Ray Donovan’s pilot episode, “The Bar of The Bat”, was a heavy, humorless, soulless hour of television. Showing off the gaudy and seedy Hollywood landscape that the titular Ray operates in, fixing the problems of wealthy men. Going through all the motions of previous “quality” television shows. Hitting most of the notes one would expect from Showtimes major summer drama. Which didn’t add up to much beyond a dour hour. Liev Schreiber is doing an excellent job as Ray, he is just the cold dead center that holds the show in orbit. “A Mouth is a Mouth” spends more time on the bodies orbiting Ray. In turn “A Mouth is a Mouth” is overall, more entertaining to watch but is still largely hollow.
Much of the humor found in “A Mouth is a Mouth” comes from Grandpa Mickey (Jon Voight). Fresh out of a twenty year stint in prison Mickey is lacking in some of the social cues found in modern society. Such as openly asking his grandson, as he tries on bright red shows, if he is “a fag”. Which isn’t a bad thing, Mickey new several stand up ones in prison. If one of Conor’s friends want to go down on him by all means “a mouth is a mouth.” Just don’t do it from behind, that’s how you get diseases. Conor dryly says thanks and puts on the other shoe. This is one of many scenes where Mickey is reduced to nothing but “Crazy Grandpa” who just says vulgar things and no one really calls him on it. Dropping f-bombs among other things is supposed to be charming and endearing. They just aren’t clever, it’s cursing for the sake of cursing, a good “fuck” has weight to it. None of Mickey’s scenes have weight. Mickey’s actions are embarrassing. These incidents make sense for the rough edges of his character. What doesn't make sense is Abby Donovan(Paula Malcomson) completely brushing these moments off as “Crazy Grandpa”. Ray told her he is a wolf in sheeps clothing, these actions aren’t wolf like but they are certainly reason to not have your kids around him.
Donovan hasn’t been very forthcoming about what kind of evil Mickey poses. Just sideways whispers from him about being a terrible father. The manic dreams of Ray about his suicidal sister. And an old star who is deathly afraid of something Ray fixed, his shooting of his girlfriend while high on Mickey’s cocaine, becoming unfixed. These are broad strokes that don’t point towards any sort of plan, just an excuse to put Jon Voight in the role of Crazy Grandpa. Which is vulgar and meaningless right now
“A Mouth is a Mouth” is deeply concerned with sucking dick. From Mickey and Conor’s shoe shopping. To how Lee, Ray’s boss, expects him to apologise for breaking their clients hand. With the most consistent being the homemade video of the soon to be action star from last week, going to town on a transgender prostitute, Chloe. There are a lot of ways this plot involving Chloe, a girl in a downward spiral trying to fix herself could've gone bad. Brewing up some crazy social media firestorm. Instead it is used to humanize and characterize Ray Donovan in the best way. At his heart Ray Donovan is a good man who wants to do the right thing. The type of guy you want on yourside in a jam. Sometimes this means resorting to violence and physical intimidation to get the point across. Which means threatening Chloe after being very respectful to her scenes prior. Needing to fix things Ray manages to get Chloe the money required to have sex reassignment surgery. It’s a moment that keeps Ray on the side of the angels and isn’t a cynical good guy gesture some executive thinks is needed to keep the audience. The money came from swindling Producer who is just protecting his investment in the film and is a terrible person. Unlike Mickey’s scenes his son’s all follow the same internal logic.
An actor who has done a lot with a little is Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan. Seeing him struggle with his guiding of his recently discover half brother along with the Parkinson's has made Terry the emotional heart of the show for me.
So far, there are two sides to Ray Donovan. The deeply serious stoic silence of Ray and his duties as a fixer and the dark and vulgar comedy found in his family and overall Hollywood setting. These two distinct areas form a venn diagram where sudden explosions of violence always seem to occur. Ray and Avi need to go and make certain a blackmailer is clean, they bust into a low rent porn shoot. Other times it isn’t so funny, with Avi beating Ray’s half-brother,Daryll, stapling a threat to his chest. These moments create a stark contrast to one another without belittling either side.
The Bits At The End
Was the nurse flirting with Terry at the start played by Brooke Smith(Silence of the Lambs, Greys Anatomy)? Looked like it.
So Mickey is some sort of ultimate evil who might not of gone down for the right crime but deserved it nonetheless. Really wish the show revealed some of this evilness because right now he’s just a terrible grandpa.
The Boston accents on this show aren’t very good. I do not know a proper one but I know bad ones and Paula Malcomson is baaaad
Michael Mazzacane can be found on Twitter @MaZZM and at mazzz.net . In both places he wonders if Gus Johnson was right and Anderson Silva vs Cung Le is going to actually happen. How hype is everyone for Pacific Rim? And chasing after his Aunts dogs after they make a sudden break for freedom.