Ray Donovan: Get Even Before Leavin’ – Empty (Review)


Last week’s episode had Ray getting desperate enough to save his family that he agreed to do the Nevada job with Mickey.  This week Donavan goes to Primm with his father and after casing the casino, they pick grab Ed.  “Get Even Before Leavin'” follows Ray and Mickey’s as they retrieve  the money.  It also deals with Conor’s fascination with guns.

Bridget breaks up with her teacher and Abby gets another opinion on her breast cancer. Bunchy is left with the baby when Teresa (Alyssa Diaz) returns to Bakersfield and Ray comes up empty in Nevada.

In  Nevada Little Bill has put up a $250 thousand reward for the stolen money.  Ray plays blackjack and asks about the reward. Mickey gets donuts and the two men plan to grab Ed  (J. LaRose). Waller’s driver turns up at Little Bill’s and warns Ray to get back to LA.  Mickey learns of Muncie’s death. 

Conor is clearly  obsessed with guns. Avi tries to get the youngster’s mind off of weapons. Later Avi agrees to show Conor how to shoot a gun.  Damon (Dominique Columbus) is late for his first day at the gym. Terry tells the boy off and then apologizes. Bridget stops by and tells her uncle that she and Donellen have broken up. 

She left him  after learning that she was not the first student he had an affair with.  Terry comforts her and Damon looks on.

Little Bill and Algoma

Mickey takes the van out and parks it while Ray asks Ed to give his broken down vehicle a tow.  Ed agrees and when he gets to the van Mickey and Ray take him prisoner.  Ed refuses to tell Mickey where the money is and Ray shoots the man in his foot.

Pinkie (Travis Hammerhas the money.

Back in LA, Hector Campos (Ismael Cruz Cordova) shows up at the Fite Club looking for Ray.  Teresa is not returning  Bunch’s calls and he goes to find her.  Bridget offers to look after Maria and Bunchy turns her down. He takes the baby with him and goes to see his wife. 

Bunchy finds Teresa at her cousin’s house.  She tells Bunchy  she left after wanting to stab him, the baby and herself with scissors.  The new mother is clearly suffering from postpartum depression. Bunchy leaves Maria with her mother and says he will be back later to pick them both up.

Ed, Ray and Mickey turn up at Pinkie’s house.  The stoned young man panics when Ray calls him on Ed’s phone.  He  brings the money out and pours gasoline on it and himself.  Ray attempts to negotiate  and Mickey shoots Pinkie.

The lighter in his hand falls to the ground and sets the gasoline on fire. The young eccentric is blown up by the gas can in his hand. Ray rescues the money.  Donovan is furious with his father. Ray gives Ed some money and tells him to take Pinkie’s jeep and get out.

Mickey and Ray argue about Sylvie.  The two Mexicans that  the Donovan’s saw earlier pass the van and a slot machine falls off their truck. Ray hits the machine.  Mickey calls Sylvie who sets him up for Little Bill.

In LA, Bunchy returns to the gym without Maria. He tells Bridget to go home as her parents miss her.  Back in Nevada, the police and Little Bill turn up at the van. Bill grabs his money and tells the two Donovan men that he is letting them go. Primm takes their pictures and drives away. The police leave also.

At the gym, Hector’s sparring with Daryll draws a crowd.

Mickey learns that Abby has cancer and offers to take the rap for the Minassian murders so Belikov will be released. Bridget comes home and Conor breaks the gun safe open.

While Bunchy cleans up the mess from Hector’s sparring match, Teresa drops off Maria and leaves.  Outside the police station where Mickey has turned himself in, Sylvie tries to call him  but it is too late.

“Get Even Before Leavin'” finally sees Ray run out of steam and options.  He returns from Nevada empty handed and Mickey has to save the day.  Bridget may be home but her brother’s focus on being a gangster like his dad and his getting Abby’s gun does not bode well for the Donovan family.

Abby refuses to have the double mastectomy and is opting for alternative treatment.  It was heart breaking to see Sylvie being forced to give Mickey up.  Just as heart breaking was Mickey’s believing that she did it for the reward, with a little urging from Ray.

