Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


-- television -- damages: rip, ray fiske

So when the FX series "Damages" started, I kind of sort of enjoyed it. Heavily serial, jumping back and forth in time, the occasional really obvious clue surrounded by all sorts of obscure clues, it was sort of fun. After a while, though, I started getting irritated with it and paying less attention. This was for two reasons, at the time. (1) I agree with whatever reviewer it was who said that as the show really got moving, they kind of forgot to give Glenn Close anything to do but lurk sinisterly in the background. (Is "sinisterly" a word?) And then (2) they made what I think of as the "Lost" mistake; they kept winding the serial elements -- and winding them really hard, given that they had only 13 weeks and a known endpoint -- without giving a lot of payoff. Or when a question did get answered, it would lead directly into a more confusing question. And, seriously, sometimes I just want a question to be answered, to sit as a pointer for whatever else is going on, and to just be done.

But what really started getting me recently was how they were handling Ray Fiske, Frobisher's lawyer. It started to become obvious at one point that he was probably maybe really gay, and attracted to Gregory Molina, recent corpsicle and one-time waiter and witness, and that was fine. Let's face it; we're all massively attracted to a person at one time or another in a situation where, for whatever reason, we do nothing about it. It may be perfectly obvious, it may be a little pathetic, depending, but it happens to everyone. Not, in and of itself, particularly objectionable. But then it became more and more obvious that he had done something -- something quite criminal, as it turns out -- and he had made himself known, and he had been turned down, and then he wound up married and and and ... so by the end of things, he was pathetic and sort of weakly predatory and closeted and, oh yes, married with a wife who apparently didn't know. Really nice woman, it seems, too. And, you know, I get that they wanted to weigh him down with everything in his life. They needed him to despair enough to end up where he did. But you know, frankly, they could have easily stopped at "guy who did something for lust that he really shouldn't have." He didn't need to be married, he didn't need to be closeted. The romantic rejection paired with the really serious professional compromise would have been enough.

Sad thing is, I kind of liked the way Zeljko Ivanec was playing Fiske. He really worked as a character who was trying very hard to thread a very difficult ethical situation, and that situation was clearly eating him alive. It worked even before we knew for certain that he'd been rejected by Gregory, or what he'd done to try to win his love. (And, frankly, that gift? Makes Fiske out to be terribly stupid, not because it constituted the worst kind of insider trading -- both in the gift and its later sale -- but because he compromised himself for nothing. By that I don't mean that Gregory should have said, "Hey, stock worth thousands! Now I'll put out!" I mean that he gave a major gift to someone he really didn't know that well, even took him on a vaguely romantic getaway, in the hope that it would make him put out. That's seriously stupid, and seriously pathetic. And, of course, on said vaguely romantic getaway, Gregory went and boinked Katie. Had to make Fiske really swell, that.)

Eh. I'll probably take next week off, and then come back for the finale. I do want to know who done what and why; I'm just kind of tired of the trip.

Here, a little somthing to cheer everyone up: Stayin' Alive (... OK, perhaps "cheer" isn't quite the right verb in this case.)

Posted by iain at 01:56 PM in category television