One of the frequent topics at the TCA press tour has been what a wonderful time it is to be an actress helming a cable show. From Kyra Sedwick in "The Closer" to Lili Taylor in "State of Mind" to Holly Hunter in "Saving Grace," smart, quirky, tough women are finally getting their due.
Tonight, Glenn Close joins that crowd as the star of "Damages," FX's new legal thriller that deftly traverses morality, greed and power. Close plays Patty Hewes, a high-profile attorney who is trying to take down the allegedly corrupt self-made billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). Hewes is kind of like The Devil Wears Prada's Miranda Priestly, but with even greater power and much higher stakes. Good luck finding her moral compass; frankly, I'm not sure she even has one.
Close's foil in the show is a young associate named Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne of 28 Weeks Later). Byrne gives Ellen a wide-eyed, plucky, eager-beaver attitude at first, but it was a darker scene of hers that got me hooked from the get-go, so to hear about that and watch a preview,
The show's first scene is a doozy: an elevator opens on Byrne's character, bloodied and wrapped in a trench coat; she takes off running through the streets of New York. Most of the rest of the first episode is told in a flashback, dribbling out a few of the puzzle pieces we'll need to piece together how Ellen ended up in such a dire situation.
While the acting — from Byrne and Danson as well as Close — is reason enough to watch this show, the overall crafting of their universe makes it stronger. Rarely have I watched a show with so much dramatic tension from scene to scene; there's an overwhelming sense that something gravely terrible could happen at any moment. This is more than just another lawyer show. It's also a thriller, a mystery, and a character study of one ruthless, fascinating woman.
Photo and video courtesy of FX