Review: Ray Donovan Season 1 (2013)


So this is a TV Show I happened to see last year but could not review. This Showtime series premiered back in 2013 and is all set to go into it’s third season this year. Set on the gorgeous backdrop of Los Angeles, Ray Donovan follows the story of a professional ‘fixer’ in Hollywood who can make other people’s problems go way, mainly the rich and famous. However, he faces a new problem of his own when his criminal father gets out of jail and tries to reaffirm himself with Ray’s family.

Created by: Ann Biderman (Southland) and starring: Liev Shreiber, Jon Voight, Paula Malcomson, Eddie Marsan, Steven Bauer and Elliot Gould, Ray Donovan is a disappointing and mediocre show and a misfire for Showtime. It seems to be inspired heavily by The Sopranos and Entourage and the show itself plays out many of the elements of the two shows, sadly just not as well. The acting is one thing that can’t be taken away from the show, it’s solidly acted and for that credit goes mainly to Liev Shreiber and Jon Voight. Shreiber plays the titular character, Ray Donovan and gives a stellar performance throughout the season. His character is an anti-hero that even though doesn’t come close to the likes of Tony Soprano or Walter White, is endearing and cool in his own way.

Shreiber Voight Jon Liev Donovan Ray

Jon Voight is of course a well known name in Hollywood. The actor made a name for himself in the 70’s with brilliant starring performances in films like: Midnight Cowboy, Coming Home and Runaway Train. Here Voight plays Ray’s father, Mickey Donovan, a man who used to be a gangster in the old days and now has a seriously damaged relationship with his son. Voight and Shreiber are the heart and soul of this show and Voight’s performance is even better than Schreiber’s playing a character who is a bit of an anti-hero himself. Eddie Marsan, Paula Malcomson, Steven Bauer and Elliot Gould are also quite good in there supporting roles.

Ray Donovan’s biggest problem is it’s poor writing and dull story-lines. The show tries to be too much like The Sopranos in some areas and can’t quite pull off the family drama element that Sopranos did so perfectly. Ray’s wife Abbey is a mirror image of Carmela Soprano, just not as good, his children also seem very similar to the Sopranos kids, just not as interesting. Ray Donovan is no Tony Soprano. What’s surprising is that the show started off quite well and the first four to five episodes were very engaging but gradually as the season went on the quality started to dip and even the introduction of James Woods as a recurring character couldn’t save the season. Even when the show tries to be itself it isn’t very interesting and most of it’s sub-plots are tedious and lackluster and the whole show feels very disjointed all together.


Ray Donovan is wonderfully made, exquisitely shot and excellently acted but lacks heavily in presenting an interesting and engaging story and if a television show isn’t compelling what’s the point of wasting your time on it? It has a lot of style but very little substance. Maybe Ray Donovan will get better in the future however I am not someone who will be sticking around to find out.




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