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Just about cuts it
on 13 September 2009
Damages' brilliant first season was an out-of-the-blue treat for me. I've never enjoyed a legal drama before and had no real interest in a show that starred Glenn 'Cruella De Vil' Close, but after a few insistences I took the plunge and spent two fab nights enjoying it's tightly plotted, superbly acted joys. To say it's second season is a disappointment is something of an understatement.
This is mainly due to the creators' decision to fall back on that plot staple which so dominates modern major American drama- the government conspiracy. Yawn. Prison Break, Lost, 24, Heroes, all once-great programs that fell to the temptation of having their characters face and surmount immeasurable odds. This is a step down from the first season's plot (wherein an astoundingly good Ted Danson screws over his entire company to make a quick buck). The Wire's John Doman serves as our main villain but he's still part of a faceless company, and considering the wealth of co-conspirators, heavies and good-guys-gone-bad-gone-good-gone-who-knows, the whole thing seems a tad impersonal.
While things pick up mid-season for a vast improvement, the show is still marred by cheap shock plot twists (daddy issues all across the board) and a disposable-character attitude I felt somewhat offended by. Thanks the Gods for the cast then, who make sure this is still an ensemble worth tuning in for. Rose Byrne is as excellent as ever, as is a top-billing Close (treading a insanely crooked line between ice-queen villain and champion of the weak). Of the new additions, it is not an all-over-the-place William Hurt that shines but Deadwood's Timothy Olyphant, at times apparently channelling a young Eastwood as Ellen's love interest Wes. Danson's back too, as mesmerising as he was the previous year as amoral charmer Arthur Frobisher. As before, it is he who comes across as the hero, not Close's Patty Hewes.
Still a show I'll follow, I just hope the writers have the fortitude to go smaller next year. Apparently the cast have another four seasons on their contracts so at least there's time to improve.