Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Fox's "House, But With a Lawyer" Drama Rake?

It's been an almost unbearably busy January as far as new and returning television shows are concerned, but the month is not over—and neither is the barrage of TV. This week, Fox debuts a show it's been working on for a while now in the Greg Kinnear-starring Rake. The network is banking on its kinda-sorta high-profile star and showy source material to make Rake yet another in a long line of hit shows featuring misanthropic dudes. But is Rake actually worth watching? Well, that's the whole point of this story, so read on to find out!


Rake? Is this a half-baked Animation Domination show about an outdoor maintenance tool?

Believe it or not, Rake is not a Seth MacFarlane joint about a (probably racist) talking rake. Instead, it's a dramedy about a L.A. lawyer who doesn't have it together. He owes over $50,000 in gambling debts, has the IRS knocking on his door, can't pay his assistant, camps out on his friends' couch because his ex-wife kicked him out, and always manages to find his way into trouble. But don't worry, he's also cool and cunning in that slimeball leading man type of way. Also, his name is not Rake; the show's title is a nod to the historical character type, which defines a "rake" as "a man who is habituated to immoral conduct."


Who is Not-Rake and who decided not to name him Rake?

The show's lead character—his name is actually Keegan Deane—is embodied by the aforementioned Greg Kinnear, who's making his triumphant return to television after just ripping it up in feature films once he moved on from Talk Soup a couple decades ago. Kinnear is joined in the cast by Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the upcoming masterpiece I, Frankenstein) as Deane's shrink ex-wife, John Ortiz (Luck and two of the last three Fast and Furious films) and Necar Zadegan (24Emily Owens, M.D.) as his too-patient friends, Tara Summers (Ringer, Boston Legal) as his too-patient assistant, and Bojana Novakovic (Edge of Darkness) as a hooker with a heart of gold, or something. Rake is an adaptation of an Australian series of the same name and conceit, with the original creator Peter Duncan working on this version with Peter Tolan (Rescue Me). Sam Raimi (the first Spider-Man trilogy) directed the pilot. 



When does Rake rake its way into our lives?

Rake debuts this Thursday, January 23, at 9pm on Fox, after American Idol. The post-Idol spot used to be the easiest gateway to Nielsen ratings success, and even though that isn't so true anymore, Fox will be looking to recapture some of that glory... despite putting Rake up against Grey's Anatomy and CBS's relatively successful comedy block. The good news is that Grey's is on hiatus right now and CBS is running reruns in Rake's first week.


Who might enjoy playing in the leaves with Rake?

All my Kinnearheads out there are probably pretty hyped for this one (maybe we'll have a real-life Nurse Betty sitch on our hands). If you enjoy generally lighthearted shows about barely functional assholes who are occasionally brilliant at their jobs, you'll get a kick out of the show. Particularly if you liked the seasons of House where the lead character tried to "better himself," i.e. managed to stay a prick but smiled a bit more; if that's you, Rake is absolutely going to be your jam.


What seems functional about this particular Rake?

For all my jokes, there's a reason Kinnear chose this role for his return to TV (well, other than his slowed film career): It's going to give him a number of showy moments to play different emotional beats. And generally, he's pretty good at delivering in those moments in the first hour. He has the lovable cad stuff down pat already, and he wears glasses like a champ, so it's believable enough when Keegan Deane is supposed to look competent at his job as a defense attorney. This is one of those shows where you simply have to let go of certain logic, especially the fact that there's no reason ANYONE in this dude's life would put up with him in the way they do; if you can do that, Rake is solidly enjoyable. The supporting cast doesn't have much to do yet, as this is clearly a one-man show, but there's a nice balance between Keane's personal misfortunes and his work. If you're worried about the legal procedural story engine being an overwhelming presence, it doesn't appear to be an issue—Rake doesn't really care about cases. Sam Raimi won't be around to direct in the coming weeks, but the pilot looks good enough.



What about Rake makes you want to bury your head in a pile of leaves?

