“ Genre: Television - Damages / Theatrical Release: 2007 / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Mario Van Peebles / Actors: Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Ted Danson, Zeljko Ivanek, Tate Donovan ... / DVD released 2008-04-14 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Colour, Dolby, PAL, Subtitled „
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absolutely BRILLIANT series. We could not stop watching it, as each episode ends you cannot wait to see the next one. In fact be prepared for some very late nights, as you just HAVE to watch the next one, and the next one . . . The storyline is very clever and enthralling. I loved all the actors and actresses in the show, Glenn Close is excellent as always, and it was nice to see Ted Danson in something meaty. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good gritty thriller. Worth buying the DVD box set, rather than having to wait week after week for the next episode. The story follows the lives of Patty Hewes (Close), a very revered and tough litigator, and her young ambitious protégée Ellen Parsons as they take on a class action lawsuit against Arthur Frobisher, one of the country's richest CEOs. The tag line for this show is 'win at all costs', and Ellen finds that out the hard way. It will have you on the edge of your seats.
Now it is not very often that I watch a TV series and find myself waiting in anticipation for the next enthralling episode but this is how I found myself feeling when I watched the pilot episode of the American television series Damages, I got excited when I knew the next episode was going to come on, so imagine my excitement when I received the series 1 box set as a gift from my other half for my birthday last year.
***WHAT DO YOU GET***
The box set comes complete with 3 discs which includes all 13 episodes of the spine tingling, edge of your seat legal drama and a number of special features including; cast and crew commentaries, 'willful acts': The making of damages, 'Trust no-one': Insight from the creators, 'Understanding class action': Interactive Guide and Deleted scenes not included in the original series.
Instead of diving straight in with a run down of the series itself, as this is a review of the DVD box set I've decided to begin my review with details of the special features that were included.
==Cast and Crew Commentaries==
There are two cast and crew audio commentaries included in the box set, the first of these accompanies the pilot episode of this series and features the creators of the show; 'Glenn Kessler', 'Todd Kessler', 'Daniel Zelman', Director 'Allen Coulter' and actress 'Glenn Close'. The second audio commentary accompanies episode 10 "I hate these people" and is a more intimate discussion with the creators and the director. I liked how the commentaries moved away from the standard discussions that normally focus on the pre-production work involved in the making of the series and the covering of the shoot but instead involve discussions that cover the storylines and the intricate attention to detail that was required to make each episode work. The content of these commentaries is of a very high standard; it is very thorough and gives great insight into the development of this very intriguing and very complex storyline.
==Willful Acts: The making of Damages==
Willful Acts is a 23 minute long featurette that places its focus on the actual cast and the characters they play. Where the commentaries provided a great insight into nearly every aspect of the production of the series, this gives the viewer great insight into the development of the characters and their motivations within the series from the perspective of the actors playing those characters, a great behind the scenes addition to the features.
==Trust no one: insight from the creators==
This feature is exactly what it says it is "insight from the creators". This is a nice addition to the features as it explores the methodology used by the director and creators in creating the perfect plot for each episode as there are numerous twists and turns throughout the series and this allows the viewer to see how this is all pulled together throughout the 13 episodes.
==Understanding class action: Interactive guide==
Another interesting feature but not something I found really appealing. The interactive guide is basically just a reference feature that includes some video commentaries from experts, a glossary of legal jargon, a number of case studies from real life class action suits and some essays on lawsuits. Interesting enough for all of the law buffs out there but not really my cup of tea. A simple search on google would have provided me with the sort of information that is included in this feature had I wanted to investigate further.
There are a total of 8 deleted scenes spread over the 3 discs, each scene amounting to approximately 1 minute each. Nothing really stood out for me in this feature, I find that sometimes when I watch deleted scenes from films I think to myself that perhaps the film would have flowed a bit better with that one scene that had been cut from the movie, but these scenes didn't really hold any great revelations or stand alone moments that I thought should definitely have been included, it's still interesting to see what other ideas were thrown into the mix though, I always enjoy watching the deleted bits.
