Damages: The Complete Second Season
Rated: Not Rated
Length: 559 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Languages: English Dolby Digital 5.1
You’re a lawyer. Lies come with the territory. – Patty Hewes
The first season of the FX television series Damages was both a critical and a commercial success. The series garnered three Emmy Awards and received a total of seven Emmy nominations. It did well enough in the ratings that FX renewed it for two additional seasons (the third season is scheduled to debut on FX later this month). Season Two, which is now available on DVD, also received seven Emmy nominations and won one. Two of the Emmy Awards for Damages have gone to Glenn Close (for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series), who stars as the high-powered civil litigator Patty Hewes. She is assisted by her protégée, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), who was hired by Patty straight out of law school. Ellen immediately went to work assisting Patty in her 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 profit 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, but Patty was not dissuaded by that development. She believed that she could win her case if only she could prove that Frobisher had been tipped off that damaging news about an SEC investigation into his company was going to be made public.
To provide more detail would spoil the show for those who have not yet seen the series, because each episode builds upon events which occurred previously. Suffice it to say that this is not a pretty business. 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. Season One concludes with the resolution of the Frobisher lawsuit, but that does not mean that the Frobisher storyline has ended. The end of Season One also marked a profound shift in the relationship between Patty and Ellen.
Season Two introduces the viewer to several new characters. Daniel Purcell (William Hurt) is a scientist who has a past with Patty. He asks for Patty’s assistance after he comes into possession of information which, he says, can take down an entire industry. When Ellen undergoes some counseling she meets 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 will clash with Patty in court. And, as noted above, there is still more to learn about Arthur Frobisher, so Ted Danson returns in that role.
These are the thirteen episodes from Season Two. I have not included synopses because they give away too much information to anyone who has not yet seen Season One:
I Lied, Too
Burn It, Shred It, I Don’t Care
I Knew Your Pig
Hey! Mr. Pibb!
I Agree, It Wasn’t Funny
A Pretty Girl in a Leotard
They Had to Tweeze That Out of My Kidney
You Got Your Prom Date Pregnant
Uh Oh, Out Come the Skeletons
Look What He Dug Up This Time
Damages is a first-class legal drama which features outstanding performances and excellent production values. However, it has to be seen from the very first episode to be fully appreciated.
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
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 contained only French subtitles, whereas Season Two contains only Spanish subtitles.
There are a number of extras on this set. Selected episodes include commentaries by members of the cast and crew. It is quite a revelation to hear Rose Byrne speak with her native Australian accent, because she does not betray a trace of it when she is in character. Also included is a recap of Season One, and a Season Two “Post Mortem” discussion by the show’s creators in which they express their feelings about how the season played out. Character profiles give some of the cast members the opportunity to discuss their parts. A number of deleted scenes from some of the episodes are available as well.
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. Disc one contains four episodes, disc two contains five 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.
Season One was released on both DVD and Blu-ray, but there has not been an announcement of a Blu-ray version of Season Two. I have seen rumors that sales of the Blu-ray version of Season One did not meet expectations, so there is no assurance that there will ever be a Blu-ray version of Season Two. If an announcement ever comes, you can be sure that you will find it on Home Theater Forum.
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