Can Richard Roxburgh's new drama turn around the fortunes of the ABC?
"Now it's all very well to have a good idea, but to realise that idea is a whole other bag of bananas.
"This is just the beginning of the ABC's renewed addiction. A drive to create drama series that are contemporary, that connect and are uniquely Australian."
Indeed it is. ABC's new eight-part series has assembled a stellar cast for its offbeat tale about Cleaver Greene, a reckless barrister who is brilliant on the courtroom floor but a wreck in his personal life.
Publicity notes indicate "To his learned friends at the bar table he is 'a real wag', and to most judges he is 'an outrage'. To the Tax Office, he is 'a defendant', to a certain brothel owner 'a legend', and to his former cocaine dealer 'a tragic loss'."
Rake represents a great deal to the public broadcaster.
It's been a long time since it has enjoyed a hit drama. Roxburgh's last ABC series East of Everything had its charms but wasn't the next SeaChange. Bed of Roses with Kerry Armstrong has a third season in December as a gentle take on three generations of females in regional Australia. The Cut, which starred Matt Passmore as a sports manager, didn't do well in the ratings. ABC2's indie-style I ROCK with Josh Mapleston came and went without much fanfare.
Some critics have noted that ABC has spent too long in trying to recreate the success of SeaChange.
Rake could hardly be called that. It arrives at a time when police procedurals dominate our TV screens.
Meanwhile, the public broadcaster has seen drama awards being swept up by commercial networks, SBS and pay TV channels.
Some months ago ABC appointed a new head of fiction in producer Carole Sklan. She is now overseeing a slate that includes a number of new projects in development, including from writer Marieke Hardy and comedian Adam Richard.
Rake airs 8:30pm Thursdays on ABC1.