***DAMAGES THE SERIES***
Damages is a legal drama with a difference. Where most legal drama's base their storylines in or around the courtroom, 'Damages' takes it outside and provides an intimate picture of the turbulent lives of individuals who will do just about anything to win.
Got you interested yet? I sure hope so!!
Set in the heart of New York, this series introduces us to Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), a high stakes litigator in the legal world famed for her ability to win those cases that no-one else will touch, perhaps you could describe this character as callous and uncompromising with an unfaltering commitment to do whatever it takes to win. Enter Ellen parsons (Rose Byrne), a young intelligent law graduate, newly engaged to her Dr Boyfriend, who is set to become Patty's newest addition to the firm and her protégé, who realises during a class action lawsuit against former CEO Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), a corrupt and unsavoury character, that her life will never be the same again as she witnesses just how far Hewes and associates are willing to go to ensure that they win, no matter what the cost.
I could go into the ins and outs of each individual episode but I'm not going to spoil it for everyone. What I will say is how intrigued I was by the style in which this was filmed. Effectively the pilot episode starts at the beginning of the end and after about 5 minutes we are transported back in time to scenes that took place 6 months earlier and this style stays true to the series throughout. I thought that this was a very Risky approach as sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with what's going on when a programme jumps between time frames, but as I watched I thought this was done very effectively and it only heightened the level of anticipation and excitement factor for me, constantly trying to piece the puzzle together, with the clues that were being unfolded throughout the 13 episodes.
The episode breakdown is as follows:
1. The pilot Episode
2. Jesus Mary and Joe Cocker
3. And My Paralysing Fear of Death
4. Tastes Like A Ho Ho
5. A Regular Earl Anthony
6. She Spat at Me
7. We Are Not Animals
8. Blame the Victim
9. Do you regret what we did
10. Sort of Like Family
11. I Hate these People
12. There's no 'we' Anymore
13. Because I know Patty
At first glance you might think that these episode titles are just complete nonsense but after watching each individual episode, the origins of these titles become clear and make complete sense.
PATTY HEWES - GLENN CLOSE
Patty Hewes is the leading lady in this legal drama and her character can be described only as Ruthless in this programme, feared and envied in her field of High stakes litigation, the character is simply a bitch (apologies if this offends anyone), and Glenn Close plays this part very well. Even though this character has a tough exterior I couldn't help but feel as I watched the series that there was a lot more to Patty Hewes than meets the eye and that in a sense there is a very real vulnerability in her character that is masked by her hardened outlook. One thing is for sure - this woman will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and the real question is, is she doing it for Justice or for her own power infused ego?
ELLEN PARSONS - ROSE BYRNE
Ellen Parsons comes from a working class background and has made a success of her education, graduating from law school with very promising career prospects. Her choice to join forces with Patty Hewes and Associates seems like the right one, but the relationship between the two is somewhat complicated. Ellen was naïve when she joined Patty's firm but soon realises that sometimes doing the right thing means you have to do the wrong thing, and there's a lot at stake. Rose Byrne plays a great character with a lot of depth. Although she is from Australia, Rose Byrne totally pulls off playing an American.
ARTHUR FROBISHER - TED DANSON
Arthur Frobisher is the subject of the class action law suit in this season, a man of great power. CEO of a large corporation and a self made millionaire, who is accused of selling stock to line his own pockets before his company goes down the tubes, leaving his many employees penniless and without pensions. Patty sets out to bankrupt this ruthless character, but it soon becomes clear that Arthur Frobisher isn't adverse to bending a few rules and playing dirty himself. I think Ted Danson plays the part very well, a family man with a competitive nature who will defend what he has built for himself at all costs.
These characters are in my opinion the three most noteworthy characters, all with leading roles in the series., although every character throughout this series has a significant part to play, Other characters and actors that appear in season 1 are as follows:
Tom Shayes - Tate Donovan - Patty's Senior Legal Associate
Ray Fiske - Zeljko Ivenek - Arthur Frobisher's Attorney
Katie Conner - Anastasia Griffith - Ellen's best friend and Fiancés sister
Hollis Nye - Philip Bosco - A highly regarded senior partner at a rival law firm.
