Judge David Johnson isn't a rake. He's a hedge pruner.
The Bar has been lowered.
From the land down under, an off-beat approach to the legal drama. Starring Richard Roxburgh (a familiar face, but someone I most quickly recognized from the Mission: Impossible II), Rake tells the story of criminal barrister Cleaver Greene, as deeply flawed a douchebag as you will find on any show in any country.
Greene loves cocaine, prostitutes, and getting into trouble with the mob. Aside from all these shenanigans, he still finds time to practice law, ending up neck-deep in the type of cases that would only attract a hapless degenerate who would be willing to defend anyone.
And I mean anyone. His first case is defending a government official who also happens to be a cannibal (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix). His other clients include the World's Horniest Lady, bigamists, and a sweet elderly couple with a carnal interest in dogs. Each episode finds Greene—always desperate for cash to support his sundry habits and pay off his debts—leaping into these legal septic tanks. More often than not, he sneezes in the face of courtroom decorum and protocol, pulling out a surprising defense that often works to the benefit of the accused.
But, don't be fooled. As fun as this lawyerly hullabaloo can be, Rake is essentially a soap opera. It's Greene's tumultuous personal life that grabs the most attention—his rollercoaster relationship with his ex-wife (and current spouse of his best friend); his desperate attempt to get in the good graces with his son, which leads to several prickly situations involving trysts involving his high school teacher; and finally the biggest storyline, Greene's abiding infatuation with a prostitute who's looking to start her own law career.
Between the soap opera elements and the offbeat courtroom melodrama, Rake comes away with a net benefit. Your enjoyment will hinge on how much you're into the characters, but thanks to the great work from Roxburgh, I am confident that won't be a problem.
One more note: These Australian TV shows come with looser parental restrictions than what we're used to here in the States, so you can expect plenty of profanity and moderates amount of nudity (limited, primarily, to the second episode).
The DVDs: Three discs, eight episodes, transferred in standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and served with a Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix. There are no subtitles and no extras.
Not Guilty. Always fun to watch a cokehead lawyer screw up. Especially if he's Australian!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BFS Video
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