Review: Damages 1.1


In the US: Tuesdays, 10pm, FX

In the UK: Not yet acquired

Do we really need another show about lawyers? Haven’t we had just about every insight possible now into law, the lawyers, victims, etc?

And indeed, it’s tempting, at first, to assume that Damages is a show about lawyers. With a name like Damages, you might think it’s about the corrosive effect the law, crime, etc have on those who have to deal with it. To a certain extent you’d be right.

But Damages is really just a psychological thriller that happens to have the law as a backdrop. Starring Glen Close, Rose Byrne, Ted Danson and Tate Donovan, it’s a show about lawyers, all right. Really nasty, ruthless, backstabbing lawyers.

Plot (revealed during discovery from the FX web site)

Damages is a legal thriller set in the world of New York City high-stakes litigation. The series, which provides a view into the true nature of power and success, follows the turbulent lives of Patty Hewes, the nation’s most revered and reviled high-stakes litigator, and her bright, ambitious, prot?ɬ�g?ɬ� Ellen Parsons as they become embroiled in a class action lawsuit targeting the allegedly corrupt Arthur Frobisher, one of the country’s wealthiest CEOs. As Patty battles with Frobisher and his attorney Ray Fiske, Ellen Parsons will be front and center witnessing just what it takes to win at all costs, as it quickly becomes clear that lives, as well as fortunes, may be at stake.

Is it any good?

Rather than assuming this is going to tell you much about what real-life lawyers and legal work is like, think of this as a John Grisham novel for the small screen. Nothing and nobody really obeys the rules of normal human behaviour. Instead, everyone is trying as hard as possible to be as evil and devise as many plot twists as possible.

The only real difference between this and a Grisham thriller is that both the Tom Cruise character and the Gene Hackman character are female: Rose Byrne and Glenn Close respectively. And both are very good, as is the rest of the cast.

It’s a somewhat confusing first episode, leaping around in time and with characters saying things so confusing no one else can understand them, but it’s definitely clever and adult, which is something to be appreciated. It does, however, have the worst theme tune I’ve heard in a good few years.

If you like Grisham-esque thrillers and decent acting, Damages is right up your street. If you’re all lawyered out, you can probably give it a miss.

Here’s a YouTube trailer for you to size up for prelims.


Glenn Close (Patty Hewes)

Rose Byrne (Ellen Parsons)

Ted Danson (Arthur Frobisher)

Tate Donovan (Tom Shayes)

Anastasia Griffith (Katie Connor)

Noah Bean (David Connor)

Zeljko Ivanek (Ray Fiske)


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.