RAY DONOVANJuly 21, 2013


Ray Donovan (Showtime)

On Demand Weekly provides new reviews of hot movies and shows on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: “RAY DONOVAN.”

Fixers are the new doctor or detective on television. They are popping up all over. SCANDAL features Kerry Washington as a DC fixer for politicians. On PERSON OF INTEREST, Paige Turco plays a recurring character: a bigtime fixer for New York City politicians and celebrities. And why not? Who wouldn’t want someone (good-looking someone, of course) to make your problems go away. Let them get their hands dirty! Showtime enters the game with Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan, fixer to the rich and powerful in Hollywood.

As many of the tributes to the late, lamented James Gandolfini have pointed out, without Tony Soprano, there would be no Walter White (BREAKING BAD) or Dexter, or any other popular television character who is ostensibly evil, but remains sympathetic to the audience. Ray is another. He will gladly beat someone into a pulp with a baseball bat, but is sweet and empathetic to a transsexual hooker who is blackmailing one of Ray’s clients. He can’t resist a young woman’s offer of oral sex, but he fiercely loves his wife and children.

Bringing a complicated character to a series should be expected from creator and executive producer, Ann Biderman (SOUTHLAND), who also wrote the pilot episode. The pilot was directed by Allen Coulter (THE SOPRANOS, SONS OF ANARCHY), who also serves as producer on both the pilot and the second episode of the series. The Gandolfini effect is in full force.

As with Tony Soprano, taking care of the family Ray loves is not turning out to be as easy as bashing in someone’s head. When Ray’s father, Mickey (a remarkable Jon Voight) is let out of prison early, Ray worries that his past is going to wreak havoc on his wife and kids, and sure enough, Mickey heads straight for Ray’s home and turns on the charm, pitting Ray not only against his wife, but against his brothers, too.

Meeting Ray’s brothers introduces the family history. In the time-honored (ok, hoary) tradition of bad guys gone good, The Donovans own a boxing club. And being of Irish background, one brother is psychologically messed up because he was molested by a priest, and the other brother has a palsy. This is one messed up bunch. Stereotypes? Sure, we got ‘em. Accents? Thick as taffy on the Jersey Shore.

We are totally in On the Waterfront territory here, only the waterfront is the glamorous California coastline where the houses are all exquisite, the men are well dressed, and the women are scantily clad. Getting a 200 million dollar movie open without a hitch is worth cracking some heads for. If a wealthy man wants to find out if his girlfriend (not his wife, his girlfriend) is cheating on him? That’s worth broken bones, too. Wealth and fame equals entitlement, and justice has nothing to do with law and order.

Does the world need another bad guy with a heart of gold? If they keep the plots and minor characters as interesting as the first couple of episodes, RAY DONOVAN may just be the one more we do need.





- Jean Tait


Jean Tait is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. Currently the Director of Programming for the Connecticut Film Festival, Jean has programmed for the Jacksonville Film Festival and Sundance Channel.


You May Also Like From Jean:

Gillian Anderson's THE FALL Comes To America


The Video Glutton: ODW's Guide To Binge TV Viewing - GAME OF THRONES, Seasons 1 & 2 - BINGE IT

The Video Glutton: ODW's Guide To Binge TV Viewing -  HOUSE OF CARDS - BINGE IT

The Video Glutton’s 10 Rules To TV Binge Viewing

Binging On Demand - The New Addiction

« Previous
Next »