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Friday, January 24, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Rake

RAKE












Starring: Greg Kinnear, John Ortiz, Miranda Otto, Necar Zadegan, Bojana Novakovic, Tara Summers, David Harbour, Ian Colletti

Based on the Australian Television Series
Developed for US Television by Peter Tolan and Peter Duncan
Written by Peter Duncan & Peter Tolan, Directed by Sam Raimi

Rake is a new legal dramedy based on the Australian series of the same name. In the US incarnation, Greg Kinnear plays Keegan Deane, a womanizing, alcoholic, and generally self-destructive criminal defense lawyer. The rest of the cast is the many people who populate Deane's life, some are good influences and some are bad. They include assistant Leanne (Tara Summers), best friend Ben (John Ortiz), ex-wife Maddy (Miranda Otto), teenage son Finn (Ian Colletti), and prostitute Mikki (Bojana Novakovic).

THE GOOD: I was pleasantly surprised at times by Rake. Greg Kinnear was excellent in the lead role. I'm not always a fan of Kinnear but this was a very good fit for him. He was at his best when he was unraveling and making mistakes left and right because he brought some humor to the role at those times. The show had a great opening sequence and it needed to because this was a show that had a premise that was a bit unclear from the log line and the commercials. The opening scene really let us into the world of Keegan Deane and it was fast-moving and entertaining, just like Deane's lifestyle. The relationship between Ben and Keegan seems genuine and the scene with the cop and the kids in the car was funny.

THE BAD: I think the pilot lost a little bit of its charm once it really started to dig into the legal case. While the "case of the week" was not horrible, it just felt very ordinary whereas the first couple scenes really felt like something unique. I get that Deane has to have a job to move plot lines along but I would minimize the courtroom scenes and focus on this being more of a character-driven show. I didn't like the whole use of the dead fish throughout the episode. I get that it was a sort of gimmick for the pilot that lasted throughout the episode but I just wasn't feeling it.

BOTTOM LINE: I'll be curious to see where this one goes. It certainly has potential because Kinnear is strong and the concept is good. But it already seemed like it wasn't quite sure what it wanted to be - morphing from a larger than life lifestyle to a humorous story to a legal drama all within the course of one hour. Rake has pieces that can make it a success but it's not all there yet. This is one of those shows that I enjoyed for the most part but I have a feeling I'll have a hard time getting excited to see episode two.

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