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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Ray Donovan

Showtime, June 30, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


In this superbly tawdry new crime series, Liev Schreiber plays Ray Donovan, a fixer-enforcer doing dirty work—much of it Hollywood related—for a prestigious L.A. law firm. As Donovan moves through marbled mansions and fleabag apartments, his unsmiling face, covered by stubble that’s both fashionable and threatening, is as inexpressively alert as a Doberman’s. He’s fine so long as he doesn’t bite. But he will bite. He’ll snap your arm in the pocket of a pool table. Ray’s moral compass actually points true north even as his violent behavior is all over the map, but Schreiber—who with his expensive tailored suits and unflappable cool suggests a Don Draper of the underworld – conveys this with barely a word: The rectitude is all in his stiffening spine and shoulders.

The thing is, Ray has a problem he can’t fix: His rotten old man, Mickey (Jon Voight), has just gotten out of prison in Boston and flown out West, where he worms his way into Ray’s family and starts stirring up trouble. Voight makes a terrific adversary: A poisonous blowhard, he wants revenge—Ray was involved in his arrest – and maybe more. The fact that Voight sounds like a wheezy Donald Trump only adds to the fun.


Showtime, June 30, 9 p.m. ET/PT |



One of TV’s unlikeliest classics – a thriller about a serial killer who’s as sweetly forlorn as Casper the ghost – Dexter starts its eighth, last season on an ingenious note. Miami Homicide is visited by a brilliant psychiatrist (Charlotte Rampling) who quickly latches onto blood-spatter analyst Dex (Michael C. Hall). In addition to throwing out unnerving theories about serial killers and evolution, she gives him shocking insight into his history. As an actress, Rampling is so cool and inward the show sometimes loses heat, but she’s also ineffably sinister. Meanwhile Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) has gone to pieces – big, sloppy chunks – because of her complicity in his secret life. This could all pay off spectacularly.