Obsession, Thy Name is Damages

This tale starts about six months ago. It’s about a girl (me) who loved a boy (Timothy Olyphant). This girl made it her goal to see everything on that boy’s IMDB page and when she had gotten through all of the good, recent, major stuff she decided to start on the TV shows. Damages was first on the list because, hey, it was instant streaming on Netflix! So this girl decided to watch the first episode to familiarize herself with the characters, and then she – okay, is this format getting a little too cute? Let’s just switch to first person here – would read up about the rest of the season on Wikipedia, since TO doesn’t enter until the second season.

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So, one Sunday morning when Kelly was at work, I watched the first episode. And I thought, “Huh! That wasn’t half bad. I could watch another one.” So I watched the second episode. And I thought, “That one was pretty good. I could stand to watch another one.” So I watched the third episode. And I thought, “Wow. That was kind of crazy. One more won’t hurt.” So I watched the fourth episode. And I yelled outloud, alone in my living room, “HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THIS SHOW I MUST WATCH MORE.” And I did. I watched the ENTIRE first season (13 episodes, about 45 minutes each without commercials) that very same day.

In case you’re reading this (yay!) without having seen any of Damages, the briefest of overviews is that Glenn Close plays high profile prosecutor, Patty Hewes. She doesn’t like bullies and has “the strongest bull shit meter” around. She hires on a new associate, Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne) and they, along with Patty’s right hand man Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan [JIMMY COOPER!]), work to make Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) pay for allegedly urging 5,000 of his employees to buy stock in his company, and then selling the stock out from underneath. This in itself would make an interesting show but the more intriguing subplot starts in the first episode when we find Ellen running, bloody, through the streets of New York City with nothing on her but a business card reading, “I was warned”. The show flips back between this (present) and six months ago (Patty hiring Ellen) and each episode closes the gap just a bit until the final episode when all of the twists and turns of the last 6 months are revealed.

The first season of Damages transcends the very concept of what I thought was good TV. It is meticulously and perfectly written – even now, when I am re-watching it with Kelly, I am never bored or feel like the show has hit a lull. It’s so smart and so clever; it tricks you into thinking that you are brilliant and you have this all figured out, but what’s that, it turns out you had no idea what was happening – you were being played just as much as the characters on your screen.

The greatest bits of Damages are the last few seconds of each episode. Just when you think that episode is tied up in a neat little bow, here come the last few seconds to blow the next episode wide open.

This glowing review of Damages does have a higher purpose than just urging you to watch it (but oh, please, if you have the means, watch this show). It ties in to Emmy nominations. I will be the first to admit that I have never given a rip about the Emmys, other than idly hoping a favorite show wins or rooting for a beloved actor/actress (Amy Poehler!). But you can bet your bottom dollar that this year I will be planted in front of that TV, on the brink of nausea, hoping and wishing and dreaming that Glenn Close wins for Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series. I’ve truthfully never seen Homeland, for which I hear Claire Danes is highly favored, but I just cannot believe that anyone this year (or, if I’m going to get all fangirl dramatic on you – in the HISTORY OF TELEVISION) has ever deserved an Emmy more.

Certainly I’ve known that Glenn Close is an amazing actress; I’ve heard it a thousand times in my lifetime. But before Damages, I hadn’t seen her in very much and I was waaaaay too young when I saw Fatal Attraction. She has always faded into the background of my brain, seen as an actress for my mom’s generation. But Damages has forever changed that. She is… I struggle for the words. Can I just say she is SCARY good and leave it at that?

I suppose I have rambled on long enough about this topic but let me just end this post with a couple more quick thoughts:

  • The first season of Damages is my favorite season of television, ever.
  • The second season was also incredible (and helloooooooooo Timothy Olyphant).
  • The third season took me months to get through. It felt slower and much more focused on the case Patty was trying (a ponzi scheme) and less on the drama between the main characters, which I missed.
  • The fourth season aired on DirecTV’s Audience Network and featured 10 episodes instead of 13. It also focuses on war and terrorism, a subject matter I find very difficult to stomach, so it took me several episodes to warm up. But about 5 episodes in, I knew I was a fool for ever doubting the writers/actors.
  • The fifth season is also only on Audience and 10 episodes and, tragically, the final season. Only two episodes have aired so far and it is blatantly clear that the writers are pulling out all the stops and going balls to the wall for their final season. I was yelling and screaming, “OH! MY! GOD!” so much that my cat refused to even sit near me by the end of each episode.

And with that, I ask of anyone who has seen Damages or has at least read this verbal rhapsody, what say you?

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