Fox takes a crack at an antihero-driven drama, but the legal procedural Rake feels like a watered-down cable show.
By Jessica Johnson|
Premieres Thursday, January 23 at 8pm on Fox.
In adapting the Australian series of the same name, Rake attempts to bring an antihero-centric drama to network television, but this watered down version of cable's bread and butter is too little, too late.
Defense attorney Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear, no his name is not "Rake") is a mess of a human being. A gambling addict in debt to his bookie for more than $50,000, Keegan is desperately trying to scare up a down payment on his debt. Whether playing in an all-night poker game, trying to unload a contraband fish to a sushi restaurant or representing a once-famous serial killer, none of his get-rich-quick schemes work out very well. Meanwhile, he does a great job of taking advantage of those around him. While his old college friends let him crash at their house, he has no qualms about stumbling in at dawn with a strange woman and passing out in the kitchen. When his ex-wife (Miranda Otto) asks him to take their son (Ian Colletti) out on a drive to prepare for his driver's test, Keegan uses it as an opportunity to get a ride after having his car towed. Wedged into Deane's haphazard life is a drab legal procedural focused on his attempts of represent very guilty people.
After years of antiheroes like Tony Soprano, Walter White and Don Draper, there's something so precious about Keegan Deane's version of a bad boy. Unlike the many criminals and cads that have come through cable television over the last several years, Rake's protagonist lacks the appropriate edge to create compelling or amusing drama. We're asked to believe that he's some kind of brilliant rogue but the source of most of his troubles in the pilot is having his expired license confiscated, after which he hitches rides from colleagues and relatives rather than just driving without one, like a true miscreant would. There's a difference between being a compelling antihero and just being a dick and Keegan Deane falls squarely into the latter category, no matter how much Kinnear turns on the charm. This is unfortunate because none of the other characters are remotely memorable, existing only to fill out the world. While Keegan bets on sports and cards, the show bets on him—both are equally bad wagers.