David Connor - Noah Bean - Ellen's fiancé
Phil Grey - Michael Nouri - Patty's husband
Gregory Malina - Peter Facinelli - A waiter associated with Arthur Frobisher
Uncle Pete - Tom Aldredge - The handy man at Hewes and Associates
Michael Hewes - Zachary Booth - Patty's son.
***HERE'S THE TECHNICAL BIT***
Number of Discs - 3
Classification - 15
Studio - Sony Home pictures entertainment
Run time - 559 Minutes
Format - PAL, Colour, Subtitled, Dolby
Language - English
Region - 2
Subtitle Languages - Danish, English, Finish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish and English hard of hearing.
***WHERE TO BUY***
Available to buy for as little as £7.97 on Amazon.com which is a bargain if you ask me. Also available at HMV, Play, The Hut, and so on.
***MY FINAL THOUGHTS***
If you are looking for a drama that will keep you glued to your seat then this is definitely one to go for - superb storyline, superb cast and exceptional acting. The extra features in this box set are a great addition and provide great in depth insight into the creation and development of both the storyline and the characters.
I had fears for the fate of Damages when it came onto the BBC. When it comes to showing some of the finest US imports they frankly come up short unless it's called Heroes.
Sure enough what started as a Sunday night thing soon got shifted onto Monday nights and I lost track, a bad thing to do with episodic television as you miss one then you pretty much lose the plot. But thanks to DVD I was able to catch up on the entire run in one week.
After her barnstorming appearance in a season of The Shield, Glenn Close headlines this legal drama about a high powered lawyer taking on a case of corporate deception where many employees were left penniless while the firms boss sold out for millions of dollars. Close plays Patty Hewes in an award winning performance, a feared lawyer with a high reputation for doing whatever it takes to win. In this case she takes on a fresh-faced lawyer Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) who happens to have links to some people involved in the case. The first episode shows Ellen running from her apartment covered in blood, her boyfriend lying dead in the bathtub. As the season progresses we see ever flashbacks to what occurred to get to that event.
Damages is a very satisfying drama featuring a great cast and a good number of twists and turns. Ultimately the villain of the piece is corporate criminal Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) but along the way we see more than one guilty party and that includes the tactics of Patty Hewes who uses people, distorts the truth and second guesses peoples actions to gain her advantage.
I really enjoyed this take on the legal drama. True it's nothing fantastically new but when you have a solid well thought out plot and a great bunch of actors then that's all you need.
I look forward to the next season.
- DVD -
This boxset has a very polished widescreen transfer. The visual style is very contrasting with dulled out color palettes coupled with a warm look on other scenes. It looks great and is shows a high production value.
The 5.1 soundtrack gives a good soundstage for a TV show, of course there's not awesome rear action but what you get is a solid well presented soundscape.
- Extras -
A couple of audio commentaries accompany two episodes featuring the creators. I have to be honest, I only skimmed through these tracks but what was represented was a good insight into the ideas behind the show.
Each disc also features a number of deleted scenes that are short in length. Most of them offer nothing of real consequence and some are merely extensions of what's in the final cut. But then they're not called deleted scenes for nothing.
Two featurettes that run for approximately 40 minutes in total cover the making of the show and the ideas behind creating it. It's a good candid insight in how the idea came about and was developed. A nice touch on these features is that they warn you beforehand of potential spoilers.
There is also an interactive guide that covers some of the legal jargon with insight from people in the law profession. It's a good guide to understanding the legal proceedings in the show and also highlights examples of real life cases that are similar to the one presented in the show itself.
- Finally -
Damages is well worth taking a look at if you like legal dramas, it's got a good collection of extras and at under thirty quid it's not bad value although it'll probably be cheaper in the coming months.