|Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler in Bloodline.|
A number of years back, I had people consistently recommending that I watch Damages (2007-2012), a television procedural thriller about a ruthless high-powered attorney (Glenn Close) and her young protégée (Rose Byrne) that she was both tutoring and perhaps trying to murder. After all that praise, I couldn't wait to catch up with it. When I finally did, though, I couldn't believe how ridiculous it was. With barely a shred of dramatic believability, Damages kept the audience in total suspense by withholding plot points, using flashforwards and flashbacks while offering up one outrageous red herring after another. Damages wasn't neo-noir. It was inadvertent high camp. Watching Glenn Close grandstanding in the manner of Joan Crawford in her gargoyle roles, and glaring into the camera in an endless series of frozen close-ups, became a hilarious parody of malevolent evil. Created by brothers Glenn and Todd A. Kessler, Damages streamlined a dramatic formula that had already been successful for a number of other hit shows that liked to define themselves as 'dark' by employing what a friend of mine cleverly calls "cozy cynicism."