'Damages' Rescued by DirecTV, for Better or Worse

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Damages, the recently canceled FX drama starring Glenn Close, has been rescued at the last minute by DirecTV. The satellite provider will produce two more seasons of the Emmy-award winning series for its original programming channel, The 101. In 2008, DirecTV struck a similar deal with the acclaimed drama Friday Night Lights. The company shared the production costs with NBC for the series' fourth and fifth seasons, which are airing first on The 101 and then in a second run on NBC. Damages, however, will only air on The 101, and therefore will only be available (prior to DVD release, anyway) to DirecTV subscribers.

FNL averaged 6.1 million viewers on NBC before beginning its network sharing deal with DirecTV. Its debut on The 101 garnered only 400,000 viewers; its second run premiere on NBC mustered only 3 million. Since Damages barely managed one million viewers an episode on FX, its prognosis for ratings success on DirecTV is pretty dismal, especially since it won't have the added benefit of a second run. Given the caliber of its cast and production team—all of whom should have no problem getting other gigs, on TV or elsewhere—Remote Patrolled wonders whether this 11th hour rescue is worth it:

You see while I'm pleased that the show is returning it does concern me that it's coming back to a network that's available in less than 20 million homes. Sure HBO and Showtime also have limited subscribers but those two networks also spend a fortune promoting their shows and have built a reputation as homes of quality drama. They are destination viewing platforms. And DirecTV just isn't at that stage—yet!

My worry for the show's return is that it's going to get lost in the pack. Let's face it, despite the DirecTV deal, Friday Night Lights still hasn't gone on to become a hit. And though it's been reported that the show's stars Glenn Close and Rose Byrne won't be taking pay cuts for the 4th and 5th seasons, the fact is that the network still likely won't be paying the same fees as when the show aired on FX. Which means we shouldn't go expecting guest stars on the level of Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, Marcia Gay Harden and Ted Danson, all of whom absolutely electrified the series during its three season run.

Read the full story at Remote Patrolled.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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