Damages-Complete Third Season (2009)

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Released 27-Oct-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Introduction-Total of 31:09, approx. 2 mins for each episode.
Deleted Scenes-(12:19) : 19 short scenes 1.78:1 and 16x9
Audio Commentary-On two episodes w creators plus Byrne,Short and Donovan.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(21:16 Total) : Four short featurettes 1.78:1 and 16x9.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 550:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (40:00)
Multi Disc Set (3)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Todd A. Kessler
Glenn Kessler
Daniel Zelman
Tate Donovan
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Glenn Close
Rose Byrne
Tate Donovan
Campbell Scott
Martin Short
Lily Tomlin
Len Cariou
Ten Danson
Ana Reede
Timothy Olyphant
Zachary Booth
Vanessa Ray
Reiko Aylesworth
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music James S. Levine


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Hindi
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The third season of the Fox drama series Damages is now available from Sony, actually before its release in the United States. Though it may often be referred to as "that legal show with Glenn Close", the series is much more than a one-woman show. This is a taut ensemble drama that sustains its dramatic tension right through to the final moments of the season finale. If you have seen the first two seasons, this is a must. If you are not yet a fan of the series, it is possible to jump in with Season Three but you undoubtedly then will want to catch up on what happened to these fascinating people in the first two years.

     Picking up twelve months after the close of the second season, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is now working for the D.A.'s office, while her former boss Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) is championing a class action against the Tobin family. Louis Tobin (Len Cariou) is responsible for a fraudulent financial scheme, referred to in the script as "a Ponzi scheme", the name coming from a 1920s investment fraud perpetrated by one Charles Ponzi. The Tobin fraud has resulted in massive losses for investors, billions of dollars, investors who unknown to Patty happen to include Patty's associate Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan). Patty has vowed to destroy the Tobin family; Louis, his wife Marilyn (Lily Tomlin), son Joseph (Campbell Scott) and daughter Carol (Ana Reeder). The Tobin family, assisted by their lawyer Leonard Winstone (Martin Short), has developed a scheme to hide the money from authorities by getting it out of the country. This is achieved by using Joseph's former lover and her daughter, Tessa (Vanessa Ray), whose very existence is unknown to Joseph. Added to this mix is Patty's estranged son Michael (Zachary Booth) and his older lover, a mysterious homeless man, and a few characters from the first two seasons which allows us to see Ted Danson and Timothy Olyphant again, plus others peripheral to the central drama.

     As is obvious, the cast of characters are extensive, and a mere plot resume makes it sound like a monstrous legal soap opera. It is the great accomplishment of the creators / writers that they are able to juggle all of these characters and their conflicts into one cohesive drama. Once again, as in the first two seasons, the writers employ the "flash forward" device, whereby the audience sees events six months into the future, events which we at first do not comprehend but which gain in clarity as the "present" moves closer to the flash-forward time frame. From the first episode of this season we learn of the death of one of the main characters, but not until the final episode do we understand what has lead to this death. This is extremely clever story-telling and it gripped me as I became totally engrossed in the ever unfolding plot.

     Performances are perfection, which is becoming the norm for the very best of the U.S. drama series. Series such as Dexter and Breaking Bad have taken TV drama to another level and we seem to have entered a golden age of intelligent, adult TV drama. Glenn Close is fascinating as the often ruthless Patty, although there are moments of tenderness where the maimed human underneath is revealed. Usually totally controlled, there are moments of unleashed passion and when these occur Close is a lightning bolt of supercharged energy. It is a shame that the close-ups are as "fogged" as they are on the often devastated features of the actress, any cosmetic surgery only adding another layer of ugliness to the image of the hardened woman. Patty's loss of youth is heightened by the contrast with the serene and lovely face of Rose Byrne. The Australian actress is very good indeed, although the nature of her part is to be the blank slate upon which all is writ. Tate Donovan is also excellent as Tom and the rest of the cast is, in one word, perfect. Len Cariou, Martin Short and Lily Tomlin bring to their roles their wealth of experience on stage and in stand-up, giving layer upon layer to everything they do and say. Zelko Ivanek gets to reprise his dead character, while late in the season Ted Danson and Timothy Olyphant also return somewhat briefly. Although there is a resolution to their former involvement in the series, I found their appearances a little distracting. Keith Carradine is in four episodes and we do get the opportunity to enjoy a wealth of stage talent in minor roles. There is Craig Bierko, Broadway star of The Music Man and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Debra Monk and Marianne Plunkett to name just three.

     The production values of a big series like Damages are amazing. It all looks like an expensive feature film. Interiors, exteriors, wardrobe, lighting, music, editing, photography, colour - this is a class effort. But more important than any of this is the origins of it all, and that is in the writing. The credit has to go to the creators / writers of the show, Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman, who have, incidentally, all directed episodes of the series. The final scene of the season leaves an indelible image, and is a totally satisfactory, if enigmatic, conclusion to the three seasons that we have to date. I would love to have a Season Four to look forward to.

