC spokesperson excitedly called this FX thriller a cross between Murder One and The Firm when they announced they had bought it. No, not at all. Don't be silly.

I've been trying to think why I'm not as impressed by Damages as some people. Partly it might be because I just don't care about the characters enough. I can see the showrunner trying. The Glenn Close character is ruthless and there's an episode, which was designed to make us care about her, which showed her family problems. It didn't work.

It's even difficult to care about the fresh new lawyer, who has a few troubles, as she's one-dimensional like the rest of them.

It has a nice structure in that it starts in the present with a woman covered in blood leaving her apartment and then it goes back to six months earlier where we find out that that woman is a lawyer looking for a job. Those two timelines will eventually meet.

As well as characters we don't care about, the general treatment is rather dull and uninspired, hacky and clichéd. They have a story of the week, or red herring of the week, as they attempt to fill in 13 hours of programming with, at best, three hours of interesting story.

I appreciate that some parts of the audience just want intrigue and plot twists and don't particularly care if they make sense or if it's well written. But the important question is "are there enough of this undemanding audience?" The show halved its ratings in the US within two weeks.

By starting in the summer, Damages has managed to avoid being tarred by the same brush as Kidnapped, Vanished and Runaway, the big network twisty thrillers that were cancelled early, when it is no better than any of them. Glenn Close's presence lends an air of class to the dross - but a gold plated turd is still a turd.

With half the season gone, I couldn't care less what happens next, which is a bad sign in a thriller.


David Bishop said...

Gosh, I couldn't disagree with you more. I'm loving the back and forth structure, seeing the characters unpeeled layer by layer. I've got no problems with Patty being so unlikeable, or watching newbie lawyer's journey into the dark side.

Guess it just pushes the right buttons for me. Plus, I love the moments when Ted Danson's accent started turning into Christopher Walker. Most odd.

Robin Kelly said...

I do like the structure, it's the execution I haven't warmed to. For instance the present day sequences are there just to keep us intrigued about what happened in the past, which is fine, but they could have been a bit more subtle about it.

I don't mind unlikeable characters just as long as we understand where they're coming from. Tony Soprano is a classic example. He's a complete tosser but because of his family background we understand him and even empathise.