Rake is an American comedy-drama television series that is an adaptation of the Australian series of the same name, both of which are created by Peter Duncan. Duncan served as series producer with, among others, star Greg Kinnear, Peter Tolan, and Richard Roxburgh, on this version for Fedora Entertainment, Essential Media, and Sony Pictures Television. On May 8, 2013, the series was added to the Fox network’s 2013–14 schedule as a late fall/mid-season entry. The series premiered on January 23, 2014, originally airing Thursdays on the network, before moving to Fridays late in the first season and eventually to Saturdays for the final two episodes. On May 7, 2014, Fox canceled the series after one season, but ultimately aired the produced episodes.
The series follows Keegan Deane, a criminal defense lawyer whose personal problems and self-destructive behavior have him battling wits and owing money to everyone around him, including his ex-wife, judges, an assistant district attorney, his bookie, a brothel owner, and the IRS.
The early episodes were aired out of order, as the original pilot, written by Peter Duncan and directed by Sam Raimi, had „an overload of not drama … but maybe a little sadness,“ according to producer Peter Tolan. He added, „[it] worked against the episode. And so we refigured it, sort of toning that down“. The episode originally portrays Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) in an unhealthy mental and physical state.
Episode 13, „Mammophile“, should be viewed after episode 5, „Bigamist“, to maintain continuity.
Rake scored 62 out of 100 on Metacritic based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating „generally favorable“ reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the show a rating of 66%, based on 38 reviews, with the site’s consensus stating: „Rake‘s smart blend of comedy and drama makes it the perfect vehicle for Greg Kinnear’s offbeat charm and dry humor“.
Hank Stuever (The Washington Post) gave it a B+ grade, positing that „House comparisons will surely abound, but Rake is easily one of the more confident network dramas to come our way of late. It’s a procedural … but it’s just unorthodox enough to make me eager to see more.“ The Los Angeles Times‚ Mary McNamara stated „Rake owes more to the increasingly humane tone of family and female-based comedies like Modern Family and Parks and Recreation than Rescue Me, which could (fingers crossed) indicate a similar journey to the light for the ever-popular tortured white male.“ Jeff Jensen from Entertainment Weekly awarded the series a B grade, stating „Rake is yet another show that tries to entertain us with a boorish, morally sketchy protagonist. Comparisons have been made to House or cable drama cads like Don Draper, but it’s the differences from the ‚Unlikeable Antihero‘ archetypes of current TV that define the show.“
Not all reviews were favorable: James Poniewozik of Time stated „You get the sense that the show … is vacillating. Maybe it wants to be the kind of raw indictment/worship of reckless masculinity we’ve seen on cable. Or maybe it wants to be a more picaresque version of House, with a little less genius and a little more self-degradation.“ The Huffington Post‚s Maureen Ryan said „Part of the problem is Rake’s diffidence about how bad a guy Keane is supposed to be. He’s clearly a raging narcissist, yet the show deflects that aspect of his personality and tries to make him seem a little bit adorable. If we’re supposed to fear that the worst aspects of his personality will land him in serious trouble, the tidy resolutions of various story points in the pilot seem to preclude that possibility … Rake isn’t a bad show, it just doesn’t appear to have the courage of its convictions.“
Keegan takes the case of three California Conservative Mennonites who attack an elder who tries to take a woman member back home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The three were arrested for attempted murder, but Keegan learns they merely tried to shave off the elder’s beard as customary punishment. During the trial, it is revealed the elder did the same to another man who modernized a tractor. The elder simply does not accept the Californians using cell phones and driving delivery vans for their bakery business. The three are sentenced to six months in prison on the lesser charge of assault and reconcile with the victim as per the Amish doctrine of forgiveness.