Rake is an adaptation of an Australian T.V. show, airing Thursday nights on FOX. It stars the sweet-faced, earnest Greg Kinnear. It has been many years since he received acclaim for his role in (one of my favorites) As Good As It Gets, and he's popped up all over the place ever since. But he's never really broken through: Everybody knows his name, but he's not an A-Lister.
This should could change that. Kinnear owns the tiny screen. He eats it for breakfast. This episode tried to do a lot -- almost too much, actually. But the real take-away of the densely plotted, exposition-heavy (but what first episode isn't?) premiere is that Kinnear's Keegan Deane is different from those other flawed white male protagonists on T.V. in the best possible way. Look out prestige networks: FOX is coming for you!
The highlight of the episode was Keegan's legal defense of an alleged serial killer. It was a perfect opportunity to let the audience see him at his best and worst. He doesn't want to help his client who he believes is guilty of serial murders out of sheer laziness. But when presented with no alternative, he knocks it out of the park, proving the dude is only guilty of ONE of the murders of which he's accused. His client is spared the death penalty, and Keegan, well, he gets to bask in all the press and publicity of a high-profile case. Brilliant legal mind, but a bit self-obsessed.
This is how Keegan is different from the Walter Whites and Enoch Thompsons of the world. He's not a strategist. He's a smart bon vivant. He's ALL soft underbelly and no real bite. He's well-intentioned. Even though he's got all manner of problems (a gambling addiction, a fraught love-life, a sleazy caseload at his legal practice), he isn't just looking out for number one, he's trying to please everyone. It's the narcisist's dilemma! And it creates infinite problems. No wonder he's formed a friendship with the dude sent by his bookie to beat him up. He doesn't know how NOT to try to please people. In short: Keegan is someone you start rooting for the moment you meet him. Now if he could only get out of his own way.
What did you think of Rake? Alternatively, Greg Kinnear.
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