Damages returns, plus a crime show for the commitment phobic
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

One of the best shows on television that you may or may not be watching is FX's Damages. On one hand, it's a shame more people don't tune in, because the writing is excellent and the production values are great. Glenn Close puts on an acting clinic as Patty Hewes, a relentless and morally corrupt lawyer. The central mystery is compelling and often leaves you breathlessly awaiting the next episode. On the other hand, the story is extremely intricate and absolutely demands that you pay attention to every scene, every line uttered. It's a show that punishes you for missing even one episode. So I do understand why people are reluctant to tune in. You simply cannot watch the show unless you're willing to watch every episode of the season, and you have to start with Season 1 to fully understand the plots of season 2, and presumably, season 3. I know that that's simply too much of a commitment to entice some people, even in the age of the DVR and TV on DVD.

Nonetheless, I can't recommend the show highly enough. While the show does punish you for missing an episode, on the flip side, it's also a very rewarding show for those willing to sit through all 11 episodes of a season. I firmly believe that if nothing else, you should treat yourself to Season 1 of the show, which ranks among my more perfect TV experiences ever. The tightly plotted season begins with Ellen Parsons (star Rose Bryne) bursting out of her apartment covered in blood, clearly having just witnessed something horrible. The show then jumps back 6 months prior, as we see the same woman just starting to work for Patty Hewes. By the end of the first episode, a brutal murder is revealed in the present, and the show then spends the next 10 episodes walking us through just what exactly happened in the span of those 6 months.

For those of you who are all caught up, don't forget that Season 3 starts this upcoming Monday, January 25th. Head over to the Televisionary blog, where Jace has a nice sneak preview review of the new season. I'm super excited for the new guest stars this season: Lily Tomlin, Martin Short and Campbell Scott join the cast this year. I'd also like to note that the show has one of my favorite title sequences ever.

For those of you who may be more commitment-phobic when it comes to your television shows, I'd like to recommend a show I finally got around to checking out: ABC's crime drama Castle. I had avoided the show at first because, although I love star Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Dr. Horrible fame), I thought it was yet another cop procedural. However, I was greatly mistaken. Castle is best described as "Murder She Wrote, but with a dude in the Angela Lansbury role." Now, I mean that in the best possible way: Nathan Fillion is incredibly charming in the lead role as Richard Castle, best selling mystery novelist and all around smarmy rich guy. He has good chemistry with Stana Katic, who plays a NYPD detective Castle is shadowing as "research" for his new series of crime novels.

Basically, it's a fun, mystery-of-the-week show, with a dose of "will they, won't they" sexual tension thrown in between the two leads. It's the kind of show that you can probably just pick up and watch at any point, and in any order, since the episodes seem largely self-contained. You can watch episodes free online at the show's official site to see how you like it.

Of course, ideally, you'd see the merits of having both shows in your life and make the decision to watch both of them.

One final programming note: tonight on ABC, you can catch the pilot episode of Modern Family at 8pm, with a new episode of the show following at 9pm. If you have somehow avoided watching this brilliant new sitcom, this is your chance to jump on board. Modern Family's pilot is as close as show will ever getting to a perfect launch.
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