Rake is an Australian television series, which revolves around the life of criminal barrister, Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh). Each individual episode centers around a different criminal defendant and trial, with personal story lines transitioning from episode to episode. Australian television fans will immediately recognize much of the cast, with appearances from Steve Le Marquand, Adrienne Picker, Danielle Cormack, Damien Garvey and Robyn Malcolm.
Outside of the courtroom, Cleaver Greene is immature, reckless and self-destructive. Inside of the courtroom, he is pretty much the same, but still manages to help his indefensible clients escape justice many times. During the first season, he works alongside his friend, Barney Meagher (Russell Dykstra). During his free time, Cleaver wastes away the hours at a local brothel with his favorite girl, Melissa Patridge (Adrienne Pickering, Secrets and Lies), if that is her real name. Although his trouble with the opposite sex is fairly evident, his gambling addiction is far worse and usually ends with him being bashed by Col Mancusi (Steve Le Marquand, Wentworth Prison, Small Time Gangster).
Due to his gambling, Cleaver faces his own day in court, as he pairs off against his rival, Harry, Sorry, David Potter (Matt Day). The pair not only fight over Cleaver’s tax records, but also Melissa. Cleaver relies on his ex-wife, Wendy Greene (Carline Brazier), for advice from time to time, which also leads to complications. Things get a little crazy, when they discover their son, Fuzz Greene (Keegan Joyce), is having a questionable affair. Although we’ll avoid the fine details, they’re perfectly hilarious.
Of course, Cleaver gets into relationship trouble of his own, when he slips up and winds up in bed with Barney’s wife, Scarlet (Danielle Cormack). Despite attempts to keep the affair secret, it eventually emerges and could potentially ruin things between Cleaver and Barney.
Despite being filled with hilarious silly antics, the show is able to touch on the viewer’s emotions from time to time. Although his morals are questionable, close friends and colleagues still rely on Cleaver. Underneath it all, he seems to generally try to do the right thing, although it usually ends badly.
Rake is definitely a hilarious show that is packed with plenty of drama and a tad bit emotion every once in awhile. Throughout the entire first season, all of the performances were excellent and each of the characters, despite all of their flaws, are somewhat likable. Still, it is Richard Roxburgh, who leads the way and manages to keep everything funny, but realistic, inside and outside of the courtroom.
All of the supporting characters help to enhance the show significantly. Russell Dykstra and Matt Day do an excellent job helping to balance out Cleaver’s crazy antics. While the show is meant to be funny, it takes a fun approach to exposing some of the hypocrisies of society. Don’t be surprised, if you find yourself giggling and nodding in agreement, with some of the political statements in Rake. After a few episodes, you may even repeat some of the clever, catchy phrases in your everyday live. All in all, the show is tremendously clever, sufficiently hilarious and definitely worth the watch.
According to critics and fans alike, the Australian version is leagues above the American one, which seems to be a common trend with remakes. Therefore, you should stick to the original and enjoy Richard Roxburgh, as Cleaver Greene. The first season deserves a 9 out of 10.