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Domenick Lombardozzi as Sean "Mac" McGrath in RAY DONOVAN (Season 6, Episode 07, "The 1-3-2"). - Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: RAYDONOVAN_607_439.R.jpg Domenick Lombardozzi as Sean "Mac" McGrath in RAY DONOVAN (Season 6, Episode 07, "The 1-3-2"). - Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: RAYDONOVAN_607_439.R.jpg

Ray Donovan

Requiem for Mac: How Domenick Lombardozzi won Ray Donovan fans

Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

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Domenick Lombardozzi’s Mac went full circle on Ray Donovan, illustrating the fragility of the human mind to the ebb and flow of fleeting emotional state.

All it takes is one crummy day or disheartening phone call in Mac’s case for the strongest of exteriors to collapse, their hourglass reversing to empty in seconds. Imagine officer Sean ‘Mac’ McGrath pulling Ray Donovan out of the East River, saving a life against the will of its owner, literally kicking and screaming. In fact, getting rewarded with a few brute punches to the noggin along the way for his troubles… Yet, staying true to the honorable duty he swore to uphold, hand to heart. Staten Island’s finest.

Then envision the same man, broken beyond repair, sitting alone and destitute in his car, emotionally bankrupt. Momentarily contemplating the work required to push his ex-wife’s relationship back uphill to ever see his son again… Before finally letting go of the behemoth stone without opposition. Allowing the increscent moon-sized rock carrying life’s ever increasing troubles to roll backwards, crushing him in the process. Exiting the equation forever with a singular shot heard in the distance outside of a cheapo, rinky-dink motel’s forsaken parking lot.

Domenick Lombardozzi’s dynamite portrayal of Mac on Ray Donovan left a permanent mark on both Ray’s family and the show’s gallery of Sunday spectators. Bridget makes note of it when she tells her emotionally tormented father that she ‘doesn’t want him to end up like his friend in a parking lot.’ Mac’s untimely demise was a warning shot to Ray’s psyche, a foreshadowing of a yet to be written chapter in his life if he doesn’t obtain the necessary help. The side-by-side juxtaposition of Ray’s leap and Mac’s final juncture boldly unavoidable, always able to save everyone but themselves. Mac had told Ray, “We could have been brothers in another life,” in this case Mac representing the older brother from which to take in example from.

Symphonies of Acting Art by Domenick Lombardozzi

Domenick Lombardozzi’s interpretation of Mac, a regular ‘Joe’ on the surface, is anything but. Lombardozzi delievered a dauntingly complex performance of a man with the comforting, secure outwards nature of a bulldog internally dueling with the realities of being an officer. The job that became his identity ultimately consumed him and by extension, his family. Year by year chipping away until the way Ray met him, living by himself eating his son’s birthday cake in a drab room flush of life.

At the same time, Mac’s universal appeal comes from a genuine place of heart. A man’s man enjoying a good game of baseball on the tube with a pal, drinking a pint at his local pub, and owning an undying loyalty to those sacred to him… Even during the turbulent times when they despise everything he represents. The valor of silent masculinity much like Ray.

Opening Sonata: “Walk Away Ray”

A three word phrase that would become the hallmark of Mac’s captivating run on Showtime’s Ray Donovan. The first movement of Mac’s symphony featured this bluntly direct warning to Ray outside in the broad daylight of a police precinct. As is often the case when one tells someone else not to do something, they’re even more aptly motivated to do the opposite. Mac’s overture had no immediate effect on Ray, despite its reliable source.

“Walk Away Ray” would ominously serve as a source of pressure to the viewer, hooking them in through Lombardozzi’s exemplary delivery. Even without audio like the animation above, the story is told in Mac’s eyes without one audible word.

Adagio: “I can’t remember the last time I felt good”

When it comes to the Adagio slow-tempoed descent of the second movement, no scene stands out like Mac’s outward monologue with Bridget as his audience. The portrait of an individual juggling the consequences of past sins with his latest… Being indirectly forced to be an accomplice to the kidnapping of his best friend’s daughter to protect his own family. In this sequence rife with tension and the white noise of a movie from times past, the audience witnesses Mac’s final introspective plunge.

