I’m a little hesitant to get too excited about TV shows too early in their run, because a lot of times they run out of steam pretty quickly (see, “Homeland,” “New Girl,” and “Nurse Jackie,” just to name a few).
But I had extremely high hopes for the new “Billions” show on Showtime that premiered two weeks ago, simply because of the two leads: Damian Lewis, so fantastic as Brody on “Homeland,” and Paul Giamatti, who’s been awesome in every movie I’ve ever seen him in, from “Cinderella Man,” to “Sideways” to “Private Parts.”
After two episodes, my verdict is this: Watch. This. Show. It’s damn good.
The plot is this: Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) is the U.S attorney in Manhattan who prosecutes white-collar Wall Street crimes by day, and enjoys a little S&M with his wife at night (so far just one scene of that, but … man.) Bobby Axelrod (Lewis) is a billionaire hedge fund manager who rose up from nothing to become one of the richest men in the world. He’s smug, he’s arrogant, he’s charming, and Lewis plays him with just the right amount of likability.
Right away it’s established that Chuck is going to try to take down Axelrod, by any means necessary, and score his biggest criminal conviction yet. One possible complication? Chuck’s wife is Axelrod’s closest confidant, a sort-of “life coach meets problem-solver) for Axelrod’s firm.
The show is smartly written, really well acted by everyone (David Costabile, a great “That Guy” who played Gale on “Breaking Bad,” is also great as Axelrod’s consigliere at the firm) and has a lot of room to grow. I was fully hooked at the end of last week’s second episode, when Axelrod tells a great story about why he’s so determined to buy naming rights to an old NYC building from a family that’s owned it for decades.
I don’t know if “Billions” is going to stay this good, but we’re hooked. Sunday nights at 10 on Showtime.
Brody, it’s like we hardly knew ye. Watch the trailer below.
**Next up, I meant to put this in the blog on Monday but it was running long already and I figured it’d still be funny two days later
And it is. Tina Fey, who really should win an Emmy or a Nobel Prize or something for playing Sarah Palin all these years, was back at it last week on “Saturday Night Live” since the former Governor of Alaska was in the news for endorsing The Donald. (By the way, a scary but pretty fantastic analysis of why Trump is likely to be the nominee was written by Josh Marshall of TPM on Tuesday; I still don’t think Trump will be the nominee in the end, but Marshall makes some excellent points, the best being: All these GOP leaders think they can mold him into whatever they want, since he has no principles of his own.)
From the opening line of the skit, Fey has me in hysterics. Enjoy.
**Finally today, I love stories about robots and machines taking over the world, and this is one I hadn’t heard before.
At the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City last week, a mind-blowing product was revealed: A grocery store freezer case that can help you decide what you want to buy by reading your facial expression through cameras installed on top of it. It makes suggestions and shares ingredients and product information by using the glass door in front as a screen.
There’s a camera on it that gives data on your facial expressions back to the companies whose products are inside, it analyzes who walks by by their gender and feeds real-time stats back to companies.
I, of course, have lots of questions: First, will people feel shame reaching for the Tombstone pizzas they know they shouldn’t eat, if a camera is watching? If enough people make sad faces at the brussels sprouts, will we finally be rid of them?
And most importantly, isn’t this just a little too creepy, even for 2016? I know we’re being watched everywhere, but a man (or woman) should be able to pig out and not have anyone notice.
Except, you know, the cashier in aisle 7, who’s totally judging you.