PILOT PREVIEW: ‘Damages’ from FX

During the season four premiere of “Rescue Me” I caught my first glimpse of the new FX legal thriller “Damages” starring Glenn Close, Rose Byrne and Ted Danson. The preview was intriguing and I immediately started to think I should try and get hold of someone over at FX and see if I can get an early look at the pilot (something I was wishing I had done for “Rescue Me”). Luckily, I didn’t need to contact anyone as I was soon sought out and asked if I would like to review the first episode of the upcoming 13 episode season. Uh, that would be a definite “Yes.” Let’s take a look at the preview before we get started:

Interesting? Intriguing? Are you wondering, like I was, why the hell that chick is running in the street covered in blood? Well, this 55 minute pilot episode answers that question, but will have you asking many more. “Damages” is going to be yet another hit FX drama series, a channel that certainly seems to know how to bring good, gritty television to the table.

The show is set in New York City and our central character is Ellen Parson played by Rose Byrne (I actually thought it was Robin Tunney the first time I saw the preview, but Rose is an even better choice). You may remember Rose from Troy where she played Briseis to Brad Pitt’s Achilles, or even as Scarlet in the recent 28 Weeks Later. Byrne is an accomplished young actress, something FX seems to have a knack in attracting… Cue Glenn Close.

This is Close’s second major appearance on the network as she had a season long stint on “The Shield” in 2005 as Captain Monica Rawling, a role that earned her an Emmy nomination. Close plays Patty Hewes in “Damages,” the nation’s most revered and reviled high-stakes litigator, and the object of Ellen’s professional ambition. The most interesting thing about how Close plays Patty is that you know there is something shady about her, but at the outset you like her ambitious nature and “take no shit” attitude, something you saw in that preview above. You keep thinking about how you are not supposed to like her, but you just can’t help it.

After a unique, to say the least, interview Patty hires Ellen for a position at her law firm and the storyline begins to unfold. The task at hand is a civil action lawsuit against Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), something of a comparison to Kenneth Lay of Enron fame. For all the nastiness you can feel swirling around Patty Hewes her heart seems to be in the right place as she wants to take down Frobisher at all costs.

The episode goes back and forth in time, beginning with the scene you see in the preview of Ellen running, blood soaked, through the streets of New York. A scene that is soon explained, but not in its entirety, as the episode comes to a close. Directed by Hollywoodland helmer Allen Coulter, this series premiere episode is certain to hook plenty of viewers with an ending that only makes you want to see the second episode right away (Where’s my copy FX!?!?). We also have the promise of a few other great directors on future episodes including Mario Van Peebles, Guy Ferland and Thomas Carter.

Go ahead and place this one next to “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me” as FX needed a show to fill the legal void on the channel, and “Damages” does a fine job at the outset.

“Damages” premieres Tuesday, July 24 at 10:00 PM on FX. We have 16 pics from the show and more info right here.

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