If you’re looking for an adult crime drama to fill the gap left by Breaking Bad, Showtime’s Emmy award-winning Ray Donovan should satisfy you’re longing. Set in Los Angeles, the story follows an Irish-American man from South Boston who’s under the employ of a powerful law firm that represents rich and famous clients.
Our hero, Donovan (Liev Schreiber), makes sure they win their cases, using money or his fists to get the desired results. To put it simply, he’s a ‘fixer’. Personal conflict arises when his father (Jon Voight) gets out of prison earlier than expected, and the FBI tries to bring down Ray and the firm.
Schreiber is known for being a character actor over the years. He’s never had that breakthrough Hollywood starring role. His subtle yet commanding performance as part of the incredible ensemble cast in last year’s Oscar-winning Best Picture Spotlight was criminally underrated. A large and muscular man, Schreiber makes for quite an imposing figure with a domineering presence. With #RayDonovan, he rightfully steps into his own ‘spotlight’ as a leading man.
Meanwhile, Voight reminds us of the promise from his earlier career when he starred in the acclaimed Midnight Cowboy with Dustin Hoffman back in 1969. His Emmy-winning co-starring role in #RD is much better than some of the terrible genre fare Voight has infamously appeared in, like Anaconda and Tomb Raider (with his daughter Angeline Jolie).
Airing on a cable network like Showtime, RD definitely takes advantage of its R-rating. Since it isn’t constricted by traditional network television who’s shows are intended for the general audience, this series emphasizes its adult content. Since this involves the criminal underworld there is a lot of colorful language and brutal violence, along with some sexy tantalization.
Debuting in 2013, the series premiere broke Showtime’s viewership records. The first episode was the most popular debut of all time for the channel. The celebrated show just aired its fourth season this summer and was quickly renewed for a fifth. #RayDonovan was well-received by critics and audience alike, with an impressive overall IMDB rating of 8.3 and a 77% ‘Fresh’ score from Rotten Tomatoes. The first three 12-episode seasons are currently available to own on DVD.
The adult drama is deliberately paced with a focus on long-term storytelling. RD isn’t sprinting to the finish line, it’s running a marathon, reaching its stride in Season 3. There is a real focus on character development with this series. A twist-filled concept doesn’t fuel the plot here, it’s the relationships and how they evolve over time as characters overcome obstacles.
A talented ensemble cast joins the astounding leads: Paula Malcomson (Hunger Games, Deadwood) co-stars as Ray’s wife, Eddie Marsan (from the hidden gem The Disappearance Of Alice Creed) as Ray’s older brother who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, Dash Mihok as Ray’s alcoholic younger brother, and Steven Bauer (Scarface) as Ray’s right-hand man/former soldier/ex-Mossad agent.
The stellar lead performances are really the main draw to watch #RD. The story wouldn’t work without the emotional conviction of both Schreiber and Voight. The crime series has been recognized over the years with several nominations from television award heavyweights like the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice. The upcoming 2016 Emmy Awards nominated the series for 5 awards, including Schreiber’s leading man performance.
As the series continues, it seems to garner more and more positive attention. A simple premise creates a strong foundation to structure long character arcs over the entire series. While not for the faint of heart, the drama outweighs the intensity. Fans of solid storytelling and character pieces will enjoy Ray Donovan, one of Showtime’s most popular shows.
Who is your favorite supporting character? What was your favorite episode? Would you like to see Schreiber in more starring roles?
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