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"Damages:" "A+"

Rose Byrne - Ellen - is back to

Rose Byrne - Ellen - is back to have more fun with Patty Hewes Photo Credit: Mark Seliger / FX

  TV takes a bit of a pause tonight before Feb sweeps kick in - but only a bit, as most of the CBS slate is in repeat - but that doesn't mean there's plenty 'o new and interesting coming up.

  Notably "House" and "Chuck," as it continues morphing into "Get Smart," and of course "24," now at 9. 

  Keep an eye on "Damages," too, which launches the third season tonight. I gave the first two episodes an "A+," and believe it fully justifed. This season grabs the Madoff story and pile-drives Patty Hewes right into the center of it - she's hired by victims to collect their lost savings - while Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne, above) does all she can do to avoid the force of twisted nature who was her former boss.

  I posted the review below, but space considerations didn't quite allow me to add a couple additional thoughts. 

  Most notably keep in mind what happened last season: Ellen finally pried a confession out of Patty who had tried to kill her, while Tom (with the aid of Patty) cleverly turns the tables on a corrupt FBI investigation of Hewes that had roped him in as well. 

  As you may recall, the FBI investigation was acctually devised by a murderous energy company president  trying to destroy Hewes, etc. 

  It sounds complicated, but wasn't. The point is: Patty slipped  the knot once again, but as the third season begins, Ellen wants absolutely nothing to do with her. 

  But Hewes associate Tom Hayes - Tate Donovan - loops her back into Patty's orbit for his own complicated set of reasons.

 I hesitate to give away much more, but as usual, there are a lot of wonderful New York stage actors joining the season, and they include...Len Cariou, as the corrupt financier; Tom Noonan, as a dectective investigating a particularly odd crime; and Keith Carradine, as a mysterious stranger who approaches Patty for some reason (a reason that will become clear, in time.)

  It's a great series; glad to have it back...




  Reason to watch: A killer plot twist.

When/Where: Season premiere Monday at 10 on FX
A Madoff-inspired opener for 'Damages'

Bottom lilne: The season opener of "Damages" is gorgeously acted, written, paced, structured and conceived -- one of the best shows on TV -- and maybe the most enjoyably addictive.

Last season,
Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) finally squeezed the truth out of Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) - with the squeeze of a trigger, you might say. Patty admitted she ordered a hit on Ellen because of what she knew about the Frobisher case. Patty is later knifed by the crooked energy futures trader in the elevator. Ellen leaves the firm after the corrupt FBI surveillance of Patty, which she had been cooperating with, implodes.

What tonight's about:
With distinctive shades of Bernie Madoff, the district attorney wants billionaire Louis Tobin (Len Cariou), accused of defrauding thousands, thrown in jail, while Patty has been retained by his victims to recoup their losses. But Tobin insists he's been left penniless.

Naturally, Patty doesn't believe him, so she sets to work on the son, Joe (Campbell Scott), an apparently well-meaning guy who says he had no idea what dear old dad was up to. Joe is strong-armed by dad's attorney, Leonard Winstone (Martin Short), to stay away from Hewes. Also making things tough is Tobin's strong-willed wife, Marilyn (Lily Tomlin). Meanwhile, Ellen is working for the district attorney's narcotics unit, and wants nothing to do with Patty. Good luck with that.

My say: "Damages" fans know all too well that the show's three ringleaders - writers Glenn and Todd Kessler, and Daniel Zelman - aren't only master story tellers but master tricksters. Again from their bag of tricks comes time manipulation. The third season toggles between present tense and future - we go six months into the future - but viewers get only a partial view of each time frame. That's one of the pleasures of the "Damages" guessing game. What's been left out? And how are we being manipulated?

Grade: A+


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