Avi trying to distract Conor

Donovan’s next move will be to release Belikov but previews of next week’s show seems to indicate that the Russian is not a forgiving man. This violent season has a sense of foreboding  lingering in the background while Ray attempts to keep his family safe.

The level of violence perpetrated by Donovan has escalated considerably as his desperation rises. It is pretty easy to assume that this season will not end well for the Donovan clan.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays on Showtime. Check this award winning series out if you have not already done so.


Guest starring Ted Levine as Bill Primm and Paula Jai Parker as Sylvie Starr. 

Galavant: Love & Death, Eddie Marsan and Do the D’dew, aka Do-Do (Review)

The latest two episodes of Galavant: Love and Death plus Do the D’dew (which should be do-do cue schoolboy laughter) include two of the most brilliant musical numbers.


The latest two episodes of Galavant: Love and Death plus Do the D’dew (which should be do-do cue schoolboy laughter) include two of the most brilliant musical numbers.

In Love and Death, there is the omnipresent Eddie Marsan, last seen in River as serial killer Thomas Cream, playing death and rocking the episode.

There is also Reece Shearsmith as the healer, who has his own splendid musical number and who also gets in a Shaun of the Dead reference when talking about his half-dead/half-alive army:

“They’re a bit “bite-y”

Sidenote: Shearsmith was in the first of the cornetto trilogy films, mIssed the second (Hot Fuzz) and made into the third, The World’s End. To clarify the reference, Shaun’s mum “We’re coming to get you Barbara,” says that some men (zombies) who attacked Philip were a bit “bite-y.” Reece played one of “Yvonne’s group.”

Marsan’s entire number had everything, humor, pithy lyrics, knee in the groin and a slew of Galavant’s friends, including one odd stranger (for rhyming purposes):

“I am just some random guy…”

A bit of fun, at the expense of the “dying” Galavant, who never was going to die before time.  Shearsmith’s role as Neo Sporin  (Get it? Get it??) was fun, although he was probably thankful not to follow Marsan’s grim reaper routine.

Standout Moments:

Timothy Omundson with his sidesplitting “Tom and Jerry” high-pitched scream for help after his preceding deep growl of “you’ve done quite enough.”

The “some random guy” gag and Galavan complaining that he had obviously run out of friends.

The Unicorn’s return…

“Guess the Future” game and Isabella’s DVR line and then being tricked into leading the Hortensia army into battle.

Vinnie Jones and the “proposal” kick in the face incident.

Eddie Marsan as Death: “Say sayonara as there ain’t no tomorra…where you’re goin’.”

Bobbi (After Galavant interrupts the kiss): “You couldn’t wait 30 more seconds to come back from the dead huh?”

Gareth and Magdalena telling each other how they feel via the “soldiers of Valencia.”

Hortensia’s weapons of war…

The un-dead army.

Honorable Mentions:

Galavant: (hacking) Ugh Sorry, but it feels like there is a tiny wiry hair stuck in the back of my throat.

Isabella gathering weapons.

Next up is Do the D’dew where Robert Lindsay gets to do a little song and dance of his own, as the villainous wedding planner who makes a dark offer.  Isabella and the Jester head to the enemy camp to surrender and after Magdalena trots out her “monstrous” terms. “Tiny Tot,” recants the idea of laying down “toy” arms and the two women enter into a spirited (and flaming brilliant) musical cat fight.

Later Isabella motivates the denizens of Hortensia to donate weapons.

Chester Wormwood offers the King and Queen his “doubly dark” magic, “D’dew” and Gareth tells Magdalena that he is not comfortable with the this turn of events and she tells Wormwood that they do not want the D’dew. After Gareth leaves, she then tells Chester that she will find him later.

Roberta and Richard, “R&R” do their medieval version of the John Travolta/Olivia Newton-John “Tell me more” number from Grease, only titled “Finally.” The un-dead army fills in for the Pink Ladies and the T-birds which allowed this “homage” to work perfectly.

Later Galavant shares a moment with his un-dead army, or half-dead army, where they respond to love.  Magdalena goes with the D’dew, which causes her eyes to turn red and provides a great “Up” moment. Gareth notice the eye colour change and asks about it, the Queen points off the left and says:

 “Oh look, there’s a squirrel.”

