Exclusive: 'Damages' execs on moving to DirecTV and the Patty/Ellen twist that kicks off season 4

damagesImage Credit: Craig Blankenhorne/FXNow that the initial burst of excitement surrounding DirecTV’s two-season pickup of Damages is fading, it’s time to take a closer look at the deal’s fine print: Will the ex-FX drama have to alter its unique formula in an effort to pull in more viewers? Will the show’s producers be forced to make do with a smaller budget? And what’s next for Patty (Glenn Close) and Ellen (Rose Byrne)? Damages EPs Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman tackled those three questions and about four or five others.

Will the FX version of Damages differ from DirecTV’s version?
Daniel Zelman:
Basically, the answer is no. DirecTV wants us to do the show that we’ve been doing. If anything, they want us to push what we’ve been doing even further. They’re encouraging us to be as bold as possible, which is something we strive for anyway. There have been no discussions about altering the show in any fundamental way.
Todd A. Kessler: What’s exciting for us as creators is that on the 101 Network there are no commercials, so it’ll be an uninterrupted hour. And that lends itself to the type of storytelling we do.

Will the show’s budget be cut?
The budget has basically been kept the same, which we’re very grateful for in this climate.  Our show has a very affluent audience and is one of the most Tivo’d shows on cable, and that sits very well with DirecTV’s consumer base.

The season 3 finale easily could have worked as a series finale. Did you write it that way because the specter of cancellation was hanging over your heads?
We want to bring every season to a satisfying conclusion. As you know, we have a different case every season and we have different guest actors every season. So we always want to bring every season to an endpoint so that there’s a sense that you sat through a complete experience. Had we known the series was definitely coming back, or if we thought the series was not coming back,  the third season would not have ended much differently—if differently at all. The scene with [Patty and Ellen] on the dock was something we would have wanted to do regardless.

What can you tell me about season 4?
Patty and Ellen will be in a new phase of their relationship, one that we haven’t seen before.

Who’s returning aside from Glenn and Rose?
Right now it really is just Glenn and Rose. But if you know our show, we’re very creative about who we bring back. Zeljko Ivanek died the first season and yet he’s been back every season since. Tate Donovan’s character died at the end of last season, but we certainly wouldn’t rule out him coming back in some form. Anyone in our show can make an appearance. We would love to have Frobisher back in some form.

As a fan of the show, I never understood how Ellen could get past the fact that Patty tried to kill her.
That remains out there as an issue between the two of them. One of the questions of the whole series is, Will Ellen ever really get past that? And will that resurface to cause Ellen to take extreme action against Patty at some point? A huge part of Ellen’s arc in the second season and continuing into the third was her own personal need to forgive and let go. And in a weird way, when you forgive someone for doing something that extreme, you end up having power over them. That being said, there’s always an element to our show that’s heightened and hyper-realistic. We don’t look at that relationship and Ellen’s choice to forgive Patty as something that would happen in real life. We see something mythic in their relationship. But the real answer to that question is we’ll see if Ellen really ends up being okay with that.

When do you start production?
It’s scheduled for January.

Are you looking at season 5 as the last?
We have an idea in our head of the evolution of Ellen and Patty that takes us through five seasons. And really that’s all we’re focused on right now. There’s time to work that out and consider where it might go in a [possible] sixth.

Comments (57 total) Add your comment
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  • PityPie

    One of the best TV shows on the air… excited for the next two seasons!

    • ythu

      Correction, True Blood is the best show on TV

      • Adam

        True Blood is far from being the best show on TV. It’s only gotten as far as it has because it’s on HBO, and a lot of people automatically assume anything on HBO is “the best.” True Blood is fine, but it’s not the best show TV has to offer.

      • Wilson

        lol first off, they said ONE of the best shows on TV.
        I bet you’ve never even season Damages lol
        If you had, you’d definitely drop that claim about True Blood.

      • Wilson

        *not season: seen
        lol long day

  • Janey

    Love this show and how it is SO good and boasts such strong women. Amazing.

  • KEVinAZ

    I love this show. DirecTV is fantastic.. what other TV provider actually gives you you shows like Friday Night Lights & Damages and all the football you can watch :)

  • jay

    Thank God. I’m still so happy this show is gonna be back. 5 seasons. Who woulda thought.

  • Viv

    I love this talk of the Damages demographic. I’m broke and under thirty, bringing down the demo, sorry guys.

    • Sharon

      lol me too, I bring down the demos of lots of critically acclaimed shows.

