Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.
… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?
“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂
I binge watched Damages before House of Cards made binge watching a thing. That was because I didn’t hear about it until the show was only available either on DirectTV or iTunes. It gripped me so tightly I would download it on my iphone and watch it on the subway commute with headphones. Because I always use subtitles when I watch stuff, I made lots of friends with my Damages episodes on the train. The people sitting on either side of me couldn’t help themselves and read the subtitles over my shoulder. We watched the thrilling escapades and gasped together while a multitude of shocking events transpired on my tiny screen, a trio of strangers on the train. Damages, above all its many fine qualities, is one of those shows that just grabs you and doesn’t let go.
Damages was truly groundbreaking. It forged the pathway for women characters of substance and contradiction like Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife and Carrie Mathison on Homeland. This was thanks to the character Patty Hewes, the iconic cutthroat lawyer with an iron will and an empty cavern in her chest where a heart may have once beaten. Played by Glenn Close, Ms. Hewes terrifies all she encounters and for good reason; she mainly fights the monsters of our modern world, the Madoffs, the toxic waste creators, the mafia, and corporate malfeasance as a rule. Each season of the show is set on a single high stakes lawsuit and delves into perpetrator attempts to cover up the very same truths Patty is continually uncovering. But the real dirt flies on the sidelines in Patty’s life and those of her firm’s associates, especially Ellen played by Rose Byrne and Tom, Tate Donovan. There are just as many thrills in their private lives: murder, sex, drugs, bribery, and pretty much every other illicit act one can imagine.
All four* seasons enthrall equally with their non-linear storytelling that teases you at episode onset and pulls you into the thrill of the story. Amazing and complex characters make it all feel real. Not just Glenn Close as Patty Hewes but phenomenal actors such as Ted Danson, Lily Tomlin, Timothy Olyphant, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, John Goodman and many more bring thrills, shame, and mischief to life in every second of the the action. It’s riveting stuff that reaches deep into what makes people tick – namely those seven sins you’ve heard so much about. Everybody has secrets and it’s all interwoven so expertly with legal cases “ripped from the headlines” that it feels familiar while still shocking and amazing at every plot turn. Most of the time you won’t know who to root for because everybody takes their turn at villainy and they’ve all got a sad story in their sack labeled “personal history.” You’ll feel lots of things for the characters, Patty Hewes most of all. Her smiles are malicious nails in the coffins of her enemies… and sometimes her closest allies.
Here’s a rundown of each season’s raison d’etre but please keep in mind that they are all smashing good times that will break your heart, force you to question your stance on various ethical issues, and all the while keep you glued to the screen:
- Season one appears at first light to tell Bernie Madoff’s story until you notice that it aired before he was even caught. It’s more about insider trading and similar scumbaggery all wrapped up in a burrito of prostitutes and blow after a stunning amuse bouche of murder. Ted Danson stays with you long after the season is over as the unforgettable narcissistic douchebag, Arthur Frobisher.
- Season two is about a corporation dumping toxic waste into lakes in the South and it’s so exceptional you’ll feel the same thrall and intensity you got watching movies like The Insider and Michael Clayton. William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden compel and repel each other and the audience as labyrinthine characters skirting between secrets and lies at every twist of the spiraling plot.
- Season three tackles the Madoff story, changing critical elements while retaining the resonant core of the tale’s stinging truth. Martin Short and Lily Tomlin turn the stomach and compel in their creepiness as two of those left behind when the Madoff character kills himself the night before he goes to prison. This season devastates in an entirely new way when a major character gets killed off and it turns out they were one of the ruined victims of Madoff’s machinations.
- Season four enters the political sphere taking us to Afghanistan with a company called High Star, eerily reminiscent of Halliburton and war vets with issues up the wazoo. An exceptional John Goodman plays a CEO who fancies himself a terrorist eradicator and part time preacher, imparting the words of Jesus while he orders torture in tandem. Meanwhile the Damages regulars engage in fresh new transgressions and boundary breaches with such dramatic acumen we can’t help but forgive Rose Byrne for the horrendous bangs she sports all season.
* The first four seasons are thrilling and free on Netflix but if you want to see season five with the series finale you gotta shell out $25 on iTunes or amazon.