Jarv in Spain. Part 2: TV

This time it’s TV, or more specifically, Damages.

Mrs Jarv is a big fan of the first series of Damages, and to be fair, she’s right, it is good. It’s nothing earth shattering, sure enough, but the story is compelling, the performances are good- with Ted Danson in particular acting against type and simply brilliant. Glenn Close is on form as the ruthless Patty Hewes and the series simply rattled along.

However, as is always the way, one successful series spawned some sequels, and as Mrs. Jarv loved them so much, she took the box sets to Spain. I’d already seen some of season three, and hated it, so I knew this was going to be rocky.

Contains paperwork and spoilers below.

Damages basically deals with Super lawyer Patty Hewes (Close), her associate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) and their high profile class action cases. There’s usually some serious corruption involved and the good guys win while the bad guys are punished. In Season one the bad guy was Squillionaire Arthur Frobisher (Danson) who’d been up to all sorts of naughtiness.

Structurally, most episodes close with a foreshadowing of the end, revealing a bit more of the climactic scene as the story comes to fruition. What’s interesting about the series, aside from Close and Danson, is the morally ambiguous nature of proceedings- even Ellen is a cut-throat bitch, while Patty frequently dabbles in a bit of her own light corruption.

Season one ended with Ellen joining the FBI to entrap Patty for corruption and bring her down.

Season 2

Brief plot synopsis coming. Ellen is undercover for the FBI at Hewes and Associates to entrap Patty. She’s got her own reasons for it (not least of which is that Patty tried to have her killed in season 1). In the meantime, an old flame of Patty’s  Purcell (William Hurt) is in trouble because he’s being threatened by a shady power company. She’s also having problems with her son Michael (Zachary Booth), and her husband who has succumbed to the oily charm of power broker Dick Pell (Clarke Peters).

Representing the defendant is Claire Maddox (Marcia Gay Harden), and the big bad bossman is Walter Kendrick (John Doman), who has more to hide than anyone could realistically hope for. Also making appearances are Mario Van Peebles, Danson, and more importantly Timothy Olyphant.

OK- I’m not sure where to go with this, because it is clearly shit. While Close and Hurt are good, while Harden flirts with brilliance, there are so many problems here that I think I’ll just bullet point them.

  • The Villains

Frobisher was a great villain. He was oily, charming, ruthless, and an equal match for Patty. Here, however, Kendrick and Pell are little more than obnoxious bullies, while Maddox (as good as Harden is, which is excellent) doesn’t have the screen time that Ray in the first series had. Therefore, the series doesn’t have the adversarial nature that the first one had, instead trying to focus more on human drama and intrigue. This doesn’t work, because Patty is such a strong character that she needs to face off against an equally powerful villain or the series doesn’t work.

  • Focus

As in: it has none. In all honesty, the series is all over the fecking place. Ellen in therapy (yawn), the shite with the FBI (eventually tied in), the domestic crap with Patty’s family, Tom’s wife giving birth, Frobisher returning, the security consultant from the first series, Hurt’s storyline, and on and on and on. You get the idea- there’s no central thrust to the storyline, and if anything it switches focus half way through from Purcell’s problem to the stock market manipulation. It’s a fucking mess if I’m honest.

  • Complication

It’s ridiculously and ludicrously complicated. The storyline is so so saturated with sub plots and extraneous detail that laying out that synopsis above gave me a bit of a headache. Furthermore, by moving it away from the law (huge mistake), the series feels like a standard conspiracy thriller with the so-called emotional touches not helping matters at all. Mostly because they’re meant to heavily involve Byrne, who can’t act.

  • Rose Byrne

As in: she sucks. She’s a bleeding terrible monotone talking actress with the emotional range of a wet teabag. Sadly, in Series 2 because of the time spent tying up the loose ends from Season 1 and the entire FBI sub plot (resolved through a very, very shitty deus ex machina) huge amounts of screen time are devoted to the awful whining cow.

  • Timothy Olyphant

As in: Wasted. He’s the wrong actor for this part, to begin with, and his eventual transformation at Byrne’s dubious charms stretches credibility more than a little bit. Still, the point is, don’t cast Olyphant if you’re not going to use him properly.

  • Laziness

The lack of research into this got on my nerves. This is repeated in the third series, but there’s a load of bollocks passed off as true that could have been sorted with 10 minutes on Google. Typically, I now can’t think of specific examples, but I did comment on it more than once. Furthermore, the resolution of the story in the final episode is ludicrously convenient.

Basically, it’s rubbish, and if you took Close out of it, then it would be utter mince. I think the plot is overly contrived, and they’ve overegged the pudding to such a ludicrous extent that it feels both bloated and unsatisfactory. Needless to say, I do not recommend Damages Series 2.

Next up, is Season 3, which makes Season 2 look like genius.

Until then,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

19 responses to “Jarv in Spain. Part 2: TV”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    yeah Season 2 wasn’t good and 3 isn’t great but its more interesting. Season 4 is very good and the current one, which is the final one, so far is lame.

    I think Byrne acts that way to hide the accent or she’s just a bad actress i go back and fourth on that one.

    • Jarv says :

      I think 3 sucks worse, but for different reasons.

      Byrne is an awful actress.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        season 3 for me at least was more interesting story wise then two they were comparable in quality which was rather low.Yet the nerds embrace this show for some reason that i do not understand. What’s her face that plays Patty is outstanding everybody is at best serviceable except for one or two people like Sam Malone for example

      • Jarv says :

        There’s always a few in every series. Malone, Harden, Tomlin, and so forth.

        Then there’s Byrne.

    • koutchboom says :

      Yeah Rose fucking killed it in Knowing. She was also good in Sunshine.

  2. Droid says :

    Byrne is an average actress in her native tongue, but acting with an accent is too much of a challenge. I’ve only seen her in a few things, but her performances are universally terrible when she has to do an American accent. Bridesmaids and Insidious are the two I’m thinking of. Never seen Damages. Kind of wanted to check it out, but may give it a miss.

    • Jarv says :

      Watch the first series- it’s brilliant. Byrne, actually, doesn’t suck in the first series, but she’s a minor character really- it’s mostly about Frobisher and Patty.

      It goes pear shaped badly in the second one- also, they take out all the sex, drugs and violence from it.

  3. tombando says :

    Never seen it, Marcia Gay Harden is a very good talent, and for that alone I will keep my eyes open for this.

    • Jarv says :

      Watch the first one. Harden is superb here, but it does rely on a lot of set up from the previous season.

      • tombando says :

        Seriously, I can remember Harold saying something along the lines of Harden not impressing him any and not being for him. This from the guy w the faptastic Chloe Moretz ‘reviews’….. Way to go guy.

      • Jarv says :

        I don’t understand that. Harden is a quality actress in everything I’ve seen her in. Fat ginger tool.

  4. tombando says :

    I think it was during Oscar season, and she was up for an award for Mystic River? She isnt one of Harolds pets, and was not in a Harold approved film.

    Regardless, Harden is an awfully solid actress, heck I remember her playing Ava Gardner 20 years back in a Sinatra tv bio. Was well cast. I was surprised to see this clown single her out.

    • Jarv says :

      Fat cretin.

      There’s something wrong with him- the wailing of Pan’s losing to Lives of Others was a prime example. Just because your favourite didn’t win doesn’t make the other film bad.

  5. ThereWolf says :

    I don’t mind Byrne, but… does she ever smile? I’ve never seen her smile in anything.

    Don’t think I’ll be watching this series though. Nothing about it grabs me. Mind you I’ve said that before about some films and then enjoyed them, so who knows…

    Nice one.

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