Tonight Showtime launches a brand new angry-men-behaving-badly series called BILLIONS, and they are hoping for it to really resonate with viewers who want a private look into the luxurious lives of the New York rich. Damian Lewis stars as billionaire hedgefund owner Bobby Axelrod who is determined to keep his nose clean even when his actions are not quite above board. In the pilot he is shown getting away with almost anything thanks to his fast talking, no bullshit attitude, but he has one major foe watching his steps who relishes in nothing more than making an example out of the Axelrod in front of all the other corrupt Wall Street giants. Paul Giamatti shares billing with Lewis as U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades who will stop at nothing to shut Axelrod down.
The first episode introduces the season-long cat and mouse game the two heavy weights will play, and while it stumbles this introduction is quite appealing for viewers who like opulence and bitterness. Giamatti and Lewis take former journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin’s original idea and imbue their characters with the perfect mixture of career ambition and personal blindness. As each minute ticks along, the rivals keep one-upping the other leading to an explosive final scene that made me wish for a binge-able second episode.
The tone is dark and dangerous, which contributes to the overwhelming feeling of doom both of these two princes of their world experience. They are racing against time, Rhoades trying to pin Axelrod for money crimes and Axelrod trying to evade detection. Neither plays well in the other’s sandbox and that is what makes the opening episode so delightful. Pairing them off separately with strong wives, played by Malin Akerman (Lara Axelrod) and Maggie Siff (Wendy Rhoades), who have their own twisty agendas rounds out a powerful ensemble worthy of you Sunday night.
BILLIONS premieres tonight on Showtime 10pm ET/9pm CT. The first episode is available for free below: