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'Damages': Its future is still in question

Damages1 “Damages” may not have drawn the hordes of viewers FX had hoped for when it launched the legal psychodrama this summer, but stars Glenn Close and Ted Danson said today that the low ratings haven’t eroded the satisfaction they’ve gotten from the series.

“It’s one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had,” Danson said during a conference call with reporters to tout the season finale, which airs Oct. 23.

Playing corporate chieftain Arthur Frobisher, who is locked in a bloody litigation fight with Close’s steely attorney, Patty Hewes, “has reinvigorated my desire to act,” he added.

As for Close, “I have not put myself through the ringer worrying about numbers,” she said. “I do know we’ve created something to be really, really proud of, and it would have an exciting future if we get that chance.”

That remains to be seen. As producers make the final edits on the last episode, FX executives are pondering whether to bring the show back for another season.

John Landgraf, president of FX Networks, sounded anguished at the thought of canceling the complex thriller, but he said the growing number of viewers using DVRs to watch programming has put pressure on the network’s business model.

“I would say I’m cautiously optimistic,” Landgraf said. “There are still some things that could derail the renewal of the show. As magnificent as the show is creatively, it has struggled somewhat” in the ratings.

During its first nine weeks, an average audience of 4.66 million viewers tuned in to various airings of “Damages” throughout a week, a figure that grew by 18% when DVR viewings were added in. But not all advertisers have been willing to pay for audiences who watch the show later and, presumably, fast-forward through commercials.

The densely plotted format of the series, Landgraf said, “in some ways doesn’t suit the current environment,” in which sports events and reality shows hold on to the most live viewers.

The FX chief said he fears that as more and more people begin using DVRs, the production of complex serialized programs will decline.

“There are going to be dozens or hundreds of shows that are either not produced or canceled because of the DVR,” he said. “That is a fact of life.”

But the network hasn't ruled out a renewal for “Damages” yet. Creators Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman said they had incorporated some clues about a possible second-season story line into next week’s finale, which they promise will resolve the remaining questions about this season’s murder mystery.

“By the end of the finale, I think it will be quite clear what the direction is for a second season and that there’s a great story to tell,” Zelman said.

While the writers are considering plotting out more than one legal case for Hewes to fight in a sophomore year, allowing for shorter story arcs, they said they remain committed to the show’s complexity.

“The idea is to expect the unexpected,” Todd Kessler said.

The show’s convoluted storytelling has been challenging at times for the actors. Close said she was glad to have one of the writers on set throughout production to help her remember details about her character that were unveiled earlier in the season.

“I very early on realized that this whole process for me was going to be basically, bring it on, because there was no middle or end,” she said. “That was a new kind of proposition, and one that I’ve really grown to thrill in .... It really forces you as an actor to be totally in the moment, to totally trust the writing.”

As for the resolution to this season’s mystery, the writers downplayed the notion that they drastically switched gears midseason as they plotted the ending. Rather, Todd Kessler said, the show’s great actors helped “further inspire us to write into those characters.”

“We had a series of possible endings in our mind, all of which essentially derived from the characters,” Zelman said. “For us, it wasn’t like we shifted.... It was more like, ‘That ending over there feels like it’s the best one.’ ”

-- Matea Gold

(Photo courtesy FX)

Comments () | Archives (15)

I was really getting bored with the pace of the show. One may call the arc intellectually challenging, but for me I was bored.

I disliked Glenn Close's interpersonal relationship problems. I thought at times her character was a bit too hard. I know she is supposed to be driven by work but if the audience is introduced to a husband and son, why not give that more time. At least a little more time!

I was also frustrated with Ellen's character. She seems to be the picture of professionalism but gets caught up in a mess on her first job out of law school. Yes, it may be something super spectacular to work for Patty but it doesn't quite fit for Ellen's professionalism, future hopes and least of all with her ethics. Yes, the job is demanding and challenging to her ethics but at the expense of her relationship with her fiance???

I'm not so sure if this season shouldn't be the last. Sorry about that.

This show is tantalizing! The editing weave of the story is very well done. And what is not to like about GLENN CLOSE and TED DANSON? They are both truly superb in their complex character roles. This is excellent movie style TV that would be shame to lose to some mind numbing dumbed down game show. Tip of the hat to the writers, producers, editors, and of course, the cast, which is pulling off a very interesting "who dunnit" caper!

The best show, the best acting, the best writing ever!

Yes we watch it on DVR. But we promise not to fast-forward commercials if you bring Damages back for a second season. Have I ever lied to you?

Jerry & Lillian Spike

I'd pretty much given up on scripted television (yeah, I admit it, I'm kind of a reality tv addict). I just can't watch any more of the network's all-wrapped-up-in-an-hour, can't-tell-one-episode-(let-alone-one-show)-from-the-next procedural "dramas". Then I discovered Damages on FX and I was hooked from episode one. If this one doesn't make it, I think it will signal the death of scripted tv as far as I'm concerned. Oh Heroes is still kinda fun, but Lost, 24 and Prison Break have all gone a little over the edge...and none of them compare to the quality of Damages.

This is the best show on tv---please,please do not cancel it. it is one of the only show that actually make you think! Give it a chance and let it grow it's audience.

This is the best show on tv---please,please do not cancel it. it is one of the only show that actually make you think! Give it a chance and let it grow it's audience.

Damages is a terrific show even with though it seems there are more commercials and Fox promos than in an NFL game.
I had no idea there was thought of another season. This totally changes my perception of the final episode which I mistakingly thought was the final episode.
As fast as cast members are being killed or blowing their brains out i didn't think there would be enought cast members for a new season.

this show never should have been on fx. it is hbo! how can we save this show? if fx doesn't pick it up can hbo? again, HOW can we the fans get this show picked up for a 2nd season!

This truly is one of the best shows on television. The writing, acting and production are superb. FX should take a page from HBO's evolution and success- ride this to redefine what the network can become.

I was getting a tad frustrated with the pace of the show. It seemed to be falling into the "Lost" trap (which I no longer watch), in posing too many new questions, without really answering old ones. But it was still better than 90% of the crap on network TV.

Last night's episode made up for everything!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring this show back! If anyone is listening to these posts! Bring it back! It was incredible!

Joan -- I agree with you. Damages should have been an HBO or Showtime series. Frankly it's too good for FX and its CEO who is all numbers and nothing but.

But can HBO pick up a show that began on another channel? I don't know. Are there legalities about such things?

In the meantime, a few of us are having a good discussion at the url below. Anyone who would like to join us is welcome. AND, if you remember one show, I don't remember its name, got a reprieve do to a petition.

Is this something to consider?

The URL is not displayed. It is: http://www.thirdeyefilm.com/phpBB2/index.php

WAS HOOKED ON THIS SHOW! I do record it. I suggest FX also puts it out online so that viewer is forced to watch commercials. I watch a number of shows online nd have to sit through the 15 second commercials. Tht's the only time I expose myself to commercials.

Not only do I watch it, I TVo it so that I can watch it again later. This is one of the best shows on TV. Ted Danson is just horrible, I love him.

If everyone who has posted would write to FX and just ask for Damages to be renewed, I bet it would help. The correct email address is John.Langraf@fxnetworks.com


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