From the constant apologizing to Bridget Donovan for what he’s done, bargaining with her that they’ll take his family too if he doesn’t do what they tell him. “I don’t care what happens to me.” Then arrives the most brutal line, “I can’t remember the last time I felt good,” with the man legitimately trying to remember. Tears welled up in his eyes. Every ounce of the sentence is felt, the sorrow of a real human being who’s lost their way, stuck on a linear path despite their original hopes and dreams.

Scherzo: “You were the only one who ever thought I was worth something.”

The final uplifting moment in Mac’s story is the scherzo, an attempt at redemption for a lifetime of diverting from the person he was on the inside. Mac returns Bridget to Ray knowing it symbolizes the end of a ‘normal’ life, forever a target on his family’s back as leverage against him. Mac earnestly comments that Ray was, ‘The only one who ever believed he was worth something,’ and, ‘We could have been brothers in another life.’ Recalling again the notion of the linear path, pre-determined circumstances out of both Mac and Ray’s control. Mac’s raw honesty akin to the days of one’s youth, before the competition of adulthood demanded a stern mask. One without a public display of weakness at any avenue.

Allegro: Celebrating the life of Sean ‘Mac’ McGrath

Domenick Lombardozzi’s first-class performance as officer Sean ‘Mac’ McGrath was one of the many superb, regal highlights of Ray Donovan’s sixth season. Every audience member was left with the feeling of, ‘Gone too soon,’ upon his departure despite seeing the writing on the wall in that parking lot. The reverie of the esteemed man who rescued Ray Donovan from certain death in the season’s premiere. Forever intertwining Ray’s life with his as brothers, eventually to his detriment. When he pulled Ray out of the East River that day, he never left its depths.

Be sure to watch my interview with Mickey Donovan himself, Jon Voight, at last year’s Tribeca TV Festival!

Nir Regev is the founder of The Natural Aristocrat. You can directly contact him at nir.regev@thenaturalaristocrat.com for coverage consideration, interview opportunties, or general comments.

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Ray Donovan

Liev Schreiber gives hope to Ray Donovan fans on Instagram

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Ray Donovan may continue - Photo Credit: Liev Schreiber's Instagram
Photo Credit: Liev Schreiber's Instagram

Liev Schreiber gave Ray Donovan fans hope on Wednesday night, writing on Instagram that “It’s too soon to say how or when, but with a little luck and your ongoing support, there will be more Ray Donovan.”

Ray Donovan’s cancellation may be on ice at Showtime after fan outcry on social media and Change.org Petitions for Season 8. Liev Schreiber took to Instagram to tell fans that “their voices have been heard” and with continued support and luck, Ray Donovan might get the ending fans, cast, and crew all deserve. Instead of the last symbolic image Ray Donovan fans would have now, Ray with a shovel burying someone six feet under (no spoilers!).

Schreiber even subtly referenced fans as the Fixer this time around, commenting “To all the Donofans who got their bats and beat the odds. Thank you” A miraculous resurrection on Showtime would prove the strength viewers wield today with their subscriptions, and really their wallets. There’s endless entertainment content to be had today on countless competitors, so every ounce of fan goodwill counts more than ever.

Of course, Schreiber’s message didn’t necessarily say that should Ray Donovan continue it would 100% be on Showtime. There’s still the chance the series will move to a Netflix or other streaming platform ala Designated Survivor but it seems unlikely on Showtime’s side. It’s the perfect PR storm on behalf of Showtime to bring Ray Donovan back on their network and show their subscribers how important they truly are. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

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Thank you. @raydonovan @showtime #finishstrong

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The first hints that perhaps the Ray Donovan cancellation decision was could be on ice came on February 5th… Showrunner David Hollander did an interview with Vulture’s Brian Tallerico, where Hollander commented, “The sets are still standing. The people are still contracted. The mechanisms are in place.”

