'Damages' ends; 'Glee' starts new era

Thursday, 13 September 2012 01:22 PM Written by 


"Damages" came to a close with a whimper last night on DirecTV's Audience Network and a less potent "Glee" returns for its fourth season tonight (9 p.m.) on Fox.

Read more about both series ("Damages" spoilers included) after the jump. ...

Let's start with "Glee," which, though a shadow of its former buzzy self, is at least still on viewers' pop culture radar. ("Damages," on the other hand, pretty much disappeared when it moved from FX to DirecTV.)

"Glee" moves to a new night with its fourth season premiere, "The New Rachel," which works as a title in two ways. Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is now in NYC at NYADA where she encounters a mean-spirited dance instructor (Kate Hudson). And back at McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, the remaining New Directions singers audition to be the new Rachel, the lead and star of the glee club.

It's a busy hour of "Glee" that has to re-establish returning character while introducing a whole new batch of characters both in New York and Ohio. Consequently, some returning characters don't appear at all, including Finn, Mercedes, Santana, Mike Chang and Quinn. (For those who notice Quinn is not in the cast photo, a publicist says she'll be back, actress Diana Agron was out of the country during the photo shoot.)

In between all the set-ups, there's time for a few small moments, including Kurt bidding a bittersweet farewell to his father. It's too early to say if "Glee" will be able to pull off it's new, all-over-the-place existence that gives the characters enough attention in any meaningful way. A cast photo of 18 -- not including everyone in the cast -- certainly gives reason for concern. But I'm still sticking with the show -- for now.

DIRECTV_Dam_000693_High_v1"Damages," on the other hand, is done. The only reason I can think that I stuck with this one is because of the fantastic performances. No actress does intimidation better than Glenn Close and Rose Byrne more than held her own opposite Close.

In truth, I enjoyed the two seasons of "Damages" that aired on DirecTV more than the first three seasons on FX. Season four, in particular, seemed more grounded and rooted in reality.

This just-ended fifth season was more reminiscent of the earlier, more gothic soap early years as the show teased viewers with its flash forwards, designed to make viewers think one thing when they actually depict another. It was effective but manipulative, too.

Over the course of the series Ellen Parsons (Byrne), protege of Patty Hewes (Close), became more like her corrupt mentor. In the end, Ellen was sorta-kinda responsible for the murder of Patty's son (Zachary Booth). Consequently, Ellen did not go to authorities with proof that Patty had tried to have her killed at the end of season one.

Ellen left the practice of law to become a mother; Patty stayed and, in a flash forward, looked more like Cruella DeVil than Close has looked since "101 Dalmatians."

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