When it comes to exciting TV work, Damian Lewis has been at the forefront of it. From Homeland to Wolfhall, he's been involved in some of the best TV shows to grace our screens over the past five years.
His latest show, Billions, is no exception. Lewis plays Bobby 'Axe' Axelrod, a billionaire investment banker that comes under investigation for insider trading from the US District Attorney, Chuck Rhodes (Paul Giamatti).
What starts out as gentle posturing from afar evolves into an exciting cat and mouse game between the two made even more complicated by the fact that Chuck's wife Wendy (Maggie Siff) works for Axe. The first season of the show is a thrilling ride and easily earns its title as the new 'must watch' show for 2016. Here's seven reasons why...
1. The leading men
Arguably two of the best actors working today in any medium, Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti anchor the show with their performances as the charismatic billionaire and the righteous district attorney obsessed with bringing him down. The presence that both actors bring to their respective roles elevates the already brilliant material and there are fireworks whenever the two come face to face on screen.
2. The characters are layered
There's a clear line drawn from the beginning about who the 'good' guy and 'bad' guy should be. However the 'good' guy is often an asshole to those around him, is power hungry and has a fragile ego that often needs massaging. We know that the 'bad' guy is making illegal trades and shady deals but he comes across as a nice person, a fun dad and a loyal husband. Throughout the course of the first season we see many different sides to both the central characters and those around them. Which brings us to...
3. The female characters are just as interesting and complex as the men
Maggie Siff and Malin Akerman play Wendy Rhodes and Lara Axelrod respectively. Both characters could easily have been written as supporting partners for the leading men whose storylines rarely amount to more than trivial subplots. Instead they have their own journeys which are almost as compelling and often play key roles in the central plot making the drama even more intriguing.
4. David Costabile
Suits fans will know Costabile as the devious Daniel Hardman. Here he plays Mike 'Wags' Wagner, Bobby Axelrod's right hand man. Wags provides a lot of comic relief throughout the series as he advises his boss but also reveals glimpses of a much darker side which is highlighted during his therapy sessions with Wendy Rhodes.
5. The monologues
Paul Giamatti often gets the lions share of the meaty monologues as he rallies his troops throughout their investigation of Axe Capital but there's plenty for Damian Lewis to work with too. In a lesser show, these monologues would lead the show in to melodrama territory but the quality of the writing never lets it stray that far.
6. The supporting cast
The four lead actors all bring their A game but they're propped up with some great performances from the supporting cast which includes Toby Leonard Moore as Chuck's no.2 Bryan Connerty, Condola Rashad as Kate Sacher, a brilliant and ambitious member of Chuck's team and Kelly AuCoin as 'Dollar' Bill Stearn, one of Axe's most successful (and shady) traders.
7. The soundtrack
There are so many great musical moments throughout the first season (including a cameo from Metallica) that elevate the show to another level with songs from Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, Van Halen, Pixies and last but certainly not least, Chumbawamba...