This D’dew moment takes place mid-song where Isabella is painting how dark all this season has been.

Standout Moments:

The singing cat fight; “I really don’t like you.”

Isabella to Jester:

“Don’t get your bells in a bunch”

Roberta singing to the camera about living alone and having to chase it to finish her line.

The fact that “D’dew” sound so much like “do-do.” (In keeping with the puerile humor in the show thus far this certainly made me chuckle.)

Honorable Mention:

The Jester’s raspberry prior to the cat fight.

Galavant’s un-dead army following him like the “Zs” follow “The Murphy” in Z Nation.

Annoying bit:

Isabella: Easy peasy, pudding and pie…


Obviously easy peasy, lemon squeezy (which most people say) was too difficult to rhyme, hence the change.  Of course I could be wrong, if so, any feedback from the show’s makers would be welcomed…

Overall Thoughts:

These last two episodes, which could be called the penultimate double installment, were brilliant.  Prior to the Karen David and Mallory Jansen duo, Eddie Marsan had the award for the “episode best” musical number.

With the finale just one week away, and more homages, inside jokes and some splendid gags, Galavant will be going out on a high note. This ode to all things musical has converted at least one “non-musical” nerd into a fan.

Galavant will end on January 31, aka next Sunday on ABC. Tune in and see how this all ends, Will Gal get the girl or will Wormwood win the day.



Galavant: Episodes 5 & 6 – Nick Frost and Sheridan Smith (Review)

Galavant, with episodes 5 and 6 continues with a guest star roster to die for, Robert Lindsay is still playing Wormwood the wedding planner and evil schemer and Sheridan Smith comes in to play a hirsute princess who does not like weddings.


Galavant, with episodes 5 and 6 continues with a guest star roster to die for, Robert Lindsay is still playing Wormwood the wedding planner and evil schemer and Sheridan Smith comes in to play a hirsute princess who does not like weddings.  Another well-known performer plays a giant, Nick Frost.  Sadly no one appears as a hobbit since they were eaten by the starving Galavant, Richard and “Bobbi.”

It has to be said that after disliking this series intently upon the first viewing, it has slowly but surely become a favorite.  The combination of great guest stars and repeated viewings has ensured that this comical ode to all things musical has overcome the initial misgivings and annoyance at the songs all sounding the same.

Of course it took the next episode, with guest star Eddie Marsan, who  plays death,  doing his song and dance which did, suddenly, sound completely different from all other songs in the second season that  won this dubious heart over.

Sidenote: completely unrelated to “Galavant,” but Eddie Marsan does appear to be in everything thing at the moment.  No complaints here though as Marsan has been a favorite performer for years, but he really seems to be everywhere.   

The omnipresent Marsan aside, he does not appear in either of these two episodes,  but the end of number 6, About Last Knight, with Galavant being skewered by the sword that Sid throws, his entrance in episode 7 is assured…

Episode 5:

Before the “death” of Galavant the trio of protagonists run into the giants  headed up by Andre (Nick Frost) and the dwarves.  Each group are the same height, at first glance all being around 5’8″ or 9″, as Frost is the former…

The whole battle between antagonists is down to a bridge built where one side is “dwarf size” and the other “giant size.” Leaving aside the ludicrous concept of each faction not recognizing that they are the same height (something that Bobbi sings brilliantly about) the whole thing is a long build up to a homage to…wait for it….West Side Story.

Galavant meets with the giants, who convinced Richard earlier that an iguana is in fact a fire breathing dragon and exchanged the creature for the jewel of Valencia, to get the gem back, or to convince them to join his fight to free Isabella.

Richard sides with the dwarves and just as things look to get fiery, Roberta fixes the bridge and stops the hostilities. Unfortunately the two warring groups then decide that they have to sort themselves and the bridge out properly.

Standout Moments:

Andre the Giant (Get it? Get it?) and his line about the dwarves complaining about the bridge:

“And those whiny little b*tches…”

The grumbling by the giants each time Galavant mentions dwarves.

