Big Love: The Complete Third Season
Reviewed by Frank J.
What began as a bit of a head-scratching
novelty show two seasons ago has turned into one of the
most engrossing, well-acted and densely fascinating dramas
on television. And, of course, it’s HBO!
Season Three of Big Love does
not disappoint. It actually catapults the series into
the HBO pantheon where The Sopranos, Six
Feet Under and True Blood reign supreme.
Those unfamiliar with the show could
easily get hooked by watching this mesmerizing season.
Mormon Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton)
is a polygamist married to three wives: matriarch Barb
(the always fantastic Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicolette (the
brilliantly irritating Chloë Sevigny) and Margene
(the hilarious Ginnifer Goodwin) but he’s on the
prowl for a fourth, Ana (a feisty Branka Katic).
Bill is looking to also branch out business-wise.
He’s partnered with a Native American group to get
a casino off the ground.
Bill and his family live “The
Principle,” which means the more family you have
on Earth, the more you honor God. And you will all be
reunited in heaven.
Bill is a native of the Juniper Creek
compound where the “prophet,” Roman Grant
(nasty and mean Harry Dean Stanton) --who also happens
to be Bill’s father in law--ruled until he was arrested
on various counts. Roman’s closeted gay son, Alby
(a creepily splendid Matt Ross) has taken over while his
father is behind bars.
So much of the first few episodes are
devoted to secrets—being kept and revealed. Nicolette,
and her machinations, is the focal point of a lot of these
secrets as she works to free her father by taking a job
in the DA’s office—only to fall for the DA.
As the deceptions, threats and betrayals
mount, the series grips you and never lets go. Midway
through, “The Trial” sets the stage for so
many delicious surprises to come.
In Episode 6, "Come, Ye Saints,"
Bill realizes just how far astray his family has gone.
And in Episode 8, “Rough Edges,” Nicolette
finally gets her comeuppance. It’s a moment viewers
have been waiting for but the genius of the show is that
by the end of the season, once another secret is revealed,
we actually feel sorry for Nicolette.
So much good work is done by the Big
Love ensemble. Worth noting are many of the fabulous
female actors, in particular: Grace Zabriskie, Ellen Burstyn,
Melora Walters, Mary Kay Place, Daveigh Chase and Mireille
All the leads are wonderful. Golden
Globe winner Chloë Sevigny does extraordinary work
showing us a woman who is feeling love for the very first
time—and it’s not for her husband. The scene
in Episode 9 where Nicolette and Alby discuss different
ways they could kill their parents is an instant classic
Big Love manages to take the
subject of polygamy and, instead of condemning it and/or
making fun of it, actually shows all sides of the hot
button issue. These are deeply religious people who feel
they are doing the work of Heavenly Father. The writers,
Mark V. Olsen and Will Sheffer, do an impressive job of
keeping things interesting—even when what is being
presented onscreen is difficult to swallow.
The anamorphic transfer looks just like
the show does on HBO High-Def with strong colors. The
5.1 sound mix is clear and crisp.
The most disappointing thing about the
package is the paltry Extras. We get four VERY short promos
called: “Their Stories So Far,” which are
simply recaps. “Three Past Midnight” are three
scenes that depict how three sets of characters react
to the compound raid. And that’s really it. No “Making-Of”
documentary, no deleted scenes. Nada!
Regardless, Big Love: The Complete Third Season
is an exciting and extremely fulfilling continuation of
a story I definitely want to see more of. On to Season
Review by Frank
Glenn Close justly won her second consecutive
Emmy for Season Two of Damages. She has never
been this good in anything and I have seen her onstage,
most of her films and her other TV work. Here, she’s
fortunate enough to be involved in a series, created by
Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman, that
is smart, dense, riveting and as suspenseful as they come.
But what she brings to the seemingly overconfident yet
terrifically enigmatic Patty Hewes is nothing short of
astonishing. She allows the viewers to peel away at the
character’s layers until we are flabbergasted by
what is revealed.
Of course, the show’s direction,
writing, ensemble acting and captivatingly non-linear
format must be praised as well. And while Season One laid
some terrific groundwork, Season Two raises the stakes.
Rattled by the battle scars of Season
One which included the suicide of Ray Fisk and placing
a hit on Ellen Parsons, Patty Hewes (who, frankly and
frighteningly, I would like to be when I grow up) is reunited
with a man from her past, Daniel Parcell (William Hurt)
and takes on his case which involves a big energy corporation
doing no good. Taking on a corrupt corporate giant is
right up Patty’s alley but Parcell and Patty share
a deeper secret.
Meanwhile, Ellen is now working with
the FBI to try and get the goods on Patty when she meets
Wes (sexy and mysterious Timothy Olyphant) a man who seemingly
wants to help her over her neuroses but, of course, has
his own ulterior motives.
Besides the marvelous Close, Hurt does
some fantastic work and Marcia Gay Harden is refreshingly
sassy and a bit loony as the attorney for the energy corporation
Patty is trying to take down.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Damages in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The
transfer is sharp and the graininess enhances the viewing
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds
just right—especially since the show tends to mostly
be driven by dialogue.
There are some wonderful Special Features
included a slew of Deleted Scenes on each corresponding
disc. It’s fun to watch an episode and then tune
in to these moments that really do add to the enjoyment
of the show.
Also featured are four audio commentaries
by the creators and Close, Rose Byrne, Ted Danson and
Tate Donovan respectively.
In addition, there are 17 minutes of
“Character Profiles” which include brief interviews
with the cast as well as a “Season 2: Post-Mortem”
which is basically a wrap up.
Damages continues to
be one of the best dramas on television and this package
is a must for fans.