Rake: Serial Killer review

The premiere of Rake, the new Greg Kinnear show on Fox shows some potential. Here's Nick's review...

Before the television anti-hero became murderous and meth dealing, the trope existed as a narcissistic jerk, but a mostly harmless jerk. Fox’s latest endeavor, Rake, a remake of an Australian program, is a throwback to that type of lovable rapscallion, last seen fronting the network’s hit House. Greg Kinnear is not Hugh Laurie, but he has the same aura as that jovial smartass in his lead role as attorney Keegan Deane. The network is hoping that Kinnear’s puckish charm will help secure them the first brand new hit of the 2014 television season, and if this premiere is any indication, they might have a shot.

Rake, right from the get go, feels like a show you’ve watched before, partly because it’s composed of things that TV audiences have been flocking to for ages; lawyer procedurals, appealing, but ultimately flawed protagonists, and a wide supporting cast of endearing straight men to bounce off of the leading wild card. Sometimes, a show feeling too comfortable and familiar can be a detriment, but here, it does no harm. Part of the Rake‘s appeal is that it isn’t too difficult of a watch. There’s no head scratching plots, world building to get used to, or small details to painstakingly trace; Rake relies solely on being light, digestible fun, something that’s been scarce as of late on TV.

The biggest thing working for this show is Kinnear. He has a certain charisma that keeps his narcissism tolerable, almost endearing. He’s a subtler, handsomer Saul Goodman, operating in mucky waters, yet still remaining likable. We learn that he doesn’t treat his assistant particularly well, he’s not the best house guest, he’s a pest on the job, and that he’s divorced, and yet, his assistant, his best friend and his family putting him up, the judge and the mayor, and his therapist wife all continue dealing with him because he has acertain congenial quality. Self-absorption and gambling debt be damned, Keegan is still a character you’re drawn to, and that’s a success on Kinnear’s part.

The legal aspect of the show also works in this pilot. Keegan unveils a police scandal where the police chief coaxes fake confessions out of a murderer to put difficult, lingering cases to bed. Peter Stormare makes the most playing the fame seeking killer, and Kinnear does a good job conveying that Keegan might not actually be half bad at his job. I found the courtroom and interrogation room scenes to be the most intriguing stuff the show had to offer.

Ad – content continues below

The rest of the material may need some time to resonate. We are introduced to a slew of characters that Keegan will mingle with and annoy. There’s the aforementioned best friend and his family, consisting of his prosecuting attorney wife, the assistant, therapist ex-wife, not to mention a gangster seeking retribution, a son, a friendly prostitute, and a pissed off Los Angeles Mayor. Splitting time with all of these supporting players means that we don’t get to see any of these relationships really develop, so we’ll mostly have to wait and see how they progress throughout the coming weeks. Kinnear and Bojana Novakovic (who plays prostitute Mikki) have some fun chemistry brewing, but overall, none of these characters left too great of an impression.

Though it may have been a little jumbled, the series premiere of Rake seems like a promising start to the show, but going forward, they’re going to have to lift the work off of only Kinnear’s shoulders if this thing is going to have any longevity. If the procedural aspect of the show is your most interesting piece, you may run into some problems telling character stories. Overall, Rake is a fun way to spend an hour on Thursday nights; familiar, but somehow still fresh.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!


3.5 out of 5