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#146 – Ray Donovan (2013 – 2020)

Created by: Ann Biderman

Starring: Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Paula Malcomson, Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Pooch Hall, Kerris Dorsey, Katherine Moennig, Devon Dagby, Steven Bauer, Hank Azaria & Elliott Gould.

Network: Showtime

The story

Ray Donovan is an LA fixer for the rich and famous in Hollywood. He sent his criminal father, Mickey to jail and brought his siblings from Boston to LA. He was in control until Mickey turns up one day and there’s more than a few unresolved issues to say the least. Drama, Action, comedy and intensity radiate from this effortlessly cool and incredibly well made series.

Ray Donovan is one of my favourite television series of all time. All the technical side of things is truly incredible. I’ve never seen a show as slick and as cool as Ray Donovan,the only competition to me is Mad Men and they’ve got the advantage of the sleek and sexy time period of the 1960’s to work with.

Ray Donovan has a cast that is utterly perfect. From the great Jon Voight and Liev Schreiber right down to the guest stars which include the likes of Ian Mc Shane, James Woods, Katie Holmes & Susan Sarandon.

What Ray Donovan does best is nail the family dynamic. The show follows Ray and his family who are a family deeply surrounded by crime, boxing and murder right from the start. The best thing they could all do is get far away from each other but they have this magnetic pull towards each other. Speaking as an Irish person who has a good understanding of that family dynamic and love/ hate family issues they got it right here.

Ray and Mickey are the stars of the show. They get so many great moments together and you feel the weight of a lifelong tenuous relationship with father and son. Their relationship even in the first episode is deep and troubled.

From left to right: Pooch Hall (Daryl Donovan) Eddie Marsan (Terry Donovan) Jon Voight (Mickey Donovan) Paula Malcomson (Abby Donovan) Dash Mihok (Brendan Donovan) Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan)

Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan is one of those rare but beautiful combination of a perfect character and actor. The way Ray walks and talks is so specific and unique. His glances and how he says so much while often speaking very little. He’s the type of leading character that should be on the same pantheon of characters like Tony Soprano, Don Draper and Walter White. Liev is one of those actors that has always been interesting to me. He’s got a unique quality to him and he brings subtlety to his role here as well as a toughness that’s incredibly believable and incredible to watch.

Jon Voight too shines brightly as Mickey Donovan, the chaotic patriarch of the family. Ray is the real leader of the family but the grip Mickey has on them is rooted so deeply in who the family are. What Jon Voight brings to the role is his unique charisma. He’s brought so much life and energy to a character that constantly does the wrong thing despite his best intentions.

Ray’s wife Abby is also a favourite of mine. Played beautifully by Paula Malcomson, she brings a vibrancy and vulnerability to a tough woman. Abby isn’t without her own issues and herself and Ray are far from the ideal couple but their love does show.

Ray Donovan is a criminally underrated show. This series is of the same calibre as many of the great television shows yet for some reason it went under the radar for the most part. I can’t say enough good things about the show. For what the show is it’s absolutely perfect. The show has nuance, action, drama, comedy and everything in between. Being set in LA for the first 5 seasons before the move to New York City for the rest keeps the show growing, changing and developing into something that never feels stale.

If only I could tell Ann Biderman thank you for the endless entertainment I’ve gotten out of this series. It’s not often that a series is this good but I was hooked from the first episode I watched.

10/10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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