Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis star in a complex drama about power politics in the world of New York high finance. Shrewd, savvy U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Giamatti) and the brilliant, ambitious hedge fund king Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Lewis) are on an explosive collision course, with each using all of his considerable smarts, power and influence to outmaneuver the other. The stakes are in the billions in this timely, provocative series.
Showtime really has an excellent show on their hands with 'Billions', which is slated for a second season in early 2017. The first season has a stellar cast with amazing performances and characters, as well as a top notch story that keeps you on the edge of your seat after each episode. It is no doubt one of the better new shows on television right now. Brian Koppelman and David Levien are the powers behind 'Billions', and are the writing team behind 'Ocean's 13' and 'Rounders'. They had help from journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin (no relation) in creating this show that pits a high powered lawyer who is investigating a super wealthy hedge fund manager.
This hedge fun manager is named Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis), who more than remembers the events of 9-11, which has made him a somewhat friendlier and more charitable person. That being said, is very successful hedge fun and personal finances aren't exactly up to legal code, which is where the big time attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) comes in. Rhoades has never lost a case in his career, but when he starts to investigate Axelrod, his perfect career might have that one blemish, because Axelrod isn't the stereotypical one percenter jerk.
In fact, Axelrod has many layers to him, which gives 'Billions' a ton of credibility in not showing a stereotype of Wall-Street for the billionth time. Axelrod lives rather modestly with his family for how much money he has and is super charitable and decent amongst others less fortunate than him. Meanwhile, Rhoades isn't exactly the most chipper or nicest person either, giving this show a ton of depth. To make matters more interesting here, Rhoades' wife Wendy (Maggie Siff) works at the Axelrod hedge fund and is caught in the middle of this suspenseful situation.
What 'Billions' does very well is work these characters against each other, while not labeling who exactly is the good or bad guy here, which we don't see very often. Giamatti and Lewis are both excellent in their roles, both of who play deep characters who always struggle to mostly do right, but in the end, always want to be number one and win. Siff is excellent too, as she juggles both sides of her life during this investigation, and is always suspenseful to watch. Malin Akerman and Jerry O'Connell show up from time to time as well, and are spot on. 'Billions' is one of those shows, you're going to want to add to your list, because it is highly entertaining, thrilling, and full of excellent performances.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Billions' Season One comes with four 50GB Blu-ray Discs from Showtime Entertainment and are Region A Locked. The bonus features are spread across all four discs. There is an insert for promos for Showtime as well. The backside of the cover art lists all episodes, extras, and the synopsis for each episode. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case. There is no cardboard sleeve.
'Billions: Season One' comes with an excellent 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This digitally shot series look incredible with the detail just popping off screen in both wide shots and closeups. The very expensive suits that the main characters wear show the intimate stitching and craftwork that went into each of these tailor made suits with every crease, stitch, and line showing up nicely. Textures in the ties and other wardrobe are equally impressive. Wider shots show off the large estates and office areas with great detail, giving the show some great visual depth.
Individual hairs on Giamatti's face are seen easily as well as wrinkles and makeup blemishes on every character. Colors are bright and bold and simply pop off screen at every moment, giving a very realistic and striking look to the show. Black levels are deep and inky throughout and the flesh tones are natural. There were no instances of any banding, aliasing, or any other video noise that I noticed, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
This release comes with a good Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for what it is. This is mostly a front heavy track with tons of dialogue, but it all sounds excellent. There are some sound effects and big city life ambient noises from time to time that come from the rear speakers, but in all, most of the sound will come from the front end of things. The music of the show always adds to the suspense or dark humor of the show without drowning out any other sound element here.
I wouldn't say this is a fully immersive track, but it gets the job done just right for the type of show it is. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills here. The bass does kick in, but rarely, making this a good audio presentation.
Street Slang (HD, 3 Mins.) - This extra details all of the different and relatable dialogue and vocabulary to the law and finance worlds, so you can understand what certain words mean.
Character Profiles (HD, 8 Mins.) - The four main characters are given brief discussions about their character arc and traits.
Location: New York (HD, 7 Mins.) - Here, the city of New York and the locations and food are all talked about here and how they fit into the show.
Character Development (HD, 11 Mins.) - The four main characters are discussed here again with the main story arcs coming to focus between everyone.
Shadows and Light (HD, 8 Mins.) - This focuses on the ambitions and actions of each character and how sinister or good willed the intentions are of each character.
'Billion's is one of my new favorite shows. The story arcs and characters are so well defined and thrilling that I can't wait for the second season. Every character has different layers than what you would expect them to and the dialogue is fantastic in each episode. It's easy to get addicted to this show and you'll see why in the first five minutes of the show. The video and audio presentations are both top notch here and the extras are all decent, but not great. Still, this is one show you're going to want to have in your collection from Showtime. Highly recommended!