Showtime's Ray Donovan triumphs over Boardwalk Empire, The Leftovers and Masters of Sex on Sunday night's festival of the best in TV series. Well, we do have Steve Soderbergh's The Knick. But that is on Friday. With all of its colorful costumes and rich period detail not to mention Pat Birch's exciting choreography, Boardwalk Empire has become predictable and convoluted. Masters of Sex is also predictable, but The Leftovers is not.
Still it does not have the pistol like through line in plot that Ray Donovan has. The Leftovers is exciting and wild, but it is Ray Donovan that keeps you hanging on the edge of your bedpost wondering what producer Ann Biderman's writers have dreamed up. Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan owns his character ofRay Donovan's father completely.
We know Voight won an Emmy last season, but what happened to the Emmys this show merited this season? While Voight is triumphant, it is Liev Schreiber who tears up the telly. He has a controlled anger that is menacing. His wife Abs (Paula Malcomson) packs a wallop of an Irish housefrau moved to Hollywood the land of corruption and legal cover ups. "Oh, we must protect the rich and famous and far from righteous," is the show's mantra and it is Ray Donovan who is the fixer. A team of Avi (Steven Bauer) and lesbian Lena (Katherine Moenning) to do the dirty clean up and sleuthing while Ray tries to hold his marriage together and role of Daddy.
In this most recent episode, Snowflake, Ray's daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsay) has witnessed the brutal murder of her boyfriend, the up and coming cross over singer Marvin Gaye Washington (Octavius Johnson), and Rekon (Kwam Patterson) by Cookie (Omar Dorsey). a dangerous black mobster. She calls her Daddy Ray who tells her not to go to the police, but Bridget's mother, Abs, thinks the opposite and arranges a meeting with her boyfriend Jim (Brian Geraghty) who is a cop in homicide.
Ray is outraged and believes if Bridget testifies against Cookie, he will kill her. Bridget does not testify to this when she is interrogated by the police, but the truth that she was in the car and saw Cookie murder Recon and her lover Marvin, is now known by her mother and her mother's boyfriend. This puts Bridget at risk and the mercy of the gossip of her mother and Mr. Homicide Detective.
Meanwhile Bunchy, (Dash Mihoke) one of Ray's brothers is falling in love with a woman, Patty (Heather Mc Comb), who is pure and the mother of a young whippersnapper. What separates Ray Donovan from the mundane shoot-em-ups is its expose of the sexual crimes of the Catholic Church and the murder of a priest who raped Ray Donovan and his brothers while Ray's father did nothing to stop this abuse. Brother Bunchy is so damaged he cannot have sex with a woman or see this woman's small boy naked. Shades of his former assault at this age resurface.
The fine acting and plot twists keep Ray Donovan head and shoulders above the normal TV fare. It has trumped with Jon Voight and Live Schreiber tearing up the air waves. At the end of this episode, Ray visits a crusading writer, Steve Knight (Eion Bailey)who claims to heal through preaching self-love. Knight, a client of Ray's, has a girlfriend Ashley (Ambyr Childers) who is one of Ray's lovers. When Knight, the smug bizarre scam artist, sees a disheveled, tortured Ray at his door, he invites Ray in and says, "Do you want to tell me about your day?" Ray enters this handsome sleaze balls home to either have sex with his girlfriend or to seek advice as to handle the black mob of Cookie who is a threat to Ray's family.
You just don't know but sure as heck want to know and so you will return next week to this unusual cast of fine actors playing former inhabitants of Boston known as Southies. While Ray Donovan may have begun as a repeat performance of a humdrum TV cop show, it has risen above the boring and predictable to the cream in the crème fraiche in its stunning characterizations of people trying to cope amidst the smarmy values of Hollywood and the damage the Catholic Church has reaped on young boys. Elliot Gould tip toes in for a show stopping appearance as Ezra Goldman, a client of Ray's. Terry Donovan (Eddie Marsen) who has acquired Parkinson's disease from too many blows owns the local gym which is the laundromat for Ray's dirty money and performs some of the finest acting in this show.
Maybe the real enjoyment from watching this lalapalooza is the respect it has shown in casting of Hollywood legends and often over looked fine actors in small, but meaty parts. We have: Ann Margaret, Richard Benjamin, Rosanna Arquette, James Woods, Sherilyn Fenn, Denise Crosby a relative of Bing Crosby and, of course, Elliot Gould. Ray Donovan has three episodes left so it is not too late to tune in and let it entertain you. I assure you, it will.
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