'Ray Donovan' Producer on Season 2: 'Audience Will Be Thrilled' (Q&A)

Mark Gordon tells THR the Showtime series has upped the ante: "If you thought the lives of our characters were complicated and difficult last year, just wait."

Producer Mark Gordon is gearing up for Sunday's season-two debut of Ray Donovan.

He says the latest outing of the Showtime drama, which stars Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight, ups the ante significantly.

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"We pick up where we ended last year and very quickly create other problems and obstacles and difficulties," Gordon tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Here Gordon talks avoiding the sophomore slump and why creator Ann Biderman being a "perverse-minded human being" is the show's greatest asset.

What can we look forward to in the new season?

If you thought the lives of our characters were complicated and difficult last year, just wait. I think it was Al Jolson who said, "You ain't seen nothing yet." I think it's going to be a really exciting season and that the audience will be thrilled about where we are headed.

What were the conversations like surrounding season two?

You always want to make sure that you don't have a sophomore slump. It's always tough when you have a successful first season. There's a lot of expectation from the audience and you want to live up to that expectation and exceed it. We tried to make sure that we were honoring what we started in terms of the relationships and the characters and the way they related to each other, and to also make sure we were bringing new elements in and creating new problems for Ray (Schreiber) and for Mickey (Voight) and for the family. We pick up where we ended last year and very quickly create other problems and obstacles and difficulties, all of which stem from the original dilemmas that they faced in the pilot. The relationship between Ray and Mickey, the rest of the family, the problems that go on in the marriage. All of those things people can relate to and also appreciated in the first season.

Did you know this show would be well received?

When we were developing the show, I really felt that we had a great script and everything starts with that. You never know what is going to excite an audience, but if something really excites you as you are working on it, that's a good sign. Ann Biderman, who created it and is our showrunner, has this wild imagination and anything goes.

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It's very L.A.-centric. How do you ensure people all over the country buy into this world?

Showtime was concerned. What we didn't want to do was make another L.A. private eye show. We felt this was more than anything a show about a family, like most great television shows are. We weren't going for Entourage. It has proven itself to be a show about the Donovan family more than it's about what Ray does every week. Both last year and in the coming year, it focuses on Ray's own dilemmas and the dilemmas that are facing his family.

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You produce long-running shows such as Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds. Does knowing Ray can't last 10 seasons affect your game plan?

Ann is a really terrific showrunner and a great, perverse-minded human being. The stuff that comes out of her brain and the work she does with the other writers is really remarkable. I don't want to make any predictions, but we think this season will be really good — so we aren't thinking this will be our last year. Cable shows don't necessarily run 10 years, but a successful cable show can hope for upwards of five seasons.

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You have your hand in a lot of shows. How do you find time to sleep?

When you have Shonda Rhimes as your partner, it's easy to sleep at night. Criminal Minds has been running for 10 seasons and (showrunner) Erica Messer, and Ed Bernero before her, are spectacular. And with this show, Ann Biderman is magnificent. As a nonwriting producer, what you hope for in a partner is somebody who not only has a great creative mind, but also has the ability to get the shows out every week.

Ray Donovan airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on Showtime.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch

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