Mini-review: Rake (US) 1×1 (Fox)

Not so much progress as going backwards


In the US: Thursdays, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: The Universal Channel

Normally, TV producers try to do something clever with their shows’ titles. Even if they just name their show after the lead character, there’s normally a double meaning to it: think Hunter, House (a pun on Holmes), Ironside or Magnum.

Certainly, the producers of Australia’s Rake had that in mind when they named their show after the lead character, lawyer Rake Cleaver Greene, who’s also something of a rake. Not especially clever, but there was a point to it.

But it shows just how much in two minds the producers of the US adaptation are about the programme that it’s still called Rake, even though the lead character is now called Keegan Deane. Indeed, they reshot the pilot after it showed Deane as a bit ‘sadder’ than they’d wanted, that’s how much they’re not sure what to do with this.

The US version sees Greg Kinnear return to TV to play Deane, a narcissistic disaster area of a lawyer who womanises, gambles, treats everyone appallingly and generally ruins other people’s lives as well. Even his clients are mostly guilty of their crimes, something that Deane doesn’t really care much about, provided they can pay him, either in cash or giant tuna fish (don’t ask).

Deane lurches from one situation to another in a way that’s supposed to be lovable (and definitely not ‘sad’) and Houseian, but is largely just unpleasant, somewhat like watching a very small series of car crashes. He doesn’t have the genius of House and he doesn’t really have any redeeming qualities to make you want to forgive him or like him. And Kinnear, kind of like one of those spooky, almost-human Japanese robots, is close enough to Rob Lowe that he’s almost likeable, but far enough off that you just want Rob Lowe to be starring instead.

With the wrong lead, wrong scripts and even wrong character names, this is very much a missable show. But here’s a trailer so you can decide for yourselves if you at least want to give it a try.

Author

  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.