'Ray Donovan' Needs to Keep the Focus on Ray

TV Review - Jackie K Cooper
"Ray Donovan" (SHOWTIME)

"Ray Donovan" starts its third season on SHOWTIME on Sunday, July 12 at 9PM. Most of the major characters are returning and some new ones have been added to spice things up. But the main draw as always is Liev Schreiber's performance in the title role. He is the main reason to watch and he is the main source of entertainment.

This season starts off with Ray and his wife Abby (Paula Malcomson) being apart. She was caught up in an affair that has now ended but Ray can not get past it. Despite his daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) begging him to come home and Abby begging for forgiveness, he remains aloof and away.

Ray also gets a new employer named Finney (Ian McShane). He has some tasks for him to handle in the Ray Donovan way. His daughter Paige (Katie Holmes) also has some projects that need the Donovan touch. And Ray being Ray is able to fit right in with their needs. He is great at his job. It is just his personal life that is such a mess.

The addition of Holmes to the cast is a good one. This is the first role I have seen her in, in some time, that allows her to stand up straight and draw on her natural sexiness. Gone is her slumped posture because of her height and also that little girl sweetness she carried forward from "Dawson's Creek." Paige Finney is a grown up woman with all the strengths and weaknesses that entails.

The show really works when it focuses on the life and times of Ray Donovan, but sadly it moves to other Donovan characters from time to time and that is where it shows its weaknesses. The audience has to go through the trials and tribulations of Ray's father (Jon Voight) and his brothers Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Terry (Eddie Marsan).

All three of these men are great actors but their storylines drag down the enjoyment of the show. Every time the focus left Ray and went to one of these three I lost interest. Voight's role as Mickey is the most interesting of the three but this season he gets involved with a ring of prostitutes and it just goes nowhere. Bunchy is ineptly running the gym and his ineptness is the key to his story. No surprises there. Terry is in prison and is in ill health. This is the most suspenseful of the subplots but it still doesn't hold a candle to Ray's story.

If "Ray Donovan" wants to maintain its popularity, and it is a very popular show, it needs to be all about Ray. Schreiber is who we want to see and his performance makes the show work. Give Voight a more interesting story to tell and play down the actions of the brothers. Do that and the show will be A - OK.

"Ray Donovan" airs Sunday nights at 9 PM on SHOWTIME.

Jackie K Cooper