Ray Donovan premiered Sunday June 30th on Showtime to 1.25 million viewers, the highest premier in Showtime history. And why not, Showtime has combined the right elements, an impressive ensemble cast and a well established creative team, resulting in top shelf drama.
“Donovan” stars Liev Schreiber in the title role, his first series regular role, he is in almost every scene, we see him move effortlessly from family man, to cooler than cool fixer to brutal punisher wielding a baseball bat and finally to a broken man passing out drunk in his LA apartment. The show wants us to know what a complex character Ray is, there is no slow burn with this show, unlike Mad Men or The Killing.
We got a lot in the pilot, dementia, sex abuse, suicide, revenge the list goes on, these set ups will either pan out and propel the story or fizzle as the show becomes overloaded and unable to keep up the goals it has set.
The show was created and is executive produced by Ann Biderman, (Southland), her partners in crime are Mark Gordon, executive producer (Criminal Minds) and Allen Coulter director (Boardwalk Empires, damages, The Sopranos).
The supporting players who round out Ray’s life are his wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) his children Bridget and Connor (Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby); his brothers Terry and Bunchy (Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok) and his father recently released on parole and relocated from Boston, Mickey (Jon Voight).
His work life is no less crowded, he has two assistants Lena (Katherine Moening) Avi (Stephen Bauer), Ray’s main employer are two lawyers, Ezra (Elliot Gould) and Lee (Peter Jacobson). In the pilot we are introduced to several clients who are in need of Ray’s services, it is unclear if they will remain throughout the season or be replaced by others in need of Ray’s help.
One of the weaker moments of the pilot came when (spoiler alert), the dead hooker from one of Ray’s client’s world could be used to stop the outing of another client that was just caught with a tranny. It didn’t show that Ray was a master fixer, just good at turning dumb luck into a positive. The other demonstration of his fixing skills bordered on the ridiculous, having a stalker dye his body green to the brutal beating the same stalker with a baseball bat when he didn’t stay away from the actress as Ray had warned. I guess we will have to see if Ray’s fixing skills improve, or is he just a lucky thug.
Ray’s life is very complicated, his wife is unhappy and in true don’t cross a bitch fashion, lets the wolf in the gate when she allows Ray’s father in their house after Ray made it a point to tell her not to do it, that Mickey would ruin everything. Does she betray him because she believes Ray slept with an actress or because her daughter didn’t get into private school or because they live in Calabassas. The reason is irrelevant the writers needed her to betray Ray in the pilot to set up the dominoes for the rest of the season.
We are not told what happened between Ray and his father that caused Ray to set Mickey up and send him to prison, but it seems like everyone else is in on it, Ezra, the brothers, and Johnnathon Schaech’s character Sean. We aren’t given his backstory in the pilot, but he knows the truth so I can only assume he will reappear. Ezra (Gould) has dementia, I see mercy killing in his future, he may say the wrong thing to the wrong person, he is a liability and survival trumps loyalty. Will Ray do it or someone else?
Ray is also tasked with taking care of his family of origin, his brother Terry, a former boxer took too many blows to the head and has Parkinson’s, but manages to run a boxing gym, (happy) but lives in the back room (sad). His other brother Bunchy (Mihok) was molested by a priest, his is an addict spiraling out of control. Ray’s sister is dead, she jumped off a building while on drugs. At the top of the family tree sits Mickey (Voight), a downright despicable character, I needed a shower after watching scenes with him.
And finally, I must say something about those Boston accents, having grown up and gone to college in Boston, the accents are pretty bad. Its a hard dialect to nail, and everyone keeps fading in and out. You could argue that Ray, his family and brothers have been on the west coast for 10 years so their accents could fade. But Voight just got off the plane. I guess it’s too late to ask them to drop them all together.
I will be back next week, I want to see where this is headed. I predict any day now Showtime will announce a season 2 has been ordered.
Did you watch? Will you keep watching? Head to the comments.
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