Ah, the welcome return of Ted Danson. Star acting-transformation of Series 1, as the shock-white-haired reformed fraudster Arthur Frobisher, tangled up en passant in series 2, he returns now to further strengthen the acting array in Series 3. What is his connection to the fraudster Tobins? Aside from the F word and being screwed over by Glenn Close’s Patty Hewes, we can only wait and see.
The “Anteegwan” (phonetically rendered so it’s like you’re listening to the show) connection to the Tobin stashed millions continues to prove hard to crack for Patty and co, thanks to the efforts of Junior Soprano, sorry Mr Zedeck. He manages to ensure the key officials are “financially motivated”. Nice phrase.
Lovely scene where Zedeck and Tobin lawyer Winstone (this season’s acting turn around Martin Short) advise each other knowingly to be careful over the death of key witness Danielle Marchetti, each thinking the other was the guilty party. Turns out neither was: “well if you didn’t do it, who did?”
Given that Tobin junior is sinking ever deeper into the post-Ponzi shit storm created by his dad, it’s unsurprising that he knows who did. He’s now deceiving his mum, by hiding away his increasingly nutty sister, who (yes indeed) has poisoned his former mistress/mother of their half-sister. I’m sure there’s some half dozen Greek myths being thrown into the mix here. We’re just short someone being screwed by a swan, but give it time. Continue reading
It’s a fun game to think of all the old films whose plots wouldn’t work in the era of mobile phones: Dial M for Murder, The Sting, Finding Nemo (allowing for fish mobiles). By contrast nowadays they get routinely deployed as key plot device, notably The Wire which undermined its very name as Stringer Bell’s crew used and summarily tossed untraceable pay-as-you-go cells.
But I can’t recall a piece of TV where mobiles became a trope (critical theory term, mate) – meaning they signified something more than just being a means of saying “hi” while walking. Damages episode three however pulled off this – so subtly though I’m not sure if I just imagined it.
Each scene had – naturalistically and not artificially imposed – a mobile conversation, from bars, from offices, from airports, from streets. And it mattered not which side you were on – DA and private lawyer, victim and villain, Hewes and Winstone – all played out the action on their cells. Everyone except the estranged-from-Patty-Hewes-never-to-return Ellen Parsons, as she spent time away from NY with her hick family in the sticks.
The mobiles came to represent the sticky, tangled web of connections linking everyone together and which you can’t escape – with Patty as the spider pulling them all together. And there, in the very last scene, what happens? As Ellen contemplates her broken family life with innocent old-technology VHS family movies playing in the background, she picks up her cell for the first time and calls Patty. Cue music. Ellen is back in the web.
Of course, I could be hopelessly deluded. What makes me think they were trying something is that they had not one single Tommy’s-in-the-dumpster “flash forward to the end” scene, which is as much a signature of the programme as The Wire’s McNulty getting drunk in a bar or Vic getting eye-poppingly angry in The Shield.
Damages is taking a risk in season three, seemingly hinging its action around Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan), who has not been the brightest light in the Damages starry array. Tommy is certainly the fulcrum around which episode two pivots.
The key moment is actually a great use of silence and stillness – set between rapid scenes where the dialogue never lets up for a second – as Tommy gazes shocked at a mystery file handed to him by a fellow Hewes associate. The moment seems to last forever as he stares into the abyss.
Turns out that he has all his stock invested with a broker who then secretly placed that investment in Tobin’s now collapsed ponzi scheme. His family’s future (and his cousins’ and his parents’ and his friends’ – as he angrily tells his wife) is wholly tied up in it. Never heard of a balanced portfolio? For a smart lawyer he sure is dumb.
It shows the power of the scene that you empathise fully as you envisage his destroyed future stretching ahead of him – and only then remember, oh yes, he’s going to be found dead in the dumpster in 6 months anyway. Such are the twisty-turny joys of Damages.
The acting coaches must have got to work on Tate Donovan since he now has way more than two facial expressions – somewhere upwards of six I counted in this scene alone. Way to go. By the end of the series he’ll be up to … oh wait. He’ll just have the one.
Patty Hewes for once takes a bit of a back seat in this episode, but provides a diverting subplot romp with soon to be ex-husband Phil. Toying with him mercilessly through the divorce proceedings, which is fun to watch. And even stooping low enough to use their dog’s apparent illness as leverage. Dumb employees and dumb animals, she’ll use anyone to get what she wants. Continue reading
arialbold has been an excited quivering wreck since discovering the third season of Damages was upcoming on BBC. With Glenn Close as ice-queen who-will-she-get-next NY lawyer Patty Hewes, nothing is ever what it seems.
With Damages, practically the only things you seem to be able to rely on are the opening titles which have passed unscathed through into their third series. I figured everyone would want to copy The Wire and have their opening music covered by a different cool artist each series – but maybe with Damages they need to leave you something that tells you which way is up.
The other now perennial feature – which gets a tad annoying at times – is that whenever they cut to what will be the denouement which gets slowly revealed episode by episode, everything goes slightly off kilter, with washed out colour and “eek eek” music. It’s a useful signalling device in case you wonder why the person you have just seen bouncing happily round the office is now dead in the dumpster and oh he’s alive again.
And as a piece of TV rhetoric it’s great – constantly changing your perspective on what you’re seeing as the backstory unfolds. In other hands it could be poor – and it verged on the hammer whack when you saw loyal and much put upon Hewes associate Tommy Shayes (who sadly only has two acting styles – happily stunned or unhappily annoyed – and wears that David Steel sartorial suicide note, the white collar and coloured shirt) watching his name going up on the door of the firm alongside Patty Hewes’, all the while you knew, you just knew, it was going to be him in the dumpster.
And this is clearly the show to be on if you want to make a strong left-field career move. Dunno who their acting coach is but boy are they worth it. Glenn Close had already made great TV with The Shield, but season one showed Ted Danson was not Sam Malone. Season two had William Hurt doing his best stuff since way back. And now season three – Martin Short! Continue reading