Review Ray Donovan Episode 8, Season II “Sunny”

The series Ray Donovan is a real find with visual textures that take the Soprano’s into 2014, and similarly-styled plot distancing that comes together in an effective and powerful way.

The theme of “Sunny” (the episode) is actually how the song brings some light to a very dark chunk of this series, but there are also parallels to the family structure – sons and fathers – so it could also be called “Sonny” – which is the double entendre at play throughout.

Ray Donovan’s dad is ex-con Mickey Donovan, actor Jon Voight looking more together than his haggard appearance as Jim Phelps in the 1996 film version of TV’s Mission Impossible. 18 years later he looks just as old, but more effective here — and he appears to model the image to what an older version of boxer Irish Mickey Ward might look like. So there’s the dynamic with “fixer” son Ray Donovan, played brilliantly by Liev Schreiber and his low-life daddy played by Jon Voight as well as the Rap mogul mentor-father figure Re-Kon (Kwame Anderson) and his protege 15-year old surrogate “son” (played by 18 year old Octavius J. Johnson) named Marvin Gaye Washington.

In as blatant a fashion as you can get, the song “Sunny” is performed as a rap, not over Bobby Hebb’s hit tune, but over a rare version by Marvin Gaye’s which originally appeared on the Marvin Gaye boxed set, only the one used on Ray Donovan is in its “Mercury Mix” form – remixed by Mercury* (a duo) as the Mercury Mix II – hear it here:

To reiterate, you have the “professionally(not legally) adopted son” of a rap mogul utilizing Marvin Gaye’s rare version of “Sunny” – the Mercury Mix, to create a new rendition of the classic Bobby Hebb tune by actor Octavius J. Johnson. Hopefully it will be on the market soon.

For those not familiar with the show, the twists and turns make a scorecard mandatory, quick cuts and multiple vignettes converging, long shots cradled in extensive pauses infiltrate episode 8, which one critic notes is chock full of telephone conversations between the protagonist and supporting cast…as well as the supporting cast with each other.

Having Eliot Gould, Jon Voight, Peter Jacobson, Liev Shreiber, Kwame Anderson and Steven Bauer and Richard Benjamin (as film producer Jerry) – all familiar faces – in one program means the acting is reliable and, like the Sopranos, very believable.

It’s a good find tucked away on one of the cable networks, Showtime, and worth seeking out. There’s a Kathy Bates-styled woman handing out checks and advice to Ray Donovan, all cheeky and fun in a dark way. But the inclusion of Bobby Hebb’s signature tune is a welcome addition to television, and a great song to build a theme around.

SPOILER ALERT: don’t read what comes next unless you’ve seen the program already:

The producers/writers/director appear to have intentionally used Marvin Gaye’s version of the song “Sunny” as the character was called “Marvin Gaye Washington” and they have the 2nd “surrogate” father, Cookie, shoot him, probably a reference to Marvin Gaye’s death at his father’s hand

Airtimes for “Sunny” episode of Ray Donovan

S2 Ep 8: Sunny:
Upcoming Airings (All Times ET/PT):
Thu, Sep 04, 11:30 PM
Fri, Sep 05, 9:00 PM
Sat, Sep 06, 12:35 AM
Sat, Sep 06, 8:00 PM
Sun, Sep 07, 1:20 AM
Sun, Sep 07, 8:00 PM
Sat, Sep 13, 9:00 PM
Sun, Sep 28, 3:00 PM

Information on Mercury
Bern is a picturesque but marginal town in the center of Switzerland. However, the provincial town, by the way the legal capital of the country, has some serious assets – it is home to the likes of Deetron, the Round Table Knights and the up and coming Mercury.
Mercury is Mel, a former hip-hop DJ and shoemaker-to-be, and Simon, an educated children’s teacher and drummer to the francophone pop-star Stephan Eicher. The duo’s skills and frank approach to house music were first discovered by the world-acclaimed Dutch illustrator and Le Le member Parra, who invited the Swiss producing duo to create a remix of his band’s second single »Breakfast«. Frenetically supported by Pedro “Busy P” Winter, the remix ultimately became a true dance floor hit during 2009.

Mercury (Switzerland) would like to share their newest edit with you. A heart-warming track for welcoming the morning sun and collectively praising the joy of life. “Our man Rampa from Keinemusik dropped it when the first sun rays poured into the legendary window front of Berlin’s Watergate Club. A beautiful notion, no? We would have loved to be there”.

Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for,, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.