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Damages Year 1 (Blu-Ray)

Sunday, 20 April 2008 20:16

'When I am through with you, there won’t be anything left'*

A Review of “Damages” Season 1 on Blu-Ray Disc

In her first ever lead TV role, five-time Oscar-nominee and Golden Globe winner GLENN CLOSE leads a stellar cast in the riveting top-rating series Damages, available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

A compelling mix of legal thriller and gripping murder mystery, Damages comes from the creator of The Sopranos and is directed by ALLEN COULTER. Debuting on BBC1 with a 3.2m audience, Damages has increased its ratings over subsequent weeks.

Damages Season 1 on Blu-Ray and DVDMs Close, the recipient of this year's Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Drama is at her vicious best and, in an unprecedented decision by an American TV channel, the show has already been confirmed for second and third series in America.

Damages is the story of the brilliant yet ruthless New York lawyer Patty Hewes (played by Ms Close), and her attempts to sue billionaire businessman Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson) in a class action lawsuit on behalf of his former employees. Frobisher is accused of insider trading, selling his stock in his own company just before major accounting irregularities are uncovered by the Government - leaving five thousand of his employees with worthless stock and have hence lost their entire life savings. Despite having been found not guilty in a criminal trial, it is clear that Patty will stop at nothing to prove that Frobisher is guilty and get a substantial settlement for her clients.

The 13 episodes of Season One cover the course of half a year, and the prosecution of the case against Frobisher. The series actually begins towards the end of the overall story arc with Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne), staggering out of an apartment building into a New York morning, covered in blood and seemingly wearing little more than an overcoat. After she is arrested by police we flash back to six months’ beforehand and see Ellen – a very bright recent law school graduate – turn down a job at a prestigious New York law firm in preference for working for Patty Hewes. But what does Patty want her for, and just how much will Ellen sacrifice for her career and her new boss?

Whilst essentially linear, each episode covers the continuing story of the case against Frobisher, we also see more of the future through brief flash-forwards showing the hours and days following Ellen’s arrest.

Throughout the story we also see more of the lives of Patty – who is struggling to cope with a delinquent teenaged son, Ellen – planning her future life with her Doctor fiancé David Connor (played by Noah Bean), and Frobisher – trying to relate to his kids whilst his marriage disintegrates, with all of their stories woven through and around the power-play going on in the case.

From the pilot episode on, Damages sets a relentless pace which doesn’t let up until the end of the final episode. Nothing seems contrived, and none of the plot lines exist merely as filler - they all combine to create a story that fills the entire run of episodes to bursting.

Every aspect of the series is excellent, from the first-class writing, through to the excellent acting. There are many standout characters from the eminently watchable Patty Hughes and her relationship with her protégé Ellen, the likeable-yet-loathsome Arthur Frobisher, Frobisher’s attorney Ray Fiske (expertly played by Želko Ivanek) and many more. Even the minor characters such as Hollis Nye (Philip Bosco) - who warns Ellen about going to work for Patty - are expertly written and wonderfully played.

The series reminded me most of the first season of Stephen Bochco’s Murder One from the mid-1990s, in that it covers a single case from beginning to bitter end showing how considerations of justice are often secondary to the application of law in the convoluted American legal system. Murder One was one of the first TV series to show a single story across an entire season, and Damages follows in that tradition. There are really no side stories or sub-plots here. Everything revolves around the central case.

In this package (also available on DVD), you get three Blu-Ray discs containing all thirteen episodes of the first season, two of which have commentaries, a smattering of deleted scenes, two featurettes (“Willful Acts: The Making of Damages” and “Trust No One: Insight from the Creators”) and an interactive guide entitled “Understanding Class Action”.

The extras are fairly underwhelming, although the commentaries give an interesting insight into the thinking of the creators. The menu system on the discs is functional and it prompts you for which disc to insert if you choose an episode or feature that isn’t on the disc you currently have inserted. You won’t be spending a great deal of time in the menus anyway, because what you are buying this for are the episodes of the show itself and there is no better way to see them than in high-definition.

The treatment is excellent, with the usual HD trademark of glorious colour, especially in the overblown flash-forward and flashback sequences. Even if you originally watched the show in high-definition on the BBC HD channel, the superior quality of the Blu-Ray discs over broadcast shines through. Without a doubt, this is the best way to watch the show.

With an excellent story, superb acting and fantastic production values all delivered in glorious high definition Damages is an essential purchase for those already aboard the Blu-Ray bandwagon.

Damages - Season One is available now to buy on DVD (RRP £34.99) and Blu-Ray (RRP £39.99), or get them for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

* The only line from the opening theme song to Damages (“When I Am Through With You” by The VLA, written specially for the series). It strikes a note of threat at the start of each episode that makes little impact initially but the further into the series you get the more ominous it becomes.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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