Ray Donovan might just be everyone's favorite new solemn anti-hero, if Showtime's ratings have anything to say about it. Indeed, Ray Donovan's series premiere last night had the biggest debut of any original series for the network ever, drawing 1.35 million viewers. That bests Homeland—"the best drama premiere the cable network had over the previous eight years," according to Deadline's Dominic Patten—which had 1.08 million viewers when it premiered in October 2011. (In case you were wondering, Dead Like Me topped Homeland with 1.11 million viewers in 2003.)
Of course, Ray Donovan had some help. It was buoyed by the 2.5 million people who watched the premiere of Dexter's eighth and final season as a lead-in. Ray Donovan also, you know, arrives at a very dull time for television, and especially for Sunday nights. With Mad Men gone a week earlier, Donovan was really the only appointment-television, prestige drama in its time slot, so people are probably hankering for another moody man with dark secrets and few words. We'd be interested to see how it might stack up against a more meaty non-summer lineup, but this is probably enough to hook viewers for a while, and maybe even a season-two pickup.
Showtime is also touting that 816,000 people watched the show on their On Demand and Showtime Anytime platforms, as Variety's Rick Kissell points out, plus another 870,000 who watched the encore show.
Donovan has gotten generally favorable reviews—though not for the Boston accents—with our Richard Lawson explaining that it "represents another leap forward for the adolescent network." And now the network has a new crown prince—and he's a grumpy Bostonian mired in LA.