11 April 2016 | urthpainter
Astonishing first season arc
Billions: how to make great TV on a strait forward premise.
Good guy vs bad guy, leading ladies, surrounding characters, friends, co-workers and family - all fit neatly into how to best tell an important story.
The only progressive qualities would be the timely look at the ultra rich, and private lives of the most important characters. Obviously not small characteristics! Good guy: A federal DA with a perfect prosecution record goes after the biggest fish in the waters, Bobby Axelrod. Bad guy: Axelrod, self made billionaire is the face of a hedge fund that clears too much money to be legit. The window into private lives makes the characters believable, live and breath, and often is the best part of a completely immersive viewing experience. The private lives are intelligently juxtaposed from expectation, which adds real texture to the three main characters - who fluctuate in a triangle of love, respect and various degrees of trust. While the third main character is no secret, watching her character develop brings a beautiful counterbalance to the instability of the leading men.
Big budget media is only as good as writing and characters, and both are excellent. The dialog is smart, believable, and well delivered - not only by the stars (from whom one expects greatness), but everyone! This means good direction, preproduction, and rehearsal. The chemistry between characters is real. There is never a feeling of uncertainty, wasted moments with useless characters, or scenes utilized just to move the story forward. There is always more than one thing going on at a time bringing a web of collected ideas together. This includes illusive foreshadowing that only hits on the big reveals, that somehow stay unpredictable.
Production is absolutely invisible. This is a good thing. The producers know what is important, and all the technical details (while first rate) serve the greater good without frills.
Please look elsewhere for a full synopsis, however I will usher fans of office drama like LA law, The Practice, and the contemporary Suits strait to Billions. While not without humor, Billions is dead serious and builds office tension with the best of them. What it adds is the deep look into the private lives of the characters, and how this tangle of realms effects every choice the characters make. But this is no slice of life, the writing is too spare, circumstances too clean, and stories too well conceived. Right now, this is as good as it gets, and though some people may like it more than others - if you love TV, watch this first season.
Exceeding all expectation - 9/10