DVD Review Damages: The Complete Third Season DVD

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  1. Richard Gallagher

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    Damages: The Complete Third Season

    Studio: Sony
    Year: 2010
    Rated: Not Rated
    Length: 573 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
    Languages: English, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles: Spanish            

    The Program

    You’re a lawyer. Lies come with the territory. – Patty Hewes

    In a highly unusual move, the cable channel FX decided that it was no longer financially viable to continue producing Damages, the critically-acclaimed legal series which stars Glen Close as high-powered civil attorney Patty Hewes, following the conclusion of season three. For a time it appeared that the series was doomed to cancellation, until DirecTV came forward and agreed to invest in the show. FX actually wanted to continue carrying the show, provided that a willing producer could be found. However, DirecTV wanted to be involved only if it received exclusive rights to carry Damages. Consequently, season four will premiere on July 13, 2011 but will be available only to customers of DirecTV (which also has committed to a fifth season).

    Sony has timed the DVD release of season three to coincide with the debut of season four on DirecTV. Season three saw Damages continue to receive plaudits from critics and the show was nominated for five Emmy Awards. The first two seasons focused largely on Patty's class action lawsuit against wealthy businessman Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). Frobisher allegedly persuaded his employees to invest their 401(k) funds in company stock, which temporarily pushed up the price of the shares. At the same time, Frobisher sold a substantial number of his own shares in the company, making millions in profits for him. The price of Frobisher stock then plummeted and thousands of employees saw their 401(k) plans wiped out. Federal prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to convict Frobisher on criminal charges of insider trading, In the meantime, Patty hired a recent law school graduate, Ellen Parson (Rose Byrne), who became Patty's protégée. The relationship between Patty and Ellen became strained as the Frobisher lawsuit spiraled into manipulation, deceit, witness tampering and violence.

    Season two introduced several new characters. William Hurt joined the cast as Daniel Purcell, a scientist who had a past with Patty. He asked for Patty’s assistance after he came into possession of information which could take down an entire industry. While Ellen underwent some counseling she met Wes Krulik (Timothy Olyphant), whose girlfriend was run down and killed by a drunk driver. Claire Maddox (Marcia Gay Harden) is a corporate attorney who clashed with Patty in court.

    As season three begins, Ellen has walked away from the Hewes firm and has become a prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Meanwhile Patty has commenced litigation on behalf of investors who were defrauded through a Ponzi scheme perpetrated by the wealthy and powerful Tobin family, led by matriarch Marilyn Tobin (Lily Tomlin) and her son Joe (Campbell Scott). The Tobins are defended by their attorney, Leonard Winstone (Martin Short), and Patty is aided by her longtime associate, Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan). Ellen the finds herself dragged back into Patty's world when the D.A. decides to look into possible criminal charges against the Tobins. Season three even includes a guest appearance by Ted Danson as Arthur Frobisher, an appearance which earned Danson an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series. Other Emmy nominations for season three went to Close, Byrne, Tomlin and Short. Keith Carradine appears in several episodes as Julian Decker, a man who has a mysterious connection with Patty.

    Anyone who believes that civil law is bland stuff may want to reconsider after watching Damages.  People die, others are falsely accused, it is often difficult to tell if characters are being truthful or deceitful, and there are double-crosses and betrayals aplenty.

    These are the thirteen episodes from season three. I have not included synopses because they give away too much information to anyone who has not yet seen the first two seasons of Damages.

    Your Secrets are Safe
    The Dog is Happier Without You
    Flight's at 11:08
    Don't Throw That at the Chicken
    It's Not My Birthday
    Don't Forget to Thank Mr. Zedeck
    You Haven't Replaced Me
    I Look Like Frankenstein
    Drive it Through Hardcore
    Tell Me I'm Not Racist
    All That Crap About Your Family
    You Were His Little Monkey
    The Next One's Gonna Go in Your Throat

    Damages is a first-class legal drama which features outstanding performances and excellent production values. Unfortunately fans of the show who are not subscribers to DirecTV likely will have to wait until next year to watch season four, when it will be coming out on DVD.

    The Video

    The anamorphic widescreen transfer is very crisp and looks terrific. Flesh tones are natural and the colors are solid throughout. I did not observe any digital artifacts. Shadow detail is excellent. The New York City locations are used to great effect. All in all, this is an excellent transfer.

    The Audio

    The Dolby Digital soundtrack is quite involving at times. There are a number of very dramatic scenes during which the soundtrack demonstrates considerable strength and dimensionality. The dialogue is clear and intelligible throughout, so the absence of English subtitles should not be an issue for most viewers. Curiously, the DVD of season one contains only French subtitles, whereas seasons two and three contain only Spanish subtitles.

    The Supplements

    There are a number of extras on this set. Selected episodes include commentaries by members of the cast and crew. Each episode also has an optional introduction. A 'look behind the camera" featurette, "Directing Damages," includes insights from director Todd Kessler and writers Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman. Also included are deleted scenes, a blooper reel and a retrospective featurette entitled "Damages Season 3: A Look Back."

    The Packaging

    The 13 hour-long episodes are spread over three discs which come in two slimcases. The slimcases are held in a cardboard slipcase. Disc one contains five episodes, disc two contains four episodes, and disc three contains four episodes and most of the extras. .

    The Final Analysis

    Damages boasts an outstanding cast, excellent writing and superb production values. Anyone who enjoys legal dramas should give this show a look. Fans of Glenn Close will delight in her performance, as this role seems to have been created for her. The interesting array of guest stars adds to the appeal of season three.

    Season one was released on both DVD and Blu-ray, but there was no Blu-ray of season two and it is unlikely that there will be a Blu-ray of season three. Consequently, this DVD set is probably as good as it is going to get.

    Equipment used for this review:

    Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
    Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
    Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
    BIC Acoustech speakers
    Interconnects: Monster Cable

    Release Date: July 12, 2011

     

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