Liev Schreiber is an actor who has never really found the right vehicle for talents. After breaking into the mainstream as Cotton Weary in the Scream movies, Schreiber has spent making a variety of films but rarely getting the acclaim he so rightly deserves. That all changed in 2013 when he landed the lead role in Showtime series Ray Donovan and the show went on to draw some of the best ratings the network has ever had.
Ray Donovan tells the story of the titular L.A. fixer played by Schreiber. Working for law firm Goldman & Drexler, Ray is the man that gets called when a problem needs to disappear. He tries to keep his family – wife Abby (Paula Malcomson), daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) and son Conor (Devon Bagby) – as far away from his mostly illegal activities as possible. In the show’s first season Ray’s estranged father Mickey (Jon Voight) is released from prison and welcomed back by his other sons Darryll (Pooch Hall), Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok), each of which have their own problems. Ray is none too pleased about the return of his father and tries to balance his work and his family with mixed results.
Season one of Ray Donovan is a gritty, dark and at times very violent look at the underbelly of Los Angeles. The glamour and glitz we tend to associate with the US city is not what’s represented in this drama. At the centre of it all is Schreiber who puts in his best performance to date as the brooding, mysterious and malevolent Ray. Throughout the first season Ray is up against a whole heap of problems in terms of family and clients. A recurring issue that crops up throughout the season is Hollywood actor Tommy Wheeler (Austin Nichols) whose sexuality keeps threatening to be exposed which is one of the storylines we enjoyed the most.
The tense dynamic between Ray and his father Mickey is one of the show’s biggest hooks. The two go to war pretty much from the first moment they are reunited with Ray eager to keep his scheming father away from his family. Jon Voight is superb as the foul-mouthed and meddlesome Mickey and we must say we’re impressed at just how much Voight was game for in the show. The conflict with Mickey causes problems between Ray and his wife Abby as well as their two children.
The show features a very strong supporting cast including Katherine Moennig as Ray’s press agent Lena and Steven Bauer as Ray’s right-hand man Avi. Kerris Dorsey sheds her Brothers & Sister role with a much grittier character here as Ray’s daughter Bridget. The sub-plot around her first steps into defying her father are fantastic.
Special features on the box set include a look at the locations used in the series in Where’s Ray?, a variety of behind-the-scenes featurettes including Hanging With Jon Voight and video diaries from Pooch Hall. There’s also an in-depth look at the first episode of the show and featurettes digging deeper into Ray.
Ray Donovan was one of our favourite new shows of 2013 and we can’t wait for the second season to kick-off in July. With Live Schreiber’s powerful performance at the helm, the show is one of the most intense and gripping we’ve seen in ages. If you haven’t seen any of Ray Donovan yet then we recommend you pick up this season one boxset and do some serious binge-viewing before the show’s second season. You won’t regret it.