Damages Review: Sunday’s TV
DAMAGES, BBC1, Sunday 15th February 10.20pm Alert Me
Damages is the next in that line of great American TV crossing the Atlantic. Following House, Six Feet Under and the Wire, Damages has the potential to become a cult hit here, as well as a blockbuster on the other side of the pond.
Damages is a perfectly pitched piece of drama, with none of the melodrama that often comes included with American law shows. Despite the use of some fairly hackneyed techniques – flashbacks and “hauntings” turn up a few times in Damages – they are never prevalent enough to spoil your enjoyment of some damned good television. The writers have managed to pull of a sombre law drama, which is no mean feat considering that most viewers want some sort of light relief even in the most dramatic television.
The stars, particularly Rose Byrne as Ellen and Glenn Close as Patty, truly impress (even in flashback!). They maintain a level of tension and suspense which is pretty much matchless on the small screen. The relationships between the characters are written to be complex, and the actors carry it off with aplomb, giving their interactions remarkable depth.
As a narrative, the story is well structured, revolving around two or three linear, interweaving storylines. Occasionally, though, there are moments of laziness in the screenplay. Often they are made necessary by the format and are useful in catching up those who have lagged behind, but they are nonetheless jarring in an otherwise near-on impeccable drama.
The only issue with this episode is that if you haven’t seen the first series, everything can seem a bit loose. A lot is happening very fast, and whilst the flashbacks go some way towards filling the gaps, the casual viewer still pretty much feels lost for the first half of the episode. However, persevere with Damages and you’ll be quickly rewarded.
By Chris Harding