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Drama and Intrigue in the World of Finance with 'Devils'
October 7, 2020  | By David Hinckley

If you find yourself missing Billions, The CW may be able to help you out.

Just don't set your expectations too high.

In the absence of new domestic programming, The CW has snagged an Italian series titled Devils, which premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Devils is a financial thriller/mystery/crime story/soap opera, not at all unlike Billions. It's set in New York, even though it's largely an Italian production, and the name that will pop out to American audiences is Patrick Dempsey (top).

Dempsey, last seen getting himself written out of Grey's Anatomy so he could drive race cars, returns here as Dominic Morgan, the American CEO of the mammoth New York-London Bank NYL.

Morgan – no specified relation to J.P. – isn't the sort of kindly neighborhood banker who hands out lollipops to schoolchildren opening their first $5 savings account.

No, Morgan kicks off the show with a rousing Bobby Axelrod-esque pep talk in which he likens the rest of the world to fish obliviously swimming around, not even noticing the water.

NYL not only understands the water but dominates it, thanks in no small measure to its "shark," apex predator Massimo Ruggero (the devilishly handsome Alessandro Borghi, top).

Ruggero walks around a room full of traders, dealmakers, analysts, and double-wide computer screens, glancing at each for about three seconds before saying some financial word like "hold," "short," "buy" or "sell."

He seems to have a remarkably high success rate with what civilians would think were snap decisions. He modestly says he has good instincts.

Ruggero is so successful that he's not only in line to become vice-CEO of NYL, but he takes over Devils from Dempsey. Yes, that's right. Massimo, not McDreamy, is the center of this show.

Naturally, Massimo comes with a complicated backstory. He's an outsider in one of the ultimate insider professions, a field where the blood gradually turns bluer over generations, and young whippersnappers are unwelcome at any meaningful management level.

Massimo also comes with an estranged wife, Carrie (Sallie Harmsen), who has problems that could embarrass the company and a small loyal posse of colleagues who are willing to go around the rules sometimes to see that all those bluebloods don't submarine Massimo.

One of the bluebloods, Edward Stuart (Ben Miles), is also a contender for the vice-CEO position, and it's not a friendly rivalry.

There's also a persistent woman, Sofia Flores (Laia Costa), who claims to be a blogger but might be something else. She seems to think NYL is deliberately destroying Greece.

It turns out, Massimo feels just a hint of inner ambivalence about his work, doesn't immediately deny it.

It takes almost the first full episode before someone dies, but when this person does, the intrigue increases, and some of the veneer of civility starts to fade. That is to say, the show begins.

Devils never reaches the level of Billions for clever twists and characters who pop off the screen. It's a more familiar sort of tale about corporations and greed and what people will do to obtain or retain money and power.

If it's worth less than billions, it still is fresh television. It's ten episodes long, and it's been renewed for a second season.

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