Some familiar faces will be gracing Showtime’s airwaves very soon, as the cable channel has announced that two new dramas, Ray Donovan (starring Liev Schreiber) and Masters of Sex (with Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, above) have both been given full season orders.
For Schreiber, whose long list of film credits includes blockbusters like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Salt and the first three Scream films, Ray Donovan marks the actor’s first foray into a lead role on a TV series. The program is set in present-day Los Angeles, and centers on the titular Ray Donovan (Schreiber), a professional “trouble-shooter” or “fixer,” who has built a reputation amongst the city’s elite as the best person to handle their problems. The plot sounds like Donovan is something of a Michael Clayton type, with his ability to handle the issues of the rich and famous – but considering the series’ family dynamic, it will likely play out differently.
Ray Donovan also sports an impressive supporting cast, featuring Jon Voight (National Treasure) as Mickey, Ray’s ex-con father, and Elliot Gould (Ocean’s 11) as Ray’s mentor and long-time client. Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes) and Dash Mihok (Prime Suspect) play Ray’s brothers Terry and Bunchy, respectively, while The Hunger Games actress Paula Malcomson will play Ray’s wife, Abby.
Showtime also announced it would be ordering a full 12 episodes of the long-gestating, fact-based series Masters of Sex. Based on the book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love, by Thomas Maier, the period drama chronicles the unconventional researchers who went from a Missouri-based teaching hospital to pop-culture figures, appearing on the cover of Time magazine and having several guest spots The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Masters of Sex stars Michael Sheen (Underworld, Midnight in Paris) as William Masters (a role abandoned by Paul Bettany) and Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls, Cloverfield) as Virginia Johnson. While Caplan has appeared in programs like HBO’s True Blood, Sheen is in the same boat as Schreiber, as this will mark his first fulltime television gig.
Shakespeare in Love director John Madden, who will also serve as an executive producer for the series along with creator Michelle Ashford (The Pacific), helmed the pilot for Masters.
Showtime President David Nevins spoke highly of the casting change to Masters, saying, “It couldn’t have worked any better.” He went on to say that both programs “in their own way, are broadening the Showtime brand,” and that Ray Donovan is “a deep and broad show with an incredible cast going 6 and 7 actors deep that has the makings of a great pay cable drama that is gripping, complicated and I think extremely watchable.”
The award-winning success of Homeland certainly altered the landscape of Showtime in regards to its future programs. Now, the network appears to be building on that achievement by adding some diverse-sounding dramas to help wrangle in new viewers and keep those hooked on long-standing crowd pleasers like Dexter. We’ll have to wait until some footage drops before a feel for either series can be developed, but judging by cast alone, both Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex certainly sound promising.
Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex are preparing to film, with their respective premieres intended to be sometime in 2013.