The romance building between the Queen and King Gareth and Sid talking to his “Bro” Gareth warning him not to fall in love with Madalena and the end results.

Sheridan Smith

Sheridan Smith doing her version of Miley Cyrus…

The whole finger-snapping and whistling West Side Story set piece…

The show of hands bit and “shirts and skins.”

Sid learning that Gareth does not practice the “bro code.”

Episode 6:

About Last Knight goes all out with another homage, this one with Sid’s performance a’la Les Mes...where he rouses the peasants to revolt but tells them in graphic detail what will happen when they do and then finds himself all alone at the song’s finale.

The trio of heroes have yet another horse run out of steam and Richard complains about having to eat a family of Hobbits.  Magdalena tries to make Gareth’s birthday special, Galavant and his two followers run into poppa Galavant and Isabella kicks off about having to relinquish her bra to Prince Harry.

Standout Moments:

Sid (Luke Youngblood) and his Les Miserables song…

Wormwood’s firing by Isabella and as Chester (Robert Lindsay) leaves he keeps dispensing advice about the upcoming wedding while simultaneously cursing the princess.

Richard (Timothy Omundson) and his complete inability to “play” with children.

Gareth’s response to Magdalena’s surprise party (he runs through at least three party members).

The pub scene where Gareth cannot pick  fight with anyone.

The Forest of Coincidence.

Honorable Mention:

Daddy Arnold Galavant and his “I stitched them myself.”

Robert Lindsay’s “Crazy war minded monsters” line.

Roberta’s response to Galavant  when he accuses her of “caring about Richard:”

“Love him?”

The “He was There” song; specifically the lyrics;  “gave me all your underwear,  he gave me all the gear he gave to you” and of course, “he’s behind me.”

Overall Thoughts:

Despite the “shock” of Galavant (Joshua Sasse) catching Sid’s thrown sword with his chest, it is a certainty that the hero of this piece will not die.  (At least we hope not, the only thing that could be worse would be if Richard was to be extinguished before chasing that damned unicorn away.)  Still, episode 7 will feature the grim reaper so fans beware…

Galavant airs Sundays on ABC and at two episodes a whack, will not last much longer. Tune in, re-watch the older episodes, and season one while you are at  it, and enjoy this little comedic homage to all things musical.


River: British Television and Brilliance in Six Episodes

Available on American Netflix at the moment, this BBC One drama shows off the best of British television and is sheer brilliance contained in six one hour episodes. River, starring Stellan Skarsgård, Nicola Walker and Lesley Manville follows Detective Inspector John River, a Swedish born copper who has a “Sixth Sense” connection with victims and a dead serial killer who plagues him.

River BBC 1, Netflix,

Available on American Netflix at the moment, this BBC One drama shows off the best of British television and is sheer brilliance contained in six one hour episodes. River, starring Stellan Skarsgård,  Nicola Walker and Lesley Manville follows Detective Inspector John River, a Swedish born copper who has a “Sixth Sense” connection with victims and a dead serial killer who plagues him.

Loosely based upon the Jeff Goldblum 2007 American television series Raines (at least according to IMDb) this six parter is addictive viewing from the very first episode.  Throughout the pilot, right up until River chases a drug dealer to his death, John (Skarsgård) and his female partner “Stevie” (Walker) talk, laugh, joke, and chase the suspect, although she is behind River in the pursuit. After the lad leaps off the high rise balcony, Stevie turns around and faces away from the camera and we learn that  the back of her head is a gaping gunshot wound.

The shock of seeing that the detective has been interacting  with a dead woman immediately fires up the imagination and makes Stellan’s performance something to be in awe of.  Walker’s portrayal of the dead copper is also noteworthy, these two are beyond brilliant together. The storyline, where River tries to catch his partner’s killer, keeps the viewer guessing.

River has three different directors, who helm two episodes apiece and is written by Abi Morgan.  The directors, Richard LaxtonTim Fywell and Jessica Hobbs all move the action and the story along adeptly and the entire experience is compelling to the extreme. 

Skarsgård is infinitely watchable as the detective who “hears voices” and the actor is believable as a cop, from his purposeful stride to the looks of thunder that cross his countenance when angered.  The actor has played a broad range of characters in his career thus far. (He made an excellent villain in The Glass House (2001) where he was actually very impressive as the non-benevolent foster parent.)

Stollen’s performance is captivating and riveting. As is his “dead” co-star Walker. As Stevie, she is funny, irreverent, addictive, puzzling and heart achingly candid.  All of the main characters are touching, in their own ways.

Lesley Manville, as River’s boss Read, is a 50 something career woman who is driven to extremes by her “odd” detective. Owen Teale, as the commander of the precinct, Marcus,  is snarky and annoying, yet still is able to be more human than irritant, although not all the time. 

Marcus’  romantic interest, the unit psychiatrist Rosa Fallows (Georgina Rich) is another multi-level character with shades and nuances that keep her interesting, even before she and River clash repeatedly.

Eddie Marsan (who literally seems to be in everything at the moment) plays the serial killer Dr. Thomas Cream, who haunts DI River throughout the six episodes. A Victorian poisoner, Cream murdered prostitutes with various concoctions, the killer attempts to dredge up the detective’s baser instincts.

The cop not only sees each murder victim, but he also speaks with “live” suspects, as manifestations. Initially, it appears that River has some sort of supernatural connection with the victims, later is is revealed that the cop interjects his own “reality” to each vision he interacts with…or does he?

River is a brilliant bit of detective fiction that borders on the supernatural yet firmly entrenches itself in the psychosis of those who hear voices.  Is it a coincidence that each time the detective sees and hears a “manifestation” the fluorescent lights flicker and buzz?  It is never discussed, by Rosa or anyone else in the show, but the running theme is that River is mentally troubled.

Stevie, in one long diatribe with her former partner, runs down a long list of euphemisms that all stand for insanity;  barking, nutty-nut, March hare and so on. All of Stevie’s family also maintain that River is crazy.

As the episodes head toward a conclusion, one where the detective finds his partner’s killer, it would seem to be a special sort of madness. One that enables the investigator to see things differently and through the eyes, and mind, of the victims help to find the dead some closure.

There are several surrealistic moments, Karaoke, disco songs and a dance in the street with a corpse are just some of the scenes which stick out in this brilliant BBC One offering. River is streaming on American Netflix at the moment and I defy anyone to watch just one episode and not be immediately compelled to watch the six episode season to its finish.

If any complaint could be levied against the series, perhaps the pristine condition of the trains used in the show are a tad unrealistic. After repeatedly using the rail system, including the Underground, I have personally never seen carriages or platforms look that clean or freshly painted and decorated.

Tourist board complaints aside,  River, on Netflix, offers six hours of addictive story telling with characters that are compelling and memorable.  Miss this and miss out on great television.

‘Ray Donovan’ Season Finale: Exsuscito (Recap and Review)


The season three finale of Ray Donovan starts with Avi bringing Paige to Ray’s apartment and Donovan telling Finney’s daughter that he will drop back by “tomorrow.” Paige responds by saying that her father has more helicopters around his house than OJ had covering his 405 white Bronco run.

As Ray goes to leave Paige asks him if he is sure he cannot stay. Donovan says nothing and leaves. Bridget pulls out all stops to get Donellen. Abby goes to the teacher’s house looking for her daughter but no one is home. She is terrified that Ray will kill the math teacher when he finds out about Bridget’s obsession.

Theresa and Bunchy have a midnight treat and go out and Terry tells Ray about Bridget while Abby looks for her.  The brothers get into an argument with Terry accusing Ray of acting like Mickey. Abby comes back, without Bridget and the three of them have a blazing row.

Abby gets a text saying that their daughter is with Mickey and Terry goes to collect her while Ray heads to Donellen’s house. Mrs. Minassian learns of Mickey’s deal with the police. Bridget calls Mickey, who is playing a coke game with the hookers and while she is talking with her grandfather, Donellen shows up at the hotel room.

She tries to get her math teacher to run away with her or to at least stay in the room with her. Theresa takes Bunchy out to the woods to give him some news and the couple have the only real comedic moment in this heavy duty finale.

“This is where I lost my virginity,” she tells Bunchy. There is a slight pause and he replies, “I didn’t know Mexican’s hiked.” With a look that could be instantly lethal, Theresa says:

“I’m gonna pretend you didn’t just f**king say that.”

Terry shows up at Mick’s and asks about Bridget. Mick reveals that she called asking him to cover for her. As he tries to call her back, Ray pulls up outside the El Dorado apartments.  As Mick hangs up, telling Terry that “she’s not answering,” two of Minassian’s thugs begin shooting through the windows with automatic weapons.

Apparently the agreement made by Hasmig in One Night in Yerevan was not enough to save Mick from retaliation.  After the men shoot Terry and Daryll’s “girlfriend,” they leave ducking bullets from Ray, the episode turns into a smaller version of The Wild Bunch. While not quite as  vastly outnumbered as Pike’s gang in the Peckinpah classic, Ray and Avi set out to take on Minassian’s thugs.

Mickey has the same idea and shows up as well. Avi is not pleased.

“Always in the middle of everything this f**king guy!”

Ray’s father goes in gun blazing and the two men join him. There is an intense firefight and on the Armenian side, Mrs. Minassian (Grace Zabriskie) is the last “man” standing. She pours out threats saying that they will eradicate the entire Donovan bloodline. She finishes with curses:

“F**k you, and f**k you and f**k…”

Her rant is cut short by Mick who grabs the mafia leader and slits her throat. As Minassian’s body hits the floor, Mick mutters, “And f**k you.”

During the shootout Ray is shot.  Ray and Mick drive off together. Lena tracks down Bridget and her teacher.  Ray and Mick arrive and after telling Lena to take Mickey to the hospital, Ray heads to the room where Bridget is with Donellen. Ray beats the teacher and tells him if he goes near Bridget again he will cut off his “f**king hands.”

Ray goes off to room 215.

Terry is in hospital and Ray goes to see him after Bridget tells him he is suffocating her. Ray tells his brother that he was right about the way he treats the family. Fearful that Terry is dying, Ray goes to see Father Romero.

Abby sits with Terry in the hospital singing  to the unconscious man as Mickey drives to Reno and Bridget packs her guitar and a few clothes and leaves the house. She walks out leaving the door open behind her.

After telling the priest that he thinks Terry is dying, Romero heads to the confessional. Back at the hospital Terry goes into cardiac arrest as Ray confesses to the priest.  Ray tells Romero that he killed Father O’Connor. After an emotional catharsis where Donovan tells all, the priest drives him back to Los Angeles.

As Ray reclines in the car, The Vampyre of Time and Memory by Queens of Stone Age plays. As the credit’s roll, the city looms in the windscreen of the car.

As finale’s go, this one was not only action packed, it was blood soaked and full of enough angst to sink a battleship.  If Liev Schreiber does not get a gong come Emmy time, something is wrong with the voting system. His performance in the confessional was award winning.  Schreiber manages to evoke emotions so raw and powerful that viewers needed a box of tissue just to get through the scene. 

Eddie Marsan is another who should be getting a nod as well as Kerris Dorsey. Jon Voight manages to impress and proves that he is not getting older but better, if that can be imagined, since the Oscar winning performer is always on top form.

Grace Zabriskie’s Armenian mafia mother was truly out of this world and her “going out” performance was thrillingly done. One could quite imagine Grace’s Mrs. Minassian carrying out her threats from beyond the grave.

Ray Donovan finishes season three with Andrew Finney being turned in by daughter Paige, who is feeling a bit guilty for backing Ray. Bridget has departed for parts unknown and Mickey leaves for Reno after an angry Daryll severs ties with his father. Terry is still alive and it looks like Abby is more than a bit attached to Ray’s brother. Bunchy is going to be a father and Ray is still carrying a bullet.

Daryll breaks ties with Mickey.

Exsuscito,  which translates to awake or awaken, ends a season where it seemed that Ray was about to become very wealthy after the deal he made with Paige Finney. As the third season ends,  it appears that all bets are off.  Ray Donovan  in its third outing was a brilliant roller coaster ride that should satisfy fans until season four starts in 2016.

What a ride.

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