     The following episodes are included in this series. The length of each episode is given, without and with the recap.

     Disc 1

     Disc 2

     Disc 3

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video transfer is very attractive, though not up to the highest standard of new made-for-TV product.

     The transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced, spread over three dual-layered discs. Sharpness does vary from sequence to sequence, influenced I would surmise by the degree to which close-ups of Glenn Close have been softened. Generally, if she appears in a scene then that entire scene will probably be not quite as sharp as Close-free scenes. Detail throughout is solid, whether in the daylight scenes, exteriors, interiors, or dark evening sequences. The colour is extremely attractive, with a muted autumnal look to many scenes. I kept being reminded of the look of Robert Redford's directorial masterpiece Ordinary People, beautifully controlled and tasteful. Blacks are deep and solid, while skin tones are excellent.

     The flash-forward sequences have a bluish tint, and are differentiated from "the present" by their general appearance. There were no artefacts noted of any kind.

     The English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles were sampled and found to be excellent. Subtitles are also provided in German, Hindi and Turkish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are two audio streams on each disc, English and German; both are Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 384 Kbps.

     Another level of enjoyment is added by the excellent soundtrack to the series. Dialogue is front and centre, clean and clear with no sync problems. Generally there is a busy sound design which really adds energy to the dramatic shenanigans. Directional effects, such as cars moving out of frame and doors slamming, add vitality throughout.. The surrounds also provide quite a lot of ambience, and some dramatic punch. Traffic sounds, restaurant buzz, country critters (Episode 4, 16:10) and the subway (Episode 6, 11:45) are only a few instances of a very active and immersive sound field.

     The music of the series, composed by James S. Levine, is especially dynamic and is pumped out quite enthusiastically through all channels. The subwoofer provides conspicuous impact where needed (Episode 3, 35:20).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu

     A clever jagged jig-saw montage is presented with music from the series.

Episode Introductions

     A short introduction of roughly two or three minutes per episode is provided by the three creators, Glenn and Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman. The three sit casually in directors chairs and briefly discuss what they are trying to achieve in each episode. Short snippets are also provided by some of the actors, including Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. There is nothing very enlightening here, but it is brief, enjoyable and personable. Presented 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. Disc 1: 13:15, Disc 2: 08:40, Disc 3: 09:14

Deleted Scenes

     These are very short and add little to what already has been shown. All are presented 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Short Featurettes

     These "featurettes" are rather disappointing, with much repetition and not much of any real value said. All are presented 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced.

     Disc 2: Damages Season Three Teaser : Full Disclosure : Damages Season 3 (6:08) : Standard promotional sneak peek at the season.

     Disc 3: Directing Damages (5:39): The three creators mainly discuss the issue of wearing three hats, being writers, producers and directors of the series.

     Sometimes You Just Get Damaged (6:53): This is a collection of genuine bloopers from the shooting, made all the more amusing because everyone is always so very serious in the series itself. Good fun.

     Damages Season 3 : A Look Back (2:36): The same heads saying much the same thing, congratulating themselves on what they have achieved.

Episode Commentaries

     Disc 2 : You Haven't Replaced Me

     Commentary is provided by Martin Short, Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman.
This is a chatty, superficial commentary which really gives us no information of any importance. It is admitted that the series was initially referred to as "that legal show with Glenn Close". Martin Short mentions, and that's all he does, his previous experience with Miss Close on Mars Attacks and her appearance with Jiminy Glick. Mr Short expresses a deep appreciation of the work of Campbell Scott before the chat is interrupted to appreciate Marianne Plunkett's one brief scene in the episode.. The chat closes with a discussion of the importance of editing. Enjoyable though not very edifying.

     Disc 3 : The Next One's Gonna Go in Your Throat

     Commentary by Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan, Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman.
This is another lightweight discussion, with lots of laughing from all concerned. They seem pleasant people, but that's about all we learn. We are informed that on the day of the discussion Tate Donovan had two bicycles pinched from in front of his house. They talk about the dogs owned by the actors, the importance, or otherwise for Tate Donovan, of wardrobe. The subject of "working with Glenn" is raised a few times, but nothing revealing is ever said. Much reverence and respect is paid, although she is referred to once as "good old Glenn"! Rose Byrne is questioned as to whether or not Martin Short is known in Australia, and her knowledge of him is limited to Three Amigos! and Father of the Bride. We do learn that there is no certainty of a Season Four, and that Timothy Olyphant has made a TV sci-fi series called Justified! Again, enjoyable but superficial.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    To date there has been no release of Season Three in the United States.

Summary

     This is one of the superior, adult TV drama series. A terrific cast is headed by Glenn Close but this is in no way a "one woman show". Crammed with fascinating characters, the plot is engrossing and the production values are exemplary. Season Three can be enjoyed as a gripping stand alone experience, but if it is your introduction to Damages you're sure to want to go back to the first two seasons. This is compulsive viewing which I devoured in a couple of sittings. Looks good, sounds great, but the extras are on the weak side.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Friday, November 12, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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