Rake – New Fox TV Series

Rake premiered on the Fox Network tonight. This is the American version of an Australian TV Series, of the same name, that will launch its third season next month. Starring Greg Kinnear, the series is about an L.A. criminal defense attorney who has issues, to the say the least.

He takes on what he thinks are high-profile cases, or cases that could become a money tree in his mind. Cases that one would think he has no chance of winning, and he wins them (so says the promotional notes) – yet his personal life, and at times his professional life, are simply situations where keeping his damned mouth shut would have the wiser choice.

As such, he can be described as a man with self-destructive tendencies that verge on making him a hopeless individual.

We might wonder if this version, or the version from Oz, is modeled after the Jim Carrey 1997 film, Liar Liar, which was about a lawyer who must tell the truth, no matter what, which gets him into trouble time and time again. There is a difference, this attorney is a master of the lie, the deflection, and the denial.

To give you a clear mental image of Kinnear’s Deane:

  • His wife has divorced him
  • He’s been crashing at his friend’s place now going into a number of months, rather than the original plan of a couple of weeks
  • His driver’s license expired two years ago
  • He has a secretary who he hasn’t paid in an indeterminate amount of time – but she needs the work permit to stay in the country
  • His lover is a prostitute, who may love him, but charges him her full rate just the same
  • One of his clients pays him, not in cash, but with a tuna worth $25K – that’s not $25K worth of a lot of tuna, it is one tuna.
  • He owes a bookie $59,000 and as we meet him, he takes a beating, with a promise of more to come – if he doesn’t settle up

Despite all of the above, he doesn’t seem to be the least bit worried. In less polite circles – we could call this kind of character a motor-mouth who never thinks before he speaks. Only as Kinnear plays him – his speed of speaking is toned way, way down, while conversely, his narcissism, his lack of correct self-assessment, and the utter denial of what is actually going on around him rises to off the chart levels. Kinnear’s Keegan Deane is low-key to a fault, and clearly is no one’s idea of a role model. Yet people put up with him.

This time, Keegan Deane actualy wins the poker game, but the guy who loses says he's broke, and has no money. Ironically Deanbe calls this guy a 'dead-beat'.

This time, Keegan Deane actually wins the poker game, but the guy who loses says he’s broke, and has no money. Ironically Deane calls this guy a ‘dead-beat’.

Pertinent facts:

  • There’s no laugh track
  • There’s no musical sound track
  • I didn’t laugh out loud once
  • At the moment of the first commercial interlude, I checked the time which was 9:16, and I was disappointed that more time hadn’t passed.

To say that I was roundly disappointed is an understatement. From the looks of the trailer (have a look) I expected some humorous situations and hopefully some funny moments. But Kinnear under plays the role, and so quietly, that it comes off as totally uninspired.

I’m thinking that some nice performances by the supporting players are wasted.

Want convincing? Have a look at the trailer, which runs for 3:48.

Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe wrote: The people in his life continue to accommodate him, and if Kinnear and the writers keep up that delicate balance, viewers might as well.

She’s much kinder than I am, as I don’t think I will write about this unfunny show, or watch it again.

2 thoughts on “Rake – New Fox TV Series

  1. I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed about this. However, it seemed intruiging enough for a Fox comedy, so I might just give it a watch. Also, Greg Kinnear can be very funny to watch when he’s given the right material to work with, so I’ll just wait and see. Nice review Mike.

    • Well Dan, you can give it a look and then decide. I just thought it played out very flat. I couldn’t pull out a highlight if I wanted to.
      Certainly Kinnear is not only likable, but he is also talented. I think his character’s situation is borderline or even over the line of absurdity.
      But he plays it so straight and low key that all the life of the humor. the absurdity, is buried by the actor’s seeming normalcy.

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