Did you watch the American version of Rake on FOX in 2014? Starring Greg Kinnear, with a 70% Audience score, it lasted only one season. On Netflix, you can now watch five seasons of the original version. It won awards for Best Drama Series and Best Actor in Australia. Described as witty, fun and irreverent, I might also mention that it would receive a R-rating in the US. I give Rake 4 Gavels and it receives an 8.6 IMDb rating out of 10.
A “rake” (short for rakehell, analogous to “hellraiser”) in Australia is a man accustomed to immoral conduct, particularly womanising. A rake is also prodigal, wasting his money on gambling, wine, women and song, and incurring lavish debts in the process.
Cleaver Greene is a brilliant barrister, defender of the (nearly all) guilty, who owes big money to a crime boss. His best friend, and instructing solicitor, is Barney. So, of course, Cleaver sleeps with Barney’s wife, Scarlet, also a prosecuting barrister. During all of this, Cleaver is in love with Missy, a former prostitute, now in law school. In addition, Cleaver still has feelings for his ex-wife, Wendy, a psychologist. Despite all these distractions, plus booze and drugs, Cleaver has plenty of time to tweak the New South Wales government, all of whom seem to be on the take.
Richard Roxburgh is Cleaver Greene; rarely do you see an actor who has so much fun with a role. Russell Dykstra as Barney is the ultimate sidekick who will do almost anything for his friend. Adrienne Pickering (Missy) does a wonderful job of making an unbelievable character “grounded.” Danielle Cormack (Scarlet) and Caroline Brazier (Wendy) “enable” Cleaver to be the rascal that he is, yet remain so engaging throughout his ordeals.
The show includes wonderful guest stars including Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving, Sam Neill and Cate Blanchett. Given the number of lawyers, one might think you will be bombarded with court scenes. Fear not. For example, Season 3 finds Cleaver in prison for some hilarious takes. Season 4 finds Cleaver on the run from his former “boss.” The writers do an excellent job moving this around; it doesn’t get stale. At 8 episodes per season, it is ripe for binging. If you like quirky English comedies, this fits in the same mold. Trying to make a jerk into a compelling person is not easy. The Aussies have done it!