Sunday, February 18, 2018
TV and Media

Review: Greg Kinnear charms in 'Rake', but do we really need another antihero?

It would be easy to write off Rake as a bad House ripoff. The show, which premieres tonight on Fox, has all of the same cliches we've seen in the glut of antihero dramas over the past decade.

There's the irascible, white male protagonist who's great at his job, the doting female stereotypes in his life, the shortcomings he tries to forget about with booze.

In this case, it's Greg Kinnear as a brilliant yet reprehensible lawyer named Keegan Deane. He's in some sort of relationship with a prostitute. He gambles and drinks. He's not a pleasant person to be around. None of this is as shocking as the show wants it to be, not 10 years after Hugh Laurie brought pill-popping doctor Gregory House to life on this same network.

But based on the first episode made available for critics, Rake, which is based on an Australian show of the same name, is too entertaining to dismiss. It will, however, need to work pretty hard to overcome its tired premise.

The first time we see Keegan (really with that name?), he's getting sloshed at a sports bar before getting into an altercation with his bookie over his $59,000 gambling debt. He wakes up the next morning in his best friend's house, where he's been an unwelcome guest for the past two months after his recent divorce (shocker!).

The show clearly wants us to see that Keegan is a mess. He can't even take his buddy's kids to school without getting pulled over by the cops. Okay, we got it. That's fine for a premiere episode, but now it's time to tone down those scenes; they're just not that compelling.

The premiere's most interesting moments come when Keegan goes to work. He's a good lawyer, and it's a relief to see him not screwing something up. The episode sets up an interesting case about a new client, a confessed serial killer (Peter Stormare) who might not be as guilty as he seems. Luckily, none of the lawyer stuff is played too straight, kind of like on The Good Wife, which has a silly-serious tone this show would be wise to emulate.

What saves Rake from being completely tiresome is Kinnear. He's a great pick for a pretentious know-it-all, given that he's played some version many times in his decades-long movie career (As Good As It Gets, Little Miss Sunshine). Kinnear nails the comedic moments (the opening, heavily inebriated scenes) and the serious ones. If he weren't so watchable, the show wouldn't be.

So far, the show's biggest shortcoming is its wholly uninteresting female characters. Keegan's friend's wife, also a lawyer, is introduced via her husband worrying that she'll scold him about Keegan's drunk presence in their home. Yeah, she's a real downer. The prostitute Keegan has an ongoing relationship with and his very helpful secretary Leanne (you know, the one who cleans up his messes) are reduced to silly cliches. At least his therapist ex-wife seems savvy. More scenes with her would be good for Kinnear's character.

None of the supporting characters are very memorable or on par with Kinnear, and that's something the show will need to remedy if it's going to remain interesting for an hour each week.

In fact, after watching the first episode I had to wonder: Would the show work better as a half-hour comedy?

There's an entire side-plot about Keegan trying to sell some fish a client gave him so he can pay his bookie that could be excised completely. It boosts the comedy quotient, but it's still unnecessary. The elements of the show that do work would pop more in a shorter episode.

Comments

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosDaytona 5003 p.m.Fox; 102.5-FMBowlingPBA: 60th Anniversary Challenge1 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballWomen: USF at UCFnoonCBSSN; 1040-AMWomen: Wake Forest at N.C. StatenoonESPNUWomen: Miami at Virginia12:30 p.m.Fox SunDuke at Clemson1 p.m.Ch. 44...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: PowerShares QQQ 300 qualifying9:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: PowerShares QQQ 3002:30 p.m.FS1College baseballIllinois-Chicago vs. Southern3:30 p.m.MLBAlabama State vs. New Orleans7 p.m.MLBCollege basketballSMU at UCF11 a.m.ESPNUSyracuse at Mi...
Published: 02/16/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

What to watch this weekend: ‘Everything Sucks!’ on Netflix, ‘Wreck-It-Ralph,’ ‘Star Trek’

1996 MISFITS: EVERYTHING SUCKSAdd this one to your list if you were alive in the 1990s. Even if you weren't in high school, it's sure to bring back memories of Fruitopia, Oasis, flannel shirts and Alanis Morissette. Everything Sucks is a quirky comin...
Published: 02/16/18
Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Disney World announces June opening date for Toy Story Land

Get ready for a playdate with Andy's toys. Disney World just announced the opening date for Toy Story Land. The area in Disney's Hollywood Studios is set to open June 30, just in time for the busy summer season, The Orlando park announced Friday on ...
Published: 02/16/18
Angela Bassett gives a shoutout to her hometown of St. Petersburg on her new show ‘9-1-1’

Angela Bassett gives a shoutout to her hometown of St. Petersburg on her new show ‘9-1-1’

It's hard to keep up with St. Petersburg native Angela Bassett. She plays the queen of Wakanda and mother of the titular hero in probably the biggest movie of the year, Black Panther, which hits theaters this weekend, and is also promoting the upcomi...
Published: 02/15/18

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Can-Am Duel7 p.m.FS1College basketballWomen: S. Illinois at UT-Martin5 p.m.ESPNUWomen: Purdue at Maryland6 p.m.Big TenWomen: Alabama at Tennessee6:30 p.m.SECPurdue at Wisconsin7 p.m.ESPNTemple at Wichita State7 p.m.ESPN2...
Published: 02/15/18
What if ‘Seinfeld’ was back on TV? 'It's possible,' teases Jerry Seinfeld

What if ‘Seinfeld’ was back on TV? 'It's possible,' teases Jerry Seinfeld

What if Seinfeld was back on TV in 2018 with new episodes and not reruns? What would it be like? Would Jerry get an iPad? Would Elaine use Tinder? “It’s possible,” responded Jerry Seinfeld to a question about a Seinfeld revival po...
Published: 02/14/18
Review: ‘Everything Sucks!’ pits A/V club freaks against drama club geeks in 1996-set teen drama

Review: ‘Everything Sucks!’ pits A/V club freaks against drama club geeks in 1996-set teen drama

Netflix's new series Everything Sucks!, well, doesn't.The nostalgic dramedy is set in 1996 and follows two groups of misfit teens as they navigate the awkward, the hormonal and the downright dull aspects of life in suburban Boring, Ore.It sounds a lo...
Published: 02/14/18

Wednesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballUSF at UCF6 p.m.ESPNews; 820-AMIowa at Michigan6:30 p.m.Big TenClemson at Florida State7 p.m.Fox Sun; 1010-AMVirginia Tech at Duke7 p.m.ESPN2Kansas State at Oklahoma State7 p.m.ESPNUMississippi State at Vanderbilt7 p.m.SECVilla...
Published: 02/13/18
Chris Rock's first stand-up special in 10 years comes out this week

Chris Rock's first stand-up special in 10 years comes out this week

After a long stint away, Chris Rock is coming home.On Wednesday, one decade after his last stand-up special, Kill the Messenger, Rock, one of the most acclaimed stand-up comics alive, will release a new Netflix production, shot at the Brooklyn Academ...
Published: 02/13/18