‘Ray Donovan’: Best Drama Series Emmy nomination after past bids by Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight?

The fourth season of “Ray Donovan” debuts June 26, the day before online voting for Emmy nominations ends. TV academy members, who will be considering season three which aired last summer, will be seeing lots of ads for this Showtime crime drama during voting which kicks off June 13. Liev Schreiber, who plays the title character, was nominated last year while supporting player Jon Voight contended in 2014. Will “Ray Donovan” score its first Best Drama Series bid this year?

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Season three — which saw more troubles for the titular Hollywood fixer —  won warm praise from critics. On Metacritic, the show boasts a solid score of 71 while on Rotten Tomatoes it merits a healthy 77. Many of the nation’s leading TV critics have heaped praise on the show. Ken Tucker (Yahoo TV) says, “‘Ray Donovan’ continues to hold up awfully well in its third season” while Mark A. Perigard (Boston Herald) finds it, “remains a potent mix of pathos and dark comedy.” And Matt Roush (TV Insider) notes the show, “once again instantly engrosses with its vision of flawed humanity in a tainted paradise.”

There is plenty of precedent for a series to score its first top Emmy bid in season three. Among those for which third time was the charm: “Big Love,” “Boston Legal,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Two and a Half Men.”

There is one open slot in Best Drama Series with the departure of four-time winner “Mad Men.” Reigning champ “Game of Thrones” should easily be back, as will “Better Call Saul,” “Downton Abbey,” and “House of Cards.” However, both the aging “Homeland” and “Orange is the New Black,” which took a deep nose dive in total nominations for its second season (from 12 to four), could be on shaky ground.

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Schreiber lost the Best Drama Actor race last year to Jon Hamm who finally prevailed for “Mad Men.” Schreiber had contended back in 2000 in Best Movie/Miniseries Actor for playing Orson Welles in “RKO 281”; he lost then to Jack Lemmon (“Tuesdays with Morrie”). He’s racked up three straight Golden Globe nominations for “Ray Donovan” as well as a Critics’ Choice bid earlier this year. It can’t hurt that he was heavily on the awards circuit a few months ago for his well-received supporting role in “Spotlight,” this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture.

Any new fans who sampled the third season of “Ray Donovan” were treated to some of Schreiber’s most emotional work of the series. That’s especially true in the season finale, where the normally-stoic Ray breaks down while confessing to killing the priest who’d molested him as a child. All of these reasons add up to make him a strong contender for his second straight Emmy nomination. Gold Derby experts Don Kaplan (NY Daily News), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Roush, Michael Schneider (Indiewire) and Gold Derby’s own Paul Sheehan are predicting him to return.

And how about Voight, who plays Ray’s father/nemesis Mickey Donovan? The Oscar winner (“Coming Home,” 1978) won a Golden Globe in 2013 for the first season of “Ray Donovan” to add to his three for films (Most Promising Newcomer, 1969; “Coming Home,” 1978; “Runaway Train,” 1985). In season three, the audience saw more of Mickey’s tender side as he played a grandfather figure to a prostitute’s young daughter. He also got to show off his cunning character when he checkmated his son’s attempts to do away with him. And we got the most graphic glimpse yet into Mickey’s violent nature in the bloody season finale. While he was snubbed by the Emmys last year, he could stage a comeback.

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