  • Bobbi

    I’d like to know why DirectTV decided not to broadcast these as they did Friday Night Lights. Will the 4th and 5th seasons be available on DVD as soon as the season ends? If they wait too long, they run the risk of losing the audience that doesn’t have DirecTV. Of course, the risk also exists that we will hear so much about the new seasons from EW and other entities that there won’t be the hunger for the new seasons for people that have to wait.

    • kim in kentucky

      Agree! By the time it does come out on dvd, I think a lot of us will no longer be interested or will be tired of trying to avoid reading about it.

      • ythu

        Agreed, even the end of the first season of Caprica might have aired before Damages comes out on DVD (but I would not bet on it)

    • Cindy S.

      I’m one of those folks without DirectTV, and have no plans to sign up in the near future, so I guess I’ll have to consider the season 3 finale as a series finale :)

      • jim

        Me too. Too bad HBO or one of the other cable giants didn’t pick it up. There would have been a wider viewership.

  • Captain Average

    Michael, Michael, Michael… Whatever are we going to do with you?

    It’s ‘will they have to make do’ – not “make due.” [And you call yourself a writer!]

    Seriously, dude, if you weren’t giving us all these cool scoops, I’d have to write a letter to yout mother!

  • Patricia

    I am so happy Damages is still alive, but I Comcast in Fl. and Time Warner in Maine. How will I ever follow the show?? HELP

    • Molly

      You can watch almost any show on the internet about 2-12 hours after it airs on tv. I usually use sidereel.com ,letmewatchthis.com, blinkx.com. They provide links where you can find the show you’re looking for. Try to find a “megavideo” or “divx player” link. They are the best. You may have to download the divx player. Just make sure you go to the official site to do so. Hope this helps.

  • Linda

    I’m so happy to see this series return. Very excited at the prospects and storylines moving forward for the show.

  • Tania

    While I’m ecstatic that Damages is back, I still feel like I’ve been hosed. This deal is bittersweet. I wonder if the EP’s are aware of how many of the devoted viewers from FX are feeling? It’s a shame that the question wasn’t put forth. The DVD’s will probably be out by the end of 2011 or 2012. Oh goody.

    • B-

      Buy it on iTunes or subcribe to Hulu Plus to watch it.

      • Tiffani

        damages is not available on hulu plus i just checked

  • Buddy

    I love Ausiello but this was a total mislead. And mean. There is absolutely no info about a season launching twist in their relationship. Just that it will be “different,” which anyone who ever watched the show would know.

  • graeme

    Hmmmm, I dunno how I feel about bringing Frobisher back again. He wasn’t well used in season 2, and his season 3 appearance was fun and ended in a very completed way. Don’t need him back again. They have worn out his welcome.

    • mick

      I agree. I was sick of Frobisher by the first episode of season two. I wish to god he would GO AWAY. He’s a broken record at this point and, while I like what Ted Danson brought to the character, I fast-forwarded through all of his scene when I re-watched season three.

    • Jed

      I don’t remember him dying?

      • Emily

        He didn’t die. If memory serves correctly, he was thrown in jail..

  • mick

    FANTASTIC SHOW! I really loved the way Patty and Ellen’s unique relationship evolved in season three. The connection between the two women is very powerful and addictive to behold. By the third season, they’re sensing when the other is having an odd thought and picking up on similar subtle signals that other characters (like Tom) are completely oblivious to. I hope KZK doesn’t take the two women into territory where they’re at one another’s throats. A little conflict is healthy and fascinating, but I’d hate to see them become enemies. Season 2 was a drag to watch because of Ellen’s non-stop vengeance trip. I’d rather see Ellen come to the aid of a suddenly defeated (or nearly defeated) Patty. Patty would have to depend on her in a way that makes the older woman uncomfortably vulnerable and their bond will eventually become even stronger than it already is. That would be so cool.

    • Alicia

      Completely agree, Mick with your analysis and vision for the next phase of Patty and Ellen’s ever-changing dynamics. Well stated.

      This pair of strong female characters with a seriously twisted relationship is what really propels the show and it’s fans, in my opinion.

      Looking forward to creatively finding a way to watch Seasons 4 and 5 without subscribing to DirectTV.

  • Zo

    Please please please, let seasons 4 and 5 be released on DVD eventually!

    DirecTV is my hero!

  • monomatica

    I love this show, too, and am so glad it was saved. But how can you watch it if you don’t have DirectTV? Will they be playing episodes on FX.com or will they be on iTunes?

    • Molly

      I posted under Patricia’s Comment(7/36/10), some ways to still watch the show without DirectTV. I agree – this is one of my favorite shows!

      • Molly

        woops I mean 7/26/10

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