2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Preview in Two: Greg Kinnear in “Rake”

Published: January 21, 2014, 2:47 pm, by Terry Terrones

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Preview in Two is a new feature on the Pop Culture Blog. Pi2 is a quick preview of an upcoming TV show that you can peruse in about two minutes (I watch the pilots of shows so you don’t have to!). This way, you’ll quickly know whether an upcoming program is worth your time or not. We started off  2014 with “Killer Women” and “Enlisted.”  “Today we’ll take a closer look at the Fox comedy, “Rake.”

What is it?: ”Rake,” watch the official trailer here.

Star appeal: Greg Kinnear

When does it air?: The pilot episode airs Thursday January 23 at 8 p.m. on FOX

What’s the premise according to a Fox PR rep?: “Rake, a character-driven drama based on the Australian nominee for Best Television Drama series of the same name, follows the comedic and chaotic life of criminal defense lawyer Keegan Deane (Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Greg Kinnear, “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Kennedys”). On a single day, Keegan Deane is described as many things. His ex-wife-calls him “unreliable”; his son calls him a “pal”; most judges think he’s “an outrage”; the IRS calls him a “defendant”; and to his former dealer, he’s simply a “tragic loss.” Brilliant, frustratingly charming and with zero filter, Keegan is one of life’s great addicts.”

What are the highlights?: If you were a fan of the Fox show “House,” chances are you’ll get a kick out of “Rake” as Kinnear’s Keegan Deane seems to be Dr. Gregory House’s legal doppleganger. Deane is smarmy but can also be smart and charming. Kinnear’s interaction with his therapist ex-wife (played by Miranda Otto) and relationship with his soft hearted friend Ben (John Ortiz) should provide plenty of opportunities for water cooler chatter.

What are the lowlights? Creator and writer Peter Duncan tried to paint Keegan Deane as a lovable lout but the first episode shows Kinnear as much more lout than lovable. The hour long program spends most of its time making sure viewers know just how despicable Deane is. Throughout the show we see him take advantage of his son, ex-wife, secretary and friends and act like a petulant child when he doesn’t sell a tuna for as much money as he thinks it’s worth (that sounds funny but it really wasn’t). He also drinks too much, has enormous gambling debt and a prostitute girlfriend. None of these flaws I actually have a problem with (I like “Mad Men” ya know) but by the time we get to Deane’s redeeming qualities, there’s only 10 minutes left in the show, and even then he’s not nearly as clever as we hoped he’d eventually display.

The Grade: (C-): I’ve always enjoyed Greg Kinnear and love the versatility of “that guy” actor John Ortiz. But “Rake’s” first episode focused too much on lawyer Keegan Deane’s faults and lacked the humor and cleverness the trailers for the show promised. I kept waiting for breakout moment where I’d finally find Deane to be funny or sly or interesting or smart but it never really happened. Unless Fox gives viewers a reason to like “Rake,” its future is uncertain.