I enjoyed the first series of DAMAGES and knew I had to watch the second. Yes, I enjoyed this one too but there was something missing this time around. For a start, I'm not totally convinced that Rose Byrne has the ability to play the pivotal role of corporate femme fatale Ellen Parsons. Much of what happens in this series revolves around her one way or another, but she doesn't actually DO much, apart from put on those glassy eyes once every now and then. One minute super-smart Patty has Ellen sussed, the next she's underestimated her. And at the end of the day, Ellen is no match for Patty, even if that's not how things work out here. Then there's The Case - the big one being Patty's attempts to bring down UNR (a kind of Union Carbide, but in Virginia), who she reckons are responsible for poisoning the local populace with a chemical called Aracite. So Patty's planning a class-action suit on behalf of all the many plaintiffs, but we see relatively little of them (in order to personalise the story, win more audience empathy) and instead we get the more simplified focus of Patty vs UNR's arrogant CEO Walter Kendrick (played by John Doman, well-known for his role as a senior cop in THE WIRE). There are occasional appearances by Arthur Frobisher (played by Ted Danson) as a carry-over from the first series but ultimately he's little more than cosmetic dressing and not central to any of the main stories.
The central theme within Hewes & Associates is that Ellen is collaborating with the FBI because she has a personal vendetta hanging over from series one - that Patty arranged to have her killed. This was strained as a concept stretching 13 episodes and although it had some twists and turns, there wasn't enough meat on its bones, partly because Rose Byrne, excellent actress though she is, seemed slightly out of her depth up against ruthless, stone-hearted Patty Hewes. Meanwhile Walter Kendrick in this role lacked the anti-hero likeability of Ted Danson from the first series, while key figure William Hurt (as Daniel Purcell) was consistently a nuisance, for being (imho) miscast.
But I liked it. And that's because Glenn Close carries it. She is quite perfectly cast and she has made Damages what it is and as good as it is. She is magnetic in every scene and has the star-quality to be so. She makes some of the peripheral characters - not least new partner Tom Shayes - appear weak and breakable, and I would have thought that such a ball-breaker as Patty Hewes wouldn't have chosen such partners in real life.
One of the surprise newcomers who made a good impression on me was Timothy Olyphant (as Wes Krulik), Ellen's new lover and I liked the uncertainty he portrayed as to which way he would ultimately swing - and we didn't find out until the very last minute.
The script is generally tight and economical, full of intelligent touches and with some interesting spin-off threads such as Patty's relationships with her husband and son. I don't think Series 2 has done any harm to the product's brand image and I will be one of millions eager to see where things carry on in the third series. I also appreciated the high-definition broadcast, which made for an enhanced viewing experience.