What's on the Telly?

Zach Galifianakis as Baskets on FX
Two new television shows are on my radar:
  • Billions (Showtime, Sun, 10 pm EST), a drama -or I should say melodrama- about a billionaire hedge fund tyrant, Bobby Axelrod, and the US attorney, Chuck Rhoades whose goal it is to nail him. Just to twist things up, Chuck's wife, Wendy works as an industrial psycologist for Bobby's firm, Axe Capital. In the opening scene of the pilot, we learn our US attorney has a penchant for a little BDSM (OK I get it: the powerful in real life need a little submission time to help level themselves out), but who was that masked woman? I've watched the first two episodes and can't help sensing a bit of pedantic dialogue and perhaps some emoting going on among the principal actors. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and write it off to early episode-itis. Average (so far)
  • Baskets (FX, Thurs, 10 pm EST)  is the latest comedic vehicle from co-creators Louis CK, Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan Kristel. It stars Galifianakis as an unlikely clown, Chip Baskets. The pilot shows him at the Clown Academie in France where he manages to graduate without understanding a word of French. He soon marries a French national - who cares nothing for him - and moves back home to Bakersfield CA. The show is as hilarious as one would expect from the mind of Louis CK, with Galifianakis prat-falling and dead-panning in clown-face. An especially rip roaring scene features Louie Anderson in drag and speaking in his normal voice as Chip's mom (cut to the spit take). Martha Kelly is spot on as a lonely insurance adjuster who takes a liking to Chip.I'd rate it above average.