Season 1: 7.5/10 The first season of Ray Donovan is supposed to be a crime drama, but couldn't help becoming a melancholic Shakespearean tragedy. Casting-wise, this show excels, despite being too overcrowded with characters and subplots of subplots. Each scene is pretty explosive and entertaining on its own, but is everyone necessary and vital for the progress of the plot? Most of the time the answer is a massive "No". But do I regret watching Jon Voight enjoying the living crap out of himself in a gay club? Most of the time the answer is a massive "Yes". So in general the season is both guilty and not guilty for its shenanigans,just like its characters.The motif of sinning and forgiving is fundamental to the series, with the little brother Bunchy Donovan (masterfully played by Dash Mihok) lying at the core of the conflict. As I already said, individually every character shines in their individual scenes, but few of them contribute to the story. Well, except a "son" character with questionable sexual orientation, he might as well not exist. The Donovans is spectacular, Ray's co-workers are campy badasses and Jon Voight basically chews your TV screen. The family is alright enough, it does the job to judge the main character for his every step. The second act really picks up when a guest, legendary old school actor joins the cast, unfortunately the ending fizzles out too quickly . What I hope happens with this show is that it stops taking itself so overly serious and starts contributing more screen time for its hilarious black humor. Some episodes you feel the struggle in the journey of self-discovery and I have faith that in Season 2, the series will find its groove.
Conclusion: The first season of Ray Donovan is a fun, over-the-top melanchonic journey of self-discovery for both the show and its characters, with tones shifting left and right. Worth watching for the outstanding performances and a terrific cast. And possibly Jon Voight alone.
7.9/10 During Ray Donovan's sophomore season, the show gets to play Capitan. After a couple episodes I felt like I finally was understanding the tone and the abundant amount of charm that the series was going for. It is still far away from being perfect, but I have begun to love it for the gritty and stylish atmosphere, well supported by its magnificent cast. I rarely feel this way about similar shows, but every character is truly fascinating. Even the obnoxious kids and the moody wife are more than my descriptions of them suggest. The man himself, Liev Schreiber absolutely kills it as Ray Donovan. You can feel the miniature domino that gets pushed at him every single episode, triggering a chain of events leading to his soul-wrecking change in the finale. Every single one of his brothers has an arc, that doesn't waste the acting abilities of the actors. The supporting cast is quirky and rich in character. And the never-ending highlight of the show is still Jon Voight's Mickey Donovan. During his scenes you start to perceive the tragic events in a more lighthearted matter. He is still an abnormally big jerk, but he brings much needed levity to everything happening and you clearly see that he'll get completely mad if he takes all the trainwrecks happening around him seriously. I particularly liked the great use of a returning character that didn't bring much to the table the first time around. The major negative aspect of the show is how conveniently the story plays out. Some things just happen for the sake of happening, so the plot could progress. You could say that's part of the show's charm, but it might bother some people. The most unexpected thing this season was the possession of Abby. It was like the demon inside Skyler from Breaking Bad was bored from its vessel and decided to enter someone else. Why the producers decided to make Abby completely insufferable is beyond my knowledge.
Conclusion: You may have noticed how I used the word "play" in the beginning, as the show still has a road to go to deserve its place behind the steering wheel. Yet there is so much charm to help you overlook the flaws. I place my confidence in the third season to be even better and to elevate the show to a "Capitan".