Rake

It’s been a while since ABC Drama has had a true hit.

Is Cleaver Greene the man to turn its fortunes around?

Rake is a symbolic move on the part of the national broadcaster. The 8-part series represents a renewed push to produce contemporary Australian stories and has won a brash Thursday primetime slot.

Set in Sydney, Rake is an offbeat drama spearheaded by the dynamic Richard Roxburgh as a barrister whose personal life is in disarray, contrasted by his success on the courtroom floor.

As a man Greene is rudderless. There are prostitutes, cocaine dealers, the ATO on his back,  playing part-time dad to the teenage son from his former marriage and being late with child support.

He is snarly, condescending, untrustworthy, given to excess and temptation. This is a bloke who attracts trouble…. when he isn’t dreaming or indulging.

He confides in his call girl Missy (Adrienne Pickering), in sessions that are all-too-brief to soothe his many personal grievances.

“This economic climate is turning every decent bender in this town into a reptile. First my bookie, now my brothel keeper. 12,000 years I’ve been coming to this place. You think I would have accrued some frequent f***er points by now…” he complains.

Greene is also an ardent champion of hopeless cases.

His current case involves a Professor facing a murder charge after advertising on the internet for a dinner date  willing to be consumed. Hugo Weaving plays a cannibal claiming his victim committed suicide. No doubt based on a infamous crime in Germany in 2001, the case is one that Greene is determined to win, despite the disgust of those in his own law firm.

At a dinner party with friends, Greene is able to defend his ethics, which he says sees him win his cases “only 51%” of the time.

“The very reason I get lowlife crooks off is because I care about the law. It’s justice I don’t give a toss about,” he says.

Unlike the eccentric cases that were featured in legal dramas LA Law and Boston Legal, Rake doesn’t have its tongue in its cheek. Instead it is played straight with the reckless Greene providing the colourful extremes.

The supporting cast is solid with restrained performances by those appearing as colleagues, family and friends. Geoff Morrell is terrific as a NSW Attorney-General under fire for hiring the cannibal Professor as an economic consultant. He upholds a line in public but is frank with Greene when he exits a brothel at the same time.

The show has also attracted a stellar guest cast with A-list names. Hugo Weaving is downright spooky as the man who sees no crime in eating his fellow man, and is more concerned that his wife (Sacha Horler) is disappointed with him. If we get performances this good every week it will be worth tuning in for those alone.

Greene shows early signs of a cavalier attitude to women (whether as conquests, workmates or even reporters on the telly), while the script by director Peter Duncan is yet to carve out some female characters who will stand outside of Greene’s shadow.

Scarlett (Danielle Cormack), the wife of his best friend Barney (Russell Dykstra), goes as far as to say, “I’m a woman. I internalise everything until I explode.”

There is a suggestion that Greene could become romantically involved with her.

That Greene is flawed is a dramatic attribute. That he is so unlikeable is rather more concerning. Television is rarely embracing of those we do not like, but if we are fascinated by what makes them tick there is a way forward. There can certainly be no charges that he is one-dimensional.

Roxburgh revels in a charismatic, if sometimes dark, role. He is also a co-producer and co-creator of the piece.

Rake is a step in the right direction for ABC Drama, and a change from the many procedural dramas that dominate our screen. It’s nice to have a drama led by character rather than plot. This is a show that seeks a considered viewer, prepared to entertain an imperfect cavalcade of characters and the many facades of Sin City.

Now the verdict lays with the audience.

Rake airs 8:30pm Thursdays on ABC1.

41 Comments:

  1. Great cast and casting in each episode. Production, direction, music and writing…topnotch. Never thought I’d hear Pass the Kerosene, brilliant! I hope that helps The Picklemen. Another season to be broadcast here in California, I hope. looking forward to it.

  2. This show is awesome. In 8 episodes, it’s had virtually everything in it. Richard Roxburgh is great. All his line deliveries are perfect. The supporting cast also great. Bring on more

  3. Lads , job well done I must say. I’ve watched the entire first series and I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. To the Producers and the network – Please continue making this interesting and enjoyable home grown Australian drama. Most of the crap on television , including foxtel , I cannot stomach, the mainstream commercial free to air stations who have sold their souls to the multi-national supermarkets Coles and Woolworths and provide for our viewing displeasure NCIS , CSI’s , Mentalist , , Biggest Losers , all reality cooking shows , big brother , Law and Order’s, – mediocrity mediocrity mediocrity – No thankyou .
    It’s good to see some Australian’s putting their creative talent together to produce a fine example of Aussie Television. This show has kept me entertained and I rate it highly. I give it 5 stars. Keep the series rolling on Cleave, Andrew and Pete , it has plenty of life left in it lads.

  4. this is absolutely fantastic one of the few things worth watchin on tv generally,i hope the ABC is looking at continuing with more series,after this one,about time someone did something that is as true to real life as this one…
    Well done ABC keep it coming, i think you now have thousands of rake addicts,so dont let them go into withdrawal by leaving it at only one series……
    10 out of 10 for production,scipt writing,and of course cast members, Brilliant.!!!!

  5. Just watched tonight’s episode of Rake…it is just getting better and better! TV is usually not worth recording…Rake is! We are proud of you ABC.

  6. Rake has turned out to be a great show. bloody well done, great aussie talent. whats more fantastic is that our old mate tv hating @Mike was dead set wrong its rating is head off

  7. Watched four episodes and still a fan. It’s getting better every week. Wiity, over the top yet heart wrenching. Roxbourgh has been accompanied by fantastic talent. Couldn’t get over Lisa McClune’s role – I had no idea she could ooze so much sex appeal. Can’t wait to see Sam Neill’s performance this week.

    BTW as others have done – you shouldn’t compare this to any other show including the brilliant Boston Legal. Why? Rake is unique because it’s fair dinkum Australia. The main protagonist is the modern larrikin and I think we should encourage more local talent instead of the drivel you find on commercial channels.

  8. I like it – it’s intelligent, sharp and witty. I’m getting so tired of the American police shows on other channels. It’s just nice for a change. He almost reminds me of a modern, grubbier version of “Rumpole of the Bailey”.

  9. Rake is not bad – it’s just a shame that’s it’s not as good as it could be. It’s not as funny as it could be, nor as dramatic. And Richard R is always cold on screen, even though he no-doubt thinks that he’s hot stuff (he is a co-producer of this). Last night’s ep had a lot of shots of middle-aged naked people on the the job. Not a great look. The ratings dropped accordingly.

  10. Rake is a little like ‘House’ with a scammel, it is a little over wordy and Clever comes across a little too confident. but I will give it time; but not too much.

  11. @ Ducko, I thought people were allowed to express an opinion, or are you one of these types that only allows an opinion when it aligns with your own. Talk about hypocritical. Ducko, not only do you let an opinion affect your responses about a television show, you also accuse a person about having no life for posting, yet you do exactly the same. Some therapy and education so you can learn what an anology is might be of benefit. Deep breaths Ducko, deep breaths.

    @ Trix, your argument sort of unravels there. You do not need to experience something in life to make an informed decision. You base your opinion on the available information on hand. So far the information I have found on Rake is that the show is puerile, shallow, egocentric and laughably trite. If you think you can find brilliance in it, gold star for you.

    Trix a promo is designed to actually want to make the viewer want to watch, not just leap out at you. If it doesn’t then it has failed. Do you actually comprehend people are not going to sample every single drama on tv to see if they like it?

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