Following up the premiere of the final season of Dexter, Showtime debuted its newest drama, Ray Donovan. It stars Liev Schreiber, who we all remember as Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) arch-nemesis, Sabertooth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and to a lesser extent Orson Welles in RKO 281, the film based on the making of Citizen Kane.
If you’ve seen ABC’s Scandal, the character of Ray Donovan bears a striking resemblance to Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington). Both Ray and Olivia fix the problems of high profile people. Accused of murder, rape, homosexuality or bribery? Turn to Olivia if you’re in Washington DC or Ray if you’re in Hollywood. If coasts don’t matter, go with Olivia if you want someone tied to politics and has had an affair with a married man — that being the president. Ray’s the guy you go to if you’re an athlete or ex-Disney star in need of a cover up or protection from a stalker. Just be warned, this guy has anger management issues that you won’t find with Olivia. Don’t blame Ray. Blame the father. It’s always daddy issues. Mess with Ray, or the girl who crushes on him and you may catch a Louisville Slugger beat down.
The premiere of Ray Donovan begins with his father Mickey (Jon Voight) getting out of prison. Mickey is a bad apple, figure an ex crime boss, but you won’t find out about his checkered history until later in the series. Just know that he used to yell racial slurs, before discovering he had a thing for black women and subsequently had a child with one – Ray’s half brother, Daryll (Pooch Hall)… who Ray’s other two brothers have been hiding from him.
Mickey may be a bad apple, but he’s a family man. The first thing he does out of prison is kill the priest that molested his son Bunchy (Dash Mihok) as a kid. How’s that for fatherly love?
The premiere was a mix of comedy, origin story, blowjobs-on-the-road and crime. There were too many accents and dialects going on in this pilot. Most of the actors were putting on affected voices. It was really distracting, especially through the first half hour.
The pilot really didn’t hit its stride until Mickey finally meets up with Ray and we got a taste for the tension that we’ll see throughout the series. While Ray’s brothers and half-brother stand behind their father, Ray is firmly against him. Perhaps Ray even blames Mickey for the death of his sister, who took a dive off a rooftop while high on drugs.
In the closing scene, Mickey showed up at Ray’s house, while Ray was out. That might sound like a great thing for a grandfather to want to see his grand kids. However, he did so after Ray expressly forbid it. The scene also made you wonder if Mickey will somehow be a negative influence on Bridget, Ray’s daughter, or if Mickey was somehow involved in drugs and therefore directly responsible for his daughter’s death.
Try as Ray might to be a good man and shy away from his father’s style of living, we can quickly see that sooner or later, Ray and his father will form like Voltron.
We’re hopeful for this series. Schreiber and Voight are terrific as two sides of the Donovan family coin. Plus, who didn’t love watching Voight dance with the prostitute, while smoking pot? Unfortunately, the accents and dialects need to be toned down some. The United States is international. Let the actors talk in their own voice, you don’t have to force it. Although it took some getting used to, I can deal with Paula Malcomson (Sons of Anarchy) doing a regional accent. However, the overdone west coast and Russian accents have got to go.
Ray Donovan airs Sunday nights at 10PM, following Dexter‘s final season.