Review of "Ray Donovan" on Showtime From The TV MegaSite

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Ray Donovan

"Ray Donovan" review by Sundi 7/10/13
Sundays 10pm et/pt on Showtime


I am two episodes in to Showtime’s gritty new drama Ray Donovan and I am hooked. This show is intense and raw and really delivers in the white-guy-with-demons-but-a-good-heart department. Liev Shrieber plays the title character as a transplant from South Boston (with the dreamy accent to match) that works as a “cleaner” of sorts for Los Angeles’ rich and famous; sorting out messes that could involve (but are not limited to) dead hookers, transvestites, stalkers and cheating husbands.. Ray has two brothers in LA, as well, that run a boxing gym. Bunchy, played by Dash Mihok, is a drunk and an addict as a result of being molested as a young boy by a priest, and seems the most damaged of the three. Terry Donovan, played by Eddie Marsan, has Parkinsons,’ developed after years spent as a boxer and is a quiet force in the first two episodes of the season.  Ray’s wife is the harping, hard-edge Abby, brought to life by Paula Malcolmson. Her Boston accent, is far less dreamy as she nags Ray to move them to a better neighborhood, and enroll their children in better schools.


The show quickly becomes two-sided as we see Ray navigate these two worlds that define him as a character. One the one hand, we see Ray breaking hands, and offering cryptic ultimatums such as “the bag or the  bat.” But on the other, we see him interact with his two children in a fiercely loving way that endears you to him, even when he is holding a gun to his own father’s head. But, in Ray’s defense, Mickey Donovan, played by Jon Voight,  is a bad guy, and the producers are being very stingy in doling out plot points concerning his character and his twenty-year prison stint. There is poison between the father and son, and it only adds fuel to the smoldering cinders that the first two episodes have generated.


Shrieber’s brooding, man-in-black, fish-out-of-water bit is irresistible and I LOVE this incarnation of the anti-hero. The most compelling moments of this show are inevitably the interactions between Ray and the sleazy, smarmy Hollywood clientele. We are meant to see Ray through their eyes as they long to be him -- aloof, detached, cool. Conversely, we see them through Ray’s eyes as as he tolerates and manages their catastrophes with disdain and barely veiled contempt. It creates a hierarchy that places Ray firmly on top, and that is what is driving this show.  

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