Seemed like Hollander was alluding to Ray Donovan not being 100% finito yet. Hollander also cited the expensive cost of shooting in NY as a big factor. Does that mean that if a Season 8 does occur, the series will return to Los Angeles? It did sure seem ominous when Bridget Donovan wanted to move back to LA with Smitty…

Check out more series coverage in the Ray Donovan category section including exclusive interviews with Sandy Martin on Sandy Patrick and Bill Heck on Young Mickey Donovan at The Natural Aristocrat.

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Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan fans start Petitions to bring series back for Season 8

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Ray Donovan - (L-R): Kerris Dorsey as Bridget Donovan and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in RAY DONOVAN, "You'll Never Walk Alone". Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME

Ray Donovan fans have opened multiple Petitions on Change.org imploring Showtime or even Netflix to resurrect the series from its still-fresh cancellation for Season 8.

Ray Donovan fans will not let cancellation happen without a fight, they will “not go gentle into that good night.” Paraphrasing poet Dylan Thomas. Five separate petitions have sprung up on Change.org, some demanding Showtime keep the series alive for at least a final eighth season… Others looking ahead to a Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime move. Of course, the chance Showtime would give a cornerstone brand of their network to Netflix (last season or not) or any other competing streaming brand is probably a long shot. * All currently running petition links available later in this article.

Showrunner David Hollander potentially ignited this petitioning spark in a recent interview with Vulture’s Brian Tallerico, where Hollander commented that he “would never say never” about doing the series somewhere else. Adding, “The sets are still standing. The people are still contracted. The mechanisms are in place.” Thus, Ray Donovan fans are trying to make something happen before those sets are torn down and the actors involved move on to other projects. As Jim Carrey once famously said as Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?!”

‘Bring back Ray Donovan’ Petitions:

Showtime, Bring back Ray Donovan for Season 8 – 2,046 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Marana Coluccio, started 4 days ago

Petition for Showtime/Netflix to bring Ray Donovan back for 8th Season!!! – 1,934 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Eric Cox, started 1 week ago

Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu pick up Ray Donovan for final season – 827 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Allison Massimini, started 1 week ago

DO NOT CANCEL RAY DONOVAN – 272 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Jacqueline Herrera, started 1 week ago

Bring Back Ray Donovan For Series Ending Season 8 – 27 signed at time of this article’s publishing
Created by Mark Uliano, started 1 week ago

Exploring factors that may have led to the series’ cancellation:

Be sure to read Stained Lullaby: The end of Ray Donovan, why great shows are canceled for an in-depth analysis of the show’s declining ratings and how key cast members like Paula Malcomson (Abby Donovan) departing may have ultimately contributed to the series’ cancellation.

Another contributing factor? Reportedly, production costs. The same thing that is said to have led to the original demise of HBO’s Deadwood, one of television’s greatest shows. Showrunner David Hollander mentioned in the Vulture interview (Published Feb. 5th) that there were expensive costs for running the series, particularly the move to New York City. “To be fair to our bosses, Ray Donovan, for the Showtime model, was a very expensive show.”

Check out more series coverage in the Ray Donovan category section including exclusive interviews with Sandy Martin on Sandy Patrick and Bill Heck on Young Mickey Donovan at The Natural Aristocrat.

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Ray Donovan

Stained Lullaby: The end of Ray Donovan, why great shows are canceled

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Ray Donovan - (L-R): Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan and Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan in RAY DONOVAN, "An Irish Lullaby". Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Jeff Neumann/SHOWTIME

The writing was on the wall the moment Ray Donovan’s cast publicly appealed to fans on social media to lobby Showtime to keep the series going. If Ray Donovan of all people needs someone else to be a Fixer, all is lost. Cancelation was already imminent and underway.

If you’ve been following the TV industry for any length of time, you know ratings and social media numbers are the defacto judge and jury. When those numbers fail to exhibit much-worshipped growth for an extended period, the series will meet its executioner via guillotine in short order. There is no escaping this symbiotic waltz. No critical acclaim or eyewitness testimony of prior good deeds/scenes can rescue from the fate of the public square.

