No one has worse summers than Ray Donovan.
The bad news for him: “Ray Donovan” just got the go-ahead from Showtime for a fifth season -- which means next summer figures to be another season of stressful, sleepless nights and sudden violence for Ray.
That’s good news for the rest of us who are now halfway through our own summer season with “Ray Donovan” -- the show’s fourth, and possibly best, season so far.
This summer, Ray has been dealing mainly with his father’s imprisonment following his -- Mickey’s -- false confession that he massacred a group of eight Armenian gangsters last season all by himself. The truth was that Ray was there with him and committed at least half of the killings.
Now Mickey is in danger from a contract killer hired by the Armenians who has managed to book himself into the same jailhouse. Ray’s mission: To prove to the authorities that Mickey is gay and therefore eligible to be moved to the jail’s protective-custody wing.
So this season, “Ray Donovan” is not only violent, but also comedic -- a sign of maturity and self-assurance for any TV show of this type that has made it through four seasons.
This summer, “Ray Donovan” is the best show on TV. In fact, almost nothing else comes to mind that even comes close to it. This week, Showtime announced the show will be back next year for a fifth season at the ongoing Summer TV Press Tour in California.
The announcement is great news for “Ray Donovan” fans, but it also takes the edge off the current season at least a wee bit. Now we know (or at least assume) that Ray will somehow avoid being killed this season. How he’ll manage this feat -- again -- will be the focus now.
We might also assume that the rest of the Donovan family will be back too. This assumption is based on the fact that there’s been no discernible news or rumor emanating from the show that any of the show’s cast is angling for a way out.
Among them is Jon Voight, who gets my now-annual vote as the actor giving the best performance anywhere on television this year. He plays the opportunistic career criminal Mickey Donovan, and he steals every scene he’s in, which is no mean feat in a show with such a rich and talented cast of actors.
Through it all, Ray himself maintains his traditional scowl and three-day growth of unshaven beard. In a recent episode, he committed a very gruesome murder from very close range and didn’t flinch when the blood and tissue splattered all over his face and clean white shirt.
The scene led to the usual questions all “Ray Donovan” fans have from time to time: What is Ray anyway? A sadist? A family man? A maniac? A cool-headed professional or emotionless psychopath?
We may or may not ever learn the answers to these questions, but we’ll have at least a fifth season next summer to try and figure him out.
“Ray Donovan” airs Sunday nights at 9 Eastern on Showtime.