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Rake Pilot Review: “Dean’s Life is Falling apart. Kinnear Makes it a Joy to Watch”

By on June 9, 2013
Greg Kinnear. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Greg Kinnear. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Meet Keegan Dean, a man furiously treading the waters of life as he attempts to keep his head above the rising tide. A once brilliant lawyer, Dean now operates out of a borrowed office, a borrowed car and yesterday’s clothes. His last case saw him defending himself. He might be able to get his act together if he didn’t have all those gambling debts to worry about, not mention a crazed ex who may just be trying to kill him, a debt-collector who likes to beat him up every so often, and the fact that he’s recently fallen in love with a prostitute who wants nothing to do with him.

Rake is a new legal drama coming to FOX this mid-season. Starring the affable and capable Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, The Kennedys) in his TV series debut as the rakish Keegan Dean, the show comes from Peter Duncan (who created the Australian version), and executive producers Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, Analyze This) and Michael Wimer (2012).

ScreenSpy recently had the opportunity to screen the pilot episode, and although we’re told it’s not available for a full review just yet (there may be some tweaking before it hits the air in late Fall) we can share some first impressions with you.

Pictured (l-r) John Ortiz, Greg Kinnear ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jaimie Trueblood/FOX

Pictured (l-r) John Ortiz, Greg Kinnear ©2013 Fox Broadcasting

Greg Kinnear deserves props for making a character so swiss-cheesed with flaws genuinely engaging to watch. We’re not sure why he hesitated for so long before finally committing to a TV project (mini series aside), but we get the feeling it took a character like Keegan Dean to make it worthwhile. Whether we’re looking at Dean’s flashes of brilliance in the courtroom, or the flashes of arrogance that pepper his personal life, there’s a real sense of charm, warmth and humor present that a lesser actor might struggle to get across. Like Hugh Laurie’s Gregory House before him, Kinnear’s Keegan Dean is one of TV’s originals.

Rake is in essence a legal drama, and it looks likely we’ll see Dean taking on weekly cases that no one else will touch. (The pilot sees him defending a self-confessed cannibal!) Despite serving up a decent measure of wackiness, the show steers clear of the out-there themes of a Boston Legal or an Ally McBeal style legal drama by cutting any potential for saccharine with Dean’s less attractive qualities – including gambling, drinking and prostitution.

The pilot also sets several plot plates spinning, suggesting there may be more on offer in future episodes than just the courtroom as the the consequences of Dean’s misadventures come home to roost.

Our bottom line: Rake is a refreshing take on the legal drama and shows some solid potential. It deserves to do well on this basis alone. Add to this an eminently capable lead like Greg Kinnear and you’ve got some must see TV lined up for Fall. Keegan Dean’s life may be falling apart but Kinnear makes it a joy to watch.