Monday, October 29, 2007


Today's column is a mailbag, dealing in part with the possibility (probability?) of a WGA strike, the whereabouts of the "Law & Order" mothership, and the end of "Damages" (which I didn't see).


AlexR said...


I tried commenting at the actual website, but I mainly wanted to agree with you, expcet to say that I gave up on "Damages" after 2 episodes. I found it hard to watch on a lot of levels - but mainly because it was confusing, uninteresting where I didn't want to unwrap the surprise, and found the star, Rose Byrne, to be a rather weak actress.

There was only one truly smart, great cable series that started this Summer - "Mad Men". Although "Mad Men" had their own giant hiccup with that completely unreal Peggy pregnancy storyline.

Steve said...

During the first few episodes I was disappointed with Rose Byrne --she had all the charisma of a dishrag. But as the story unfolded, she became less innocent and much savier, and ended up outplaying Patty Hewes and all her flunkies in the deadly mindgames that were the basis of the drama. As her role improved, my assessment of her acting likewise grew.

I'm surprised that Alan S., who had such enthusiasm for "Kill Point," a series in which the flaws were at least as glaring, would so greatly prefer that summer series to "Damages". Perhaps, while "Damages" was unfolding he had his screener DVDs to watch, while the rest of us didn't have much else original to view during the late summer. I ended up getting hooked on the show, and even during the fall season I found myself enjoying "Damages" more than most of the returning series that I had been looking forward to.

BTW, Matt Roush at TVGuide did extol quite favorably on the season (series?) finale, for those who want to read a critic's appraisal of "Damages".

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm surprised that Alan S., who had such enthusiasm for "Kill Point," a series in which the flaws were at least as glaring, would so greatly prefer that summer series to "Damages".

"Kill Point" never pretended to be anything other than the pulpy B-miniseries that it was, where "Damages" (at least during the period I watched it) put on airs of quality that I didn't think were well-deserved. Plus, I just found it boring, which was rarely a problem with a macho thriller like "Kill Point."

And the only episode of the series that I watched on a screener was the pilot, I think. There was virtually nothing of interest on TV at the time "Damages" premiered, and yet I still preferred to watch other stuff (movies, my Freaks and Geeks DVDs, whatever) instead of it.

Trotsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trotsky said...

I think what the previous commenter meant regarding screeners" is that you had screeners for the upcoming fall shows to keep you occupied instead of the bland summer fare the networks feed the masses.
That said, Damages still didn't last past three episodes on my TiVo.

(previous post deleted due to typo/clarity issue - sorry)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Brian, if that was what Steven meant, it absolutely wasn't the case, as I was uninspired by all but a few network pilots and was desperate for something on cable to impress me. "Mad Men" did, "Damages" didn't.

Trotsky said...

I feel bad you couldn't wait until September like the rest of us - the weight of your viewing sorrow must have been a tremendous burden to bear alone.
At least we've all been given a break this October - a World Series sweep means three less Nights of McCarver.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your assessment of Damages as empty calories in a fancy package, but damn if that wasn't one fancy package! The story itself was kind of blah, but I was hooked from the way the creators chose what to reveal and when to reveal it. That being said, it took a good six or seven episodes to get to the point where you genuinely feel like they just might pull this off. Still, I'm not surprised by the general lack of enthusiasm (and ratings). The first half of the season provided few reasons to stick around, their importance not signficant until the last act.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say, despite agreeing with you on a bunch of things (and checking here once a day because your blog posts are quite enjoyable), I can't agree with criticism to Damages. The acting is great, whether it be Close, Danson, Željko Ivanek or the rest of the cast. By the end of the season, Byrne especially impressed me, and you realise later it was her character who was boring early on. The story always intrigued me, and I can't say I found the problem of characters doing things to service the plot instead of the other way around, to be honest. Every episode got you to know more about each character, and their motivations became a little clearer.

The past weeks, my sister and I would wait a couple weeks and watch 2 or three in a row, and it would be immensely satisfying. Wednesdays (as we'd watch them a day late) quickly became exciting again, something rare on the non-Lost season. And then, of course, Pushing Daisies came and Wednesdays continued to be great.

Whereas Mad Men, a HUGE critical darling, is just something I can't connect with. I see the authenticity, and I love it, but my God this series is boring. I'm surprised anyone who was bored by Damages could even sit through an episode of this. It's pretty, but neither of the first two episodes could convince me it was interesting. I honestly don't know why I'm supposed to care about any of these characters. I'll finish the season, because Friday Night Lights eventually grew on me, but it's gotta meet me halfway at some point.

K J Gillenwater said...

I am one of the viewers who loved "Damages" from the very first episode. I loved the cliffhanger moment at the end...I was *shocked.* And TV rarely does that to me anymore. I had no idea where it was going and looked forward to each episode with more enthusiasm than 1/2 the shows I watch on a regular basis.

I think Alan's criticism was unduly harsh...sometimes I just can't quite figure it out. But then again, I've never liked "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Entourage," or any number of shows Alan has liked. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

I also agree with was the character Rose Byrne played and not the actress who was boring. Ellen reminded me of any super-smart person who is very quiet on the outside, but on the inside she has a lot going on. Which she revealed in the last few episodes. To see a young lawyer out-dupe the master (Patty) was pure pleasure from start to finish.

I hope F/X has the smarts to renew the show.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the woman who thought Back to You had been cancelled as she was clueless about Fox and Baseball, let me echo this posting my brother made to a House mailing list, yesterday

And, as someone who grew up in Boston, on behalf of the Red Sox, to all you House fans:

You're welcome. :-)

Pam from Boston
(where, apparently, we try to interfere with the Fox schedule for as few days as is possible)

and I'm off to read your take on the strike (okay, that was brief)

afoglia said...

I don't think Alan was too hard on "Damages." I saw the entire season, and he pegged it perfectly. It was a legal thriller, like a Grisham novel written by Ayn Rand, but with pretentious airs. The problem with those shows is it really needs to be perfect. Any plot hole, any reliance on "circumstance", destroys any believability. Luckily, by the last few episodes, the writers made it clear they had the plot all planned out in advance. Many such shows don't. But the reward still wasn't great. It never grew into the great show it wanted to be.

"Mad Men" was the opposite. It started slow, but grew and grew to become the better show.