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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 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

Ray Donovan

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

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 de facto 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.


Ray Donovan

Smitty’s Inferno: Death by Donovan



Graham Rogers as Smitty in RAY DONOVAN, "You'll Never Walk Alone". Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME.
Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME

Eyes soft & spongy, lips pulled over the face, an airway reduced to that of a straw. Smitty collapses on granite, a mistaken bullet finding the wrong residence. An accidental home invasion with no insurance. The mind races helplessly to reset one hour back but finds time only moving forward. Caught in the 9 circles of Donovan.

This article contains spoilers for Ray Donovan Season 7.

The future is always bright on paper. Smitty’s wife had just held onto his hand again like the day they walked down the aisle at City Hall. Tomorrow was a canvas slathered with the dazzling neon-paint of Los Angeles and fond memories. A reverie soaked in nostalgia of when everyday was made of the sweetest licorice and a relationship bloomed effortlessly. Yet, revisiting the past is rarely the same the second time around.

Smitty will never have the license to steer towards that realization. He’ll never even arrive at his wife’s prescribed cure-all destination. Instead just like his grandfather-in-law before him, Smitty’s brief happiness will be sullied and debased. A future in his grasp, fingertips length, that can never be reached. Look but don’t touch, imagine but don’t clutch. Each Donovan quick fix, every patch on the 50-year old rusty pipe, was always bound to spring another leak… Until the resulting flood sank its teeth into another victim like a Python, head struggling under water. This time, it was Smitty’s turn. Submerged by the family he married into.

(L-R): Josh Hamilton as Kevin Sullivan, Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan and Graham Rogers as Smitty in RAY DONOVAN, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME.

Play the blame game. Blame Declan, Mickey, Daryll, Bridget, Ray, Smitty himself. Everyone shared a part, no one’s truly innocent, no one’s hands are clean… But no finger point will bring Smitty back. No matter where it’s extended. Smitty’s last moments were spent lying in the middle of the road, face up, staring at his real presumed future. Abandoned.

Collateral damage in the crossfire of a war he was drafted into and never signed up for. Blood streaming from his neck with no end in sight. Smitty’s so-called family turn into onlooking voyeurs. All collectively suffering from the Bystander effect. The fresh bouquet of flowers Smitty purchased for Bridget escaping his iron grip. Now, newly loose as spaghetti.

Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan in RAY DONOVAN, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/SHOWTIME.

Mickey momentarily picks up the flowers, body fully tensed, tuned into fight or flight mode. The last remnants of Smitty’s hopes and dreams in Mickey’s hands. He chooses flight. Dumping the bouquet on the ground unceremoniously. Escaping Smitty’s misfortune to save himself, like every time before. Fleeing guilt itself. Each petal forsaken to its fate. Deserted on the fields of battle. After ‘Treachery’ comes the 10th circle, Donovan.

Be sure to read Smitty’s big decision on Ray Donovan: Would you do the same? and A father playing favorites leads to Ray Donovan tragedy: Brother vs Brother. Check out more coverage in the Ray Donovan Articles section!

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Ray Donovan

Liev Schreiber gives hope to Ray Donovan fans on Instagram



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 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

A post shared by Liev Schreiber (@lievschreiber) on

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



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 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, 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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