New TV show ‘Rake’ brings in audiences

By David Combest

February 11, 2014

Television audiences who enjoy programs about lawyer drama are in for quite a unique show this spring with the new program “Rake.” It’s an American spinoff of the successful Australian show with the same name.

“Rake”, starring Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear, debuted on FOX on Jan. 23 to mixed reviews from TV critics who claim the show either lacks a direct storyline that is sensible or leaves audiences rooting for the main character.

The American spinoff stems from the Australian TV show “Rake” created by eccentric Australian lawyer and filmmaker Charles Waterstreet making his TV debut by being loosely through main character Cleaver Greene (played by Richard Roxburgh.) The show was a comedy-drama with rich talent both in front of and behind the camera with excellent performances by the talented Roxburgh and Adrienne Pickering.

For the American version, the main character has been renamed Keegan Deane (played by Kinnear,) but the plot remains fairly identical to that of the Australian version.

Regarding the namesake of the show, a rake is a person with immoral character or self-destructing behavior. For this show, it is the perfect term for a brilliant lawyer who cannot get his personal life in order. Keegan lives with his best friend Ben Leon (John Ortiz, “Luck,” “Carlito’s Way”) and his wife Scarlet (Necar Zadegan, “24”) and doesn’t seem to be looking for a place of his own. Keegan has a gambling problem and is in debt to a very dangerous bookie and has a friendly relationship with the collector his bookie sends to beat him up every week for not paying. This friendship does not stop Keegan’s creditor and friend Roy (Omar J. Dorsey, “Django Unchained”) for having to do his job, which is painful, literally, for Keegan. On top of gambling debts, Keegan also has problems with the IRS and will soon face jail time if he does not figure a way out of this crisis.

All of Keegan’s clients are guilty and attract much media attention, which has put him on the outs with the mayor and Los Angeles Police Department.  Yet, he successfully defends them by showing that the crime they are charged with is not the one they committed, thus getting them off. Keegan is falling in love with a prostitute named Melissa “Mikki” Partridge (Bojana Novakovic, “Generation Um…”) whom he has a “girlfriend” relationship with, but there are hints that she too has a romantic interest in Keegan.

The anti-hero genre seen in “Rake” is not new, but what this show does differently is that it demonstrates the main character in a more humane light. Keegan doesn’t always come out on top, especially because he has addiction problems and is unable to be emotionally available in a healthy romantic relationship. The protagonist is aware of his flaws, making him less of a cool brooding character that people should hate. In result, audience members are too charmed by his words to dislike him.

In the series, Keegan is a likable guy and his personal destruction is all his own. That being said, he often works to help those around him. It is a show that is more caring than its counterparts due to the simple fact that Keegan’s flaws aren’t cool, but are a real problem very evidently highlighted in each episode. Kinnear is spot on as he shows a full range of emotions that adds depth to Keegan. The dynamics between the characters encompass love, humor, worry and drama.

In the end, this show is a fun one, but does break the mold of the anti-hero by showing that the cool guy doesn’t always get away with bad behavior. “Rake” also shows that negative character behavior isn’t always a choice and that is something refreshing to see on the airwaves.

“Rake” airs Thursdays on FOX at 8 p.m.