Entertainment

Ray Donovan: Meet The New Gangster…Same As The Old

This summer, Showtime introduced a new series ‘Ray Donovan’ that promised to be a cross between ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Brotherhood’, and the defunct (but surprisingly entertaining) FX series ‘Dirt’.  I feel like I’m always talking about those damn Sopranos, but that might be because networks are constantly trying to reproduce that creation.  Here’s a series synopsis for those who didn’t watch this season…

Set in the sprawling mecca of the rich and famous, RAY DONOVAN does the dirty work for LA’s top power players. The new one-hour series stars Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award nominee Liev Schreiber in his first lead television role as the go-to guy who makes the problems of the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls disappear. This powerful drama unfolds when his father, played by Oscar® winner Jon Voight, is unexpectedly released from prison, setting off a chain of events that shakes the Donovan family to its core. – Sho.com

The show is all about Ray and his relationships.  It does have good actors and an interesting premise, but I can’t help but feel like we’ve seen a lot of these plot points before.  Ray has a tough gangster-type job that he can’t fully discuss with his wife (seen it).  Ray cheats on said wife (of course we’ve seen that).  Ray has a complicated yet strangely endearing relationship with his children (that’s every parent-child relationship on-screen and off).  Ray hates his father (just a mirror of Tony Soprano and his mom).

The Ray vs. Mickey (his father) feud was the main plot during season one but they never really gave us anything juicy to hold onto.  It seemed like it was going one way (towards intrigue), they would drop a dud missile and make it go the other way (towards ho-hum).  For example, Ray arranges his father’s execution, but his dad talks his way out of it and turns the tables on Ray, but ends up saving Ray’s life in the end.  I don’t want to seem cruel, but it would have been better, and possibly more realistic, if one of the two actually died.  That would have put the audience on edge and let us know that anything could happen at any time.  That’s what good gangster stories are all about, right?

For me, the good parts of this first season center on Ray’s brothers Terry and Bunchy.  Terry runs a boxing gym, suffers from Parkinson’s disease (of course from a previous boxing career), and starts a relationship with a woman that he later finds out is married.  Bunchy spends the entire first season continuing to deal with the aftermath of being molested by a priest when he was a young boy.  It just so happens that the same priest has relocated from Boston to LA (just like the entire Donovan clan… go figure) and Ray ends up shooting this priest in the head after Bunchy kidnaps him.  It was revealed that Ray had been molested by this man too, and another piece of the Ray Donovan “puzzle” fell into place.  Those storylines were good… the rest?  Not so much.

They have to stop recycling plot points and delve deeper into unique stories like they do with the Terry and Bunchy.  That’s where the magic is.  Otherwise, we are just watching the same bad guy gangster story that we’ve become accustomed to on other shows.  Deadline.com is already reporting that Showtime has picked up season two, so I’m hoping that they pick things up a bit going forward.

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Jack Gotta

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