Thus, when cast members of any show, not just Ray Donovan rally the troops for one last run, consider it a last stand. The Alamo. Sure, once in a blue moon, the strategy works and a series gets to live on borrowed time like Designated Survivor did for one more season on a different platform or network… But it’s typically staving off the inevitable cancellation if the numbers were already dwindling.

A good portion of the gavel is a simple game of math. Showtime’s Homeland made it to a final season not because it was an objectively better show than Ray Donovan but because it was able to maintain its numbers over a 1 rating consistently. Homeland has not dipped under a 1 rating for more than three episodes of its entire run, a pretty remarkable achievement. Family Guy lived on because of exceptional DVD sales after its initial cancellation, Last Man Standing was averaging high ratings still on ABC when it got the axe and FOX was always its parent company.

Despite Ray Donovan’s consistent output of excellent writing and acting, the series genuinely seemed to never fully recover in the ratings department after Abby’s character death. Paula Malcomson’s impact and dedicated fanbase can’t be understated, in fact, her departure from the series may have led to its end. Some may argue it was the move to New York narratively. But it was the logically place to go to soft reboot the series after Ray lost Abby. A universal concept of ‘getting away from it all’ after losing a loved one.

Ray Donovan’s opening Season 6 episodes were a thing of beauty even if you had never watched the series before. Domenick Lombardozzi as Mac was a perfect new addition alongside Ray and you had Hollywood royalty in Susan Sarandon as Samantha Winslow continuing on a series regular. The scripts were must see TV. Yet, Ray Donovan’s sixth season slipped under a 1 rating until episode six “A Girl Named Maria” (1.05 rating)…

Let’s be a bit more generous and count episode 5 “Ellis Island” which scored a 0.99 according to Show Buzz Daily, that’s still close to midway through the season. The show would once again slip below a 1 for episodes nine (0.93 rating) and ten (0.95 rating). The warning signs were in place. Perhaps, had Mac lived on another season, numbers would have gradually improved as the character was much loved on social media.

However, Ray Donovan’s seventh season opened under a 1 (0.91 rating) and only hit over it three times all season (1.00, 1.02, 1.05). Just enough to make Showtime consider giving the long running series another chance but apparently not enough to grant it. Ray Donovan’s Season 7 Finale scored a 0.12 in the coveted 18-49 department according to Show Buzz Daily, that’s #52nd for cable shows that evening. Behind Lego Jurassic World on Nickelodeon and ‘Naked and Afraid: Alone’ on Discovery Channel.

Mike Tyson Mysteries in comparison on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block scored a 0.37 in the 18-49 demographic and came in sixth. Starting to get the brutal, icy picture of what happened? Remember, if actors are appealing to an audience they likely already know something the audience doesn’t. It would have taken Ray Donovan trending #1 on Twitter for a few days at the very least to fight off the cancellation reaper.

Truly, when is the last time you really remember a cast appealing publicly and fortunes being reversed? It certainly did not work for Lodge 49. A public plea is almost like a kiss of death to a Television series, a surefire warning signs thing are even worse behind the scenes than imagined. The castle has been infiltrated, and there’s not enough firepower to fight them all off. Before you know it, another excellent show is buried before its time.

Notice earlier, it’s mentioned a good portion is numbers. A hearty slice, not the entire pie. It’s not necessarily all black and white, hard math. Even raw numbers aren’t always enough. 24’s original run was canceled with a 9.31 rating for its eighth season finale. Married with Children’s close to end of Season 11 two-parter hit a 15.20. Yet, their overall ratings at the time were still considered ‘declining.’ It’s all relative. They would be an advertiser goldmine today in the age of streaming. One of the greatest TV shows of all time in Deadwood, once got cancelled due to budgeting concerns.

Don’t underestimate how an executive board’s subjective pen can change the entire fate of a show or network either. Just don’t bring critical merit into the equation. Merit never had anything to do with why a show lives or dies.

Be sure to read The Natural Aristocrat’s interview with Sandy Martin on Sandy Patrick, interview with Bill Heck on Young Mickey Donovan, and more series coverage in the Ray Donovan category section.

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