I mean, setting aside the fact that this is an adaptation, Rake is unbelievably derivative. Fox wants to replace that House-shaped void in your heart, and the pilot takes viewers through all those familiar paces pretty clearly. Although Kinnear is indeed charming, by the end of just one episode I was already a little tired of the character's schtick. He's not as fascinating a character as House was even after one episode, and that means that most of the time is spent with Kinnear hamming it up. That's fine for a few weeks, but I don't know if it's sustainable. 

And as I touched on above, Kinnear/Deane takes all the air out of the room for everyone else. Miranda Otto is supremely wasted, and everyone in the cast just stands around rolling their eyes at Deane until they eventually shrug off his behavior. For this show to work in the longterm, Peter Duncan and Peter Tolan will have to flesh out their supporting characters quite a bit. That's not an impossible task, but it'll probably be a difficult one to accomplish in Kinnear's big shadow.

Finally, Rake doesn't seem to have much to say. It's not even like Deane "learns" something substantive by the end of the opening hour, which is a boilerplate pilot move. In general, Rake is pretty celebratory toward its lead character's behavior. What's the point of that?


Okay, well should I even bother testing this Rake out in the yard?

Eh, probably—but with caution. I know I sound negative; that's because I'm thinking about the series longterm prospects. The first episode is entertaining enough, and as I said, Kinnear's work can probably carry Rake through some early bumps. It's definitely worth a DVR recording or a weekend stream online. But be on alert, because Rake could get repetitive pretty quickly.


Can I see a trailer to decide for myself?

Sure!



Rake debuts Thursday, January 23, at 9pm on Fox.


Comments (63)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Jan 23, 2014
Just like Blacklist is the James Spader show, this one could be the Greg Kinnear show. Cory is right to say it might not be substainable. I am getting a little tired of Blacklist even though Spader is still fantastic.

I rate Greg kinnear slightly lower so the show creators better got something up their sleeves for future episodes.
Reply
Flag
Jan 24, 2014
Blacklist is totally the Spader show, but it's also amusingly absurd and over the course of the season the supporting cast have really showed they can hold their own as well.

The only risk for me with Blacklist is that it might get trite over time if they don't move the overarching story line forward and just focus on the villain of the week, but they've been setting up those story revelations nicely, so there should be enough to keep coming back for while they get comfortable with their format.
Reply
Flag
Jan 28, 2014
Now Monday night I have The Following, The Fosters, Almost Human and The blacklist have now fallen way below.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014

Greg Kinnear doesn't really ever get the respect he deserves. Hopefully he'll be able to show off his talents in this show. Previews seem promising.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I don't know why but i have a gut feeling that this will turn out to be a great show. But the premise doesn't really suggest it; it just sounds ordinary. We'll see.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Goddamnit, I kinda wanted to like this show, but every single thing mentioned here is what I worried it'd be like, and as much as I like Kinnear the marketing materials have not instilled any hope. Plus, it's Fox and this isn't going to be their hit, so it's going to get fast-flushed.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Yeah, not to sure about this one.
I have seen the original version and its gets a little repetitive with an eight episode season.
A longer run of a vanilla version of the show could be too much.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I love Greg Kinnear so I'm giving this a chance. He seems fit for the title character, long on charm, but maybe a little short on genuineness. Don't short shrift his acting career, though. Good roles may have dried up and he was always more supporting actor material, but didn't he get an Oscar nod for As Good as it gets (or whatever that movie was with Jack Nicholson and that waste of space Helen Hunt)?
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I really am not tired of the "House" type of shows or characters and I wish there were more well done ones, but after watching the pilot and reading the details of the premise, I'm quite sure that unless this somehow becomes a smash hit and at least a dozen people I respect recommend it to me, I'm not going anywhere near this piece of garbage.

