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March 29, 2010

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes in "Damages:" Still Rockin' It!

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Photo Courtesy FX

The FX legal thriller Damages, starring Glenn Close, is having a rip-roaring third season. It's gone back to the heyday of the first season with a flash forward/flashback storytelling technique that keeps eager viewers coming back for more, and it's got a fabulous plot with a Bernie Madoff-like scandal.

And, of course, it still has the marvelous Glenn Close as the deliciously deceitful Patty Hewes.

Our villains this season? The Tobin family. They're just like the Madoffs in that Louis Tobin, the patriarch, Ponzi-schemed the life savings out of hundreds of investors. Then one Thanksgiving dinner, he came clean to the rest of the family and let them know he was about to be carted off to the white collar version of Riker's Island.

Bet you never had that conversation with your family over the holiday turkey.

Enter Patty Hewes, who's been hired to get the money back for all those scammed investors. And as we all know, Patty may be devious in a myriad of ways, but she has a crusading streak that makes her stand up for the little guy -- at least when it's in her own interests.

What makes this season so exciting is that the first episode, like the first episode of season one, gave us a glimpse six months into the future. A future that included the death of a major character. A character we've come to know and love. A character we're going to miss.

You may know him as Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan), but to me, he's Tommyhawk.


Photo Courtesy FX

Patty's right-hand man for years, this season Tom was finally rewarded for his tenacity: Patty gave him a partnership. But no sooner do we see Tommyhawk supervising with pride and satisfaction the installation of the new sign -- with his name on it -- at Hewes Headquarters than we flash forward six months and discover Tommy's decomposing body in a dumpster.

It was a gasp-worthy moment, and brilliant plotting.

I'd feel sorrier about the loss of Tommyhawk if I didn't know that Tate Donovan has a new gig: He's joined the cast of the ABC drama pilot No Ordinary Family. And let's face it, Tommy had used up his plots. By giving us another dead body that we cared about -- like Ellen's fiance David, in season one -- the writers went back to a winning formula.

Speaking of Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), she's now in the district attorney's office, working the Tobin case from the criminal angle. Ellen's boss and Patty are supposed to be working together to bring the Tobins down but we all know Patty doesn't play well with others.

On the personal front, Patty's newly divorced from What's His Name (Michael Nouri), and her son Michael is about to turn her into Grandma Hewes. The future granny doesn't like the idea one bit, and has tried several times to buy off the offspring's mother, a woman 15 years Michael's senior.


Photo Courtesy FX

Besides the brilliant plotting this season, the casting has been particularly inspired. First there's comedy star Martin Short as Leonard Winstone, the Tobins' legal eagle, who's determined to protect the family. Short is marvelous, playing Winstone as an outsider who cleans up the messes of a family it appears he secretly wishes he was part of.

Campbell Scott is Joseph Tobin, the son who starts out disavowing his father's dirty profits, only to decide that if Daddy Tobin went to all the trouble of stealing the money, why shouldn't he spend it?

In another dramatic role played by a comedy star, there's Lily Tomlin as Marilyn, Louis Tobin's high society wife. Lily looks like she's been to the plastic surgery well once too often, but it's still nice to see her at work.

I gotta tell ya, though, it took me two full episodes not to expect Ed Grimley or Edith Ann to pop up in the middle of an interrogation with Patty Hewes.

As of last week, we even had a return visit from the wonderfully vain and crooked mogul, Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). Supposedly trying to redeem his criminal past, good old Art is hoping to get a movie made of his autobiography. Watching him trying to give writing tips to the producers of the film is a real hoot.

An even bigger hoot was good old Art meeting with Patty and the film's producers and lead actor, expecting her to give them insight into "the real Patty Hewes" for the movie, and her shooting him down in the most humiliating way possible.

Good times.

How did Tommy die? Will the Ponzi victims get their money back? Will Patty ever stop playing head games with Ellen? Stay tuned to Damages to find out.

"Damages" airs on FX, Mondays at 10 p.m.

Related Links:

Lily Tomlin Discusses Joining "Damages"

Underappreciated TV Stars

Jessica at Small Screen Scoop, Loves "Damages"

Ted Danson, The Humble Egotist


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