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TV THIS WEEK | THE BIG THING

Litigation sensation

July 22, 2007|Mary McNamara

MOVE over, Meryl. For a minute we all thought you were the perfect evil boss in "The Devil Wears Prada," but now we know we were wrong. In FX's new drama "Damages," Glenn Close takes such adjectives as "ruthless," "ambitious" and "obsessive" to Shakespearean heights. And she does it all looking like socialite Slim Keith or Lauren Bacall.

Of course, it helps a bit that she's playing a lawyer.

As Patty Hewes, the quintessential high-stakes litigator, Close is all sunny smiles and deadly silences, punctuated with the occasional lioness roar. She is as single-minded in her legal pursuit of Chief Executive Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), who bilked his employees of their pensions, as she is in her maternal seduction of her new associate, Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). Ellen may, coincidentally, provide the key to the case against Frobisher. (She will certainly wind up half-naked and covered in blood, but more on that later this week, in the review proper.)

Not that Patty is one-dimensional, or even necessarily "bad," at least in dramatic terms. There are no angels in "Damages," which twists the many sides of truth and motivation, not to mention desire, like squares on a Rubik's Cube. With a wide-eyed, almost gentle refusal to cede the least bit of control, Close makes Patty frightening precisely because of her humanity: If she is evil, how on Earth did she get that way? And if she's not, what is wrong with a world that demands such actions from its heroes?

We will be watching breathlessly each week to find out.

(FX, Tues., 10 p.m.)

-- Mary McNamara

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