Watch This Show: Ray Donovan

showtime-debuts-ray-donovan-pilot-in-fullNow that I am back from vacation and caught up on a particular nasty bout of lack of sleep, MIDWEST MARK is officially back in action.  The problem with being out on vacation for a week doing nothing but sitting on a beach and drinking beer is that a huge backlog of television hits the DVR, and getting caught up is a pretty massive post-homecoming responsibility.  First-world problems are so stressful.

I suppose MIDWEST MO is happy to not be flying solo anymore, but we sure appreciate the consistent AROUND THE WEB updates containing such hard-hitting journalistic pursuits as TAYLOR SWIFT’S perfume and ONE DIRECTION movies.

Ram-rodding our target market down a notch or two has done wonders for our fanbase and my nine-year old daughter has now officially changed allegiances to being MIDWEST MO’S number one fan.  Maybe I should start covering Disney Channel shows to get back in her good graces?  Don’t bet on it.  Everything considered, we should slightly retool the t-shirt design to something resembling this:

team mo

Now for something not geared towards the tweeniebopper crowd:  SHOWTIME’S new series RAY DONOVAN.  Not perfect but chock full of potential, RAY DONOVAN’S slightly uneven story is held down by extremely strong performances by LIEV SCHREIBER, JON VOIGHT and EDDIE MARSAN.

Will you choose The Bag or The Bat?  Decide inside…

I caught the ‘bleeped and blurred’ version of it when it streamed online just before the televised premiered and loved the premise with Schreiber’s no-apologies tough guy attitude.  He plays the titular character who acts as a ‘fixer’ for celebrities in Hollywood.  When you think ‘fixer’, think stalkers or dead hookers and you have the right idea.  He’s not all brainless brawn, as he employs a number of other folks who work to smooth over PR and clean up forensic evidence.  He is a deeply flawed individual in a deeply flawed family with his father (JON VOIGHT) being a recently-released criminal and one of his brothers battling with deep-seated childhood issues.

I sort of wish that the show set up the ‘Hollywood Fixer’ side of Ray more effectively before diving into a great deal of his personal problems.  That part felt a bit rushed and seems like there should have been more of a buildup to his infidelity (for instance) or to the reveal of his brother’s problems.  The fact that the show lays all cards on the table immediately makes me think that it might travel in an entirely different direction than is to be expected.

The storyline with Ray’s brother seems like a bit of a stretch and is an issue that I recently had with DA VINCI’S DEMONS.  Ray’s brother was molested by a priest when he was a child, which clearly had a negative affect on him on a number of levels.  The inclusion of the church felt like another blatant “church is evil” stretch much like DA VINCI’S DEMONS did with the pope’s populous penis.  In full disclosure, I’m no big fan of the church myself (to say the least), but the way it is portrayed in RAY DONOVAN is almost like carrying out some sort of misguided vendetta against the institution.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, and we will see how it plays out with the rest of the season.

Seeing as the version I saw was slightly edited, maybe adding the full effect of gratuitous nudity and insanely profane language will be all it takes to bump it up a bit.  In the meanwhile, let’s call the premiere “B-” material with enough potential to take it far above that in a short amount of time.

The premiere itself was a big hit for SHOWTIME, who saw the largest series debut in the network’s history with 1.35 million viewers.  It airs on Sunday nights before DEXTER.

If you find yourself temporarily SHOWTIME-less, check out the entire first episode below, then upgrade if you so choose: