Rake may at first seem like just another network drama about the criminal justice system, but perhaps due to it being based on an Australian series, it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Greg Kinnear is perfectly cast as Keegan Deane, whose name even threatens to elicit a few laughs, a criminal lawyer who will do whatever it takes to make money and pay off his very large debts. He's different from the typical stoic, boring, stereotypical TV lawyer, and both Kinnear and the writing help to make him less than saintly, but extraordinarily watchable. The pilot offers up an interesting plot and several entertaining, funny gags, such as when Keane spends much of the episode trying to sell a fish stuck in a cooler to a sushi restaurant, an element that keeps the show fresh, even when the fish isn't. Rake's pilot episode shows promise of a unique, entertaining mid-season replacement series.
FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT!
FOX's new show Rake is a show about many things. It's a show about a lawyer, replete with clients to tackle every week. It's a show about a man-child who cannot get over his addiction to gambling and financial instability. It's also a show about a man trying to reclaim his family. In spite of these divergent intentions, the show is made with care, cast extremely well and written in a classic, respectable form. For those interested, I see no reason to not recommend.
FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT!
Despite a large number of talented writers, the pilot episode is a little underwhelming. Peter Duncan wrote this particular episode, and the biggest problem with it is how cliched the story feels. Our protagonist Keegan is a drunk, a gambler with too many debts, he loses his car, he gets pulled over driving with an expired license; it's just one silly thing after another. It feels as if the writing is trying to be over-the-top just because it can. This pilot episode harkens back to shows with similar dysfunctional protagonists like Shameless or Californication; the main difference of course is that those shows could swear and shock the audience into liking them. Unfortunately, Rake is just trying too hard to be cool. Regardless of these gripes, the "dramatic" storyline that involves Keegan actually practicing law is engaging. Sure, there is nothing to separate these moments from any of the dramatic shows on TV about lawyers, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting to watch. In terms of cast, the only person worth talking about is Greg Kinnear. This is clearly his show, and he does have command of it. Were it not for him, this show would be unwatchable. In particular, he does an excellent job of making this character very unique, albeit ridiculous at times. The pilot hasn't impressed me at all, but still there's room for improvement, so give it a chance.
FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT.