SINGAPORE - Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is a professional "fixer" for the rich and famous in Hollywood.
When a sports star finds a dead woman in his bed and another celeb, an action-film star, is rumoured to be gay, he fixes it so that the movie dude gets linked to the overdosed girl and dispels the gay gossip, and the sports guy sneaks off. Just like that, both of his clients' problems are solved.
"You think you're the first person I've dealt with who woke up in bed with a dead body?" he assures his panicking client in the opening episode.
You know these fixers - they are the emergency handlers and damage-control experts (Kerry Washington in Scandal, Alan Cumming in The Good Wife), the anti-heroes who condone and contain misdeeds and wrongdoings without so much as a blip or drop of sweat on their foreheads.
Inwardly, though, they are more vulnerable. Ray, as portrayed by Schreiber with a quiet but hectic menacing air of thug-husband-parent, hates his dad Mickey (Jon Voight) enough to want to kill him.
Schreiber is terrific, but Voight, in a careerreviving role, is so good as the Prodigal Dad that his performance is reason enough to watch the show.
The 74-year-old plays Mickey as dangerous, vulgar and creepy (the man shoots a priest in the first episode), sniffing drugs and chasing tail.
He is also funny and rascally when he works himself into Ray's family like the cool teddy bear-grandpa everybody loves after a 20-year prison sentence he blames his son for.
To do this Sopranos Without Spaghetti, creator Ann Biderman milks every Irish stereotype, landscape and villain-scape imaginable, from boozers to boxers in a gym to old gangsters to corrupt cops to wayward priests.