Watching “Ray Donovan” on Showtime. Wow. What a killer show. You should watch the pilot. It’s realllllly good. You’ll learn a lot.
What’s amazing about it is how many horrible possibilities for the hero are set up in the pilot. More than you can shake a stick at. More than you can shake a stick of dynamite at.
What the writers have done, and it’s terribly clever, is give the hero a family and a business and friends where each and every one is a potential for life-altering disaster.
It’s incredibly compelling.
I also watched the pilot for “Penny Dreadful” and it was soooo tepid in comparison. Nothing was going on. It kinda had one plot and that plot was dull.
Especially compared to “Ray Donovan.” The episode lasted the same amount of time, but we found out nothing about the heroine. Nothing about her problems were as compelling as Ray’s.
And she had so few of them.
Ray, however, has problems galore. Big ones.
Ray is an old fashioned fixer to the wealthy and corrupt in Hollywood.
Ray has to deal with a bunch of stuff.
This is a tad more than what was in the pilot, but most of this is set up in the pilot. These are the sticks of dynamite Ray has to juggle:
His crazy father, who we really hate and fear. He’s back five years early from the penitentiary. Ray did not expect his showing up. Big monkey wrench in Ray’s life.
His gentle ex-boxer brother, who has Parkinson’s. He’s sweet. But I worry.
His alcoholic loser brother, who was molested by a priest when he was younger. A jittery, dim-bulb time bomb.
His wife, who loves him but loathes his job. Spends a lot of time being angry at our Ray.
His half brother, by his father’s former girlfriend. A surprise that this guy even exists.
In the pilot, Ray does something truly horrible that may come back to haunt him. In the pilot!
Did I mention that his father served 20 years and blames Ray for it?
A movie studio executive who’s screwing an ex client / ex lover of Ray’s. Ray works for him and they hate each other.
An FBI agent who’s after Ray’s father, who informed for him in prison. (Episode 3, I think)
A nutty business partner who is profane and angry.
An incredibly guilty business partner who, with Ray, did something awful in the past, and feels horribly guilty for it. His wife has died and now he wants to confess his sins. Quite worrisome for us and for Ray.
Ray’s lesbian Eye in the Sky who takes care of surveillance back at the office. Very feisty. Sexy and competent.
A VERY tough guy from some Eastern European country. He works for Ray and seems to be 100% loyal. No one else in the whole show is that loyal to Ray. Well, maybe the Eye in the Sky.
Who else? Anybody else? Who else is trouble for our buddy Ray?
Well, there are his kids. A boy and a girl who each show questionable judgement — keeping Ray from being happy.
At the end of the pilot, you’re exhausted with worry.
And alive with interest in finding out how our buddy Ray, with all his problems, is going to negotiate this ghastly minefield… that is mostly of his own creation.
His job keeps Ray going and threatens to destroy him.