So yeah, this seems to have none of the intelligence or charm that carried House through several seasons.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Looks like the best thing about this is Denis O'Hare as the cannibal.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I am going to give it a chance, it seems nice....
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I know a lot of people loved the Australian original but I HATED it. Its pacing was excruciatingly slow and its writing was laboured. I couldn't watch it beyond the pilot. We can be confident that the pacing will be much improved in the US version but no doubt they'll still find a way to squander any potential this premise has. I'll not be watching this.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
It could be the one show where the US remake would be better then the original. Still waiting for it ..............
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
How can you judge a show if you only watch the pilot? Shows often change/develop beyond the pilot which often has time/budget/feeling out restraints.
2
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I couldn't make it through a few pilots because they were so bad. Some of these shows are still on but I just don't think they were my cup of tea. It is okay. I try to give most shows now 4 episodes like TV.com does, but if I can't make it through one, I am done.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 24, 2014
I once tried a little show called Work It...
Reply
Flag
Jan 29, 2014
Yikes. I didn't brave that
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I've also not made it through a couple of pilots in my time, one example being the Vampire Diaries, but I wouldn't go around slagging it off based on the opinion of mine from the pilot, I believe that show was quite popular ;)
Reply
Flag
Jan 29, 2014
Just because a show is renewed and popular does not mean it is good. I cite Full House as one of these shows. Also
Flag
Jan 24, 2014
What more or less can someone ever do other than given their opinion? If you hated TVD then by all means you should express that. And why would a show's popularity have anything to do with how good you think it is?
1
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
That's a clever argument but it in no way affects my point. In your opinion did Rake change/develop to such a dramatic extent that I would change my mind. I doubt it.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Yes, particularly when Missy became more involved.
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Yep, just when I was thinking, "It's about time another country's show got ripped-off, sorry, lovingly recreated into American". Along comes this. When is the American system going to leave other country's materials alone? Are the studios that bereft of ideas?

4
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
It's never going to happen.
The way American producers/network execs see it, is that the shows they remake are so good that they deserve the American treatment. Because, of course, Americans do it best.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I couldn't finish the trailer, looks boring and cliche ladened.
2
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
I don't know... I feel overloaded with mediocre / underwhelming shows that get canned after a few eps so I'll probably just wait until it perhaps gets a second season and then might be worth checking out?
3
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
Nope.
5
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
Watched the Aussie version and loved it, Greg Kinnear will have to go some distance to match Richard Roxborough's portrayal of the antipodean Rake. Having said that, the fact that the original creator is co-writing with Tolan gives me hope, as I really liked Rescue Me too. So I'll give it a chance. It's a shame though that the US won't get a chance to see the original one, because some of the other actors in it were really very good and there were rough edges to it that I worry will get sanded off and varnished with the inevitable and sometimes tedious gloss that comes with a bigger budget.
10
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
copying Australia again! The Slap won't be as good as Oz's version either I think.
2
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
You have to be kidding me. The Slap is getting the American treatment? Of course, pretty anything that actually made the show noteworthy and watchable will be sanitised or just plain removed for the different TV standards of the American system.
4
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
The Australian version is very, very good, but way too "Adult" for a US mainstream show so I'm assuming this version will be massively diluted compared to the Australian one, will give it a go though, if they get only 10% of the energy and fun of the Australian version it'll still be better than most of the shite on TV these days.
4
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
I have seen the first two seasons of the original, Australian series and am eagerly awaiting Season 3. I think the series is brilliant and hope the US version keeps up the quality (cos Kath & Kim was completely ruined)
Do we really want our protagonist to change dramatically in the very first hour of meeting him? What makes him so interesting is how selfish and flawed he is, and how difficult he finds it to change. To see him grow as a person over a season arc will be far more enjoyable, cos watching him f*#k up and destroy all his relationships is highly entertaining.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
I think the point the reviewer was making is that the show kind of celebrates his bad behaviour and glorifies is so it's doubtful that they'll ever want him to change.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
I meant, if the overall quality and story holds up against the Australian version, keep watching.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
As someone who couldn't quite get into House (and not just because I lost my keys... get i--ugh, nevermind me), there's more than a good chance I wont enjoy this one. But I generally like Kinnear so I'll try it.
1
Reply
Flag
Jan 22, 2014
The Australian version was fantastic. It aired on the "audience" channel. Which is 239 on Directv. It's definitely worth checking out, it it's anything like the original it should be pretty good.
4
Reply
Flag
Jan 23, 2014
Didn't it air on ABC? :-p
1
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook