Getting an early peek at the season 3 premiere of Ray Donovan, The Kalamazoo on Showtime, courtesy of Hulu with their special offer, is a great reminder of just what an acting powerhouse that Liev Schreiber really is. A man who started his career playing weird and creepy characters who then played the Gregory Peck role in the remake of The Omen and now plays a sort of Mike Hammer-ish fixer for those with money and power in the city of angels. That Schreiber has got some impressive chops goes without saying. The pedigree of regulars on the show are proof of that.
Academy award winner Jon Voight, as Ray’s father, Brit actor Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, The World’s End) as Terry Donovan, Steven Bauer as Avi to name but three. The show also boasts impressive guest stars like the iconic Ian McShane (Death Race, Case 39, Deadwood), Fairuza Balk (The Craft, Almost Famous) and Katie Holmes in this season opening episode alone. In The Kalamazoo, former season regular Elliot Gould, another Hollywood icon, who played Ezra Goodman, has rather loudly shuffled off his mortal coil while yelling for Ray.
The show has Donovan remembering Goodman, as well as being booted out of the funeral by Deb, and doing what he does best. Ray “Fixes” things for various clients in Los Angeles, at the start of the show he steps in to aid Flip Brightman, played by the excellent Bronson Pinchot, a TV weatherman who keeps “stiffing” the local porn shop’s “glory hole.” The offender gets his penis trapped in the device and Donovan has to pay to get him out.
A very rich Andrew Finney (McShane) hires Ray to get his kidnapped son back and to not pay the $5 million ransom if possible. It appears that his son arranged the abduction himself. Ray’s father Mickey buys a barbecue grill (The Kalamazoo) for the apartment complex and tries to talk Gary, a cowboy hat wearing pimp on moving his business out of the area.
Mickey puts on a party for the people living in the apartments while trying to look out for Ginger, a prostitute with a young daughter who wants to be an actor. Gary beats up on the mother and insults Ray’s father, not understanding just how dangerous the man really is. By the end of the show, the pimp pays for his stupid cruelty with his life.
Ray gets back Finney’s son and saves the man from paying the ransom. A priest, who stopped by Ezra’s room at the start of the show, collects some files and looks to be a man who will be reappearing in season 3.
Watching the season premiere, it is easy to see why the first two seasons of Ray Donovan was nominated for and won awards. The show is gritty and somber. The characters feel real; damaged and seedy and not a little frightening. Ray is a hard man who feels as though he would not be out of place in Raymond Chandler’s LA.
The writing of the show is such that one can step in at the start of season three and not feel lost. Regardless of whether one knew who Ezra was, or just why Ray is estranged from his wife, enough information could be gleaned from the script to follow the events in the episode easily.
Ray Donovan is a Showtime production and is available via Hulu as an upgrade. This is a cracking show with a hard edge and one that drama lovers will appreciate.