Damages: The Complete First Season
Rated: Not Rated
Length: 581 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Languages: English Dolby Digital 5.1
There has never been a shortage of television programs about lawyers, but from Perry Mason to the Law and Order franchise they have tended to focus on criminal law. L.A. Law often delved into other areas of the law, because the firm dabbled in just about everything. Damages, a new series which has just been renewed for two more years by the FX network, is different. It focuses on a high-powered civil litigator, Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), whose interest is collecting money damages for clients who have been wronged. She is aided in her efforts by a recent law school graduate, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne).
Patty Hewes has filed a class action lawsuit against Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), a wealthy CEO. Frobisher allegedly persuaded his employees to invest their 401(k) funds in company stock, which temporarily pushed up the price of the stock. At the same time, Frobisher sold a substantial number of his own shares in the company, making millions for him. The price of Frobisher stock then plummeted and thousands of employees saw their 401(k) plans wiped out. Federal prosecutors tried to convict Frobisher on criminal charges of insider trading, but Frobisher and his stock broker contended that the sale of the stock was coincidental and was the result of a standing order which had been placed long before the sale took place. The authorities were never able to establish that there had been any contact between Frobisher and his stock broker around the time of the sale, and Frobisher was acquitted.
However, as O.J. Simpson discovered, an acquittal does not necessarily relieve someone of civil liability. Patty Hewes represents all of the Frobisher employees who lost their retirement funds, and she is determined to make Frobisher pay. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, both sides play for keeps. The key, from Patty’s standpoint, is to find evidence that Frobisher met with his stock broker during a trip to Florida just before the sale of Frobisher stock took place. Ellen, her new protégée, becomes in integral part of that effort. Then, just when you have made up your mind to root for Patty, you discover that she is as ruthless as she is successful.
This series has garnered excellent notices and Glenn Close won a Golden Globe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a television series. The series itself was nominated for Best Television Series (Drama), and Ted Danson and Rose Byrne also received Golden Globe nominations for their performances.
If you enjoy legal drama, this one is top-notch. This set contains all thirteen episodes from Season One.
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 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.
There are quite a few extras on this set. Selected episodes include commentaries by members of the cast and crew. Also included is a “making of” featurette entitled “Willful Acts: The Making of Damages” and another entitled “Trust No One: Insight from the Creators.” The set also contains an interactive featurette called “Understanding Class Action” which helps to explain how class action lawsuits work. Most of the extras are on Disc Three, while the deleted scenes and commentaries are spread across all three discs.
The main menu allows viewers the option of playing all episodes or individual episodes.
The 13 hour-long episodes are spread over three discs which come in two slimcases. The slimcases are held in a cardboard slipcase. Discs one and two each contain five episodes; disc three contains three 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 enjoy seeing her sink her teeth into a juicy role. The fact that FX has given the show a three-season commitment speaks volumes about the high regard in which the show is held.
Equipment used for this review:
Cambridge Audio DVD-89 DVD player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: January 29, 2008