As the head of a very screwed-up, very wealthy, and very powerful family that looks a little like the Murdochs, Brian Cox is fantastic on HBO’s “Succession.” He plays media mogul Logan Roy, and he is riveting as he divides and conquers his four children, a few of whom are vying to take over his massive business. He’s wily, secretive, and, possibly, losing his mind. In the compelling opening scene of the series, the camera follows him on a disorienting journey through his house in the middle of the night.
I’m not suggesting “Succession” is the kind of drama we usually find on HBO. To me, it’s HBO’s “Billions,” a business-world soap opera filled with lots of macho finance talk, shifting alliances, and ferocious competition. It’s also a bit like ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money,” which starred Peter Krause, Donald Sutherland, Jill Clayburgh, and William Baldwin and aired from 2007 to 2009. And come to think about it, “Dynasty” is also a clear reference point for the show. First-world white-person problems run amok.
But “Succession” is elevated by Cox’s turn. He looks like late director Robert Altman in the role, and he brings a little bit of Shakespearean weight as he patriarchs the hell out of his family. He resents the fact that they’re all a bit spoiled, and they suffer for it. He dodges and darts, and they try to keep up.Matthew Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.