I have one word for Thursday's premier of Rake on Fox... disappointing. Much like main character Keegan Dean's, played by Greg Kinnear, case, the potential for a big payoff was there, but in the end, this episode just didn't pan out.
Going into this episode, I thought this show would be right up my alley. I enjoy lawyer dramas, main characters with a dynamic and edgy attitude, and clever one liners. While there is still room to find its stride, Rake's premier only partially followed through on the previews' promise of those characteristics.
On being a lawyer drama, the show succeeded. Sure, it would have been a shock on the level of the Miracle on Ice if it hadn't, but Rake still came through on that point.
On delivering clever one liners, Rake came through about as well as Keegan did in paying his 59 grand debt. Which, if you didn't watch the premier, is to say it didn't deliver.
On having a main character with attitude... well, there it gets more complex.
The pro side of the ledger shows Keegan with devil may care attitude which is so necessary to a rake. He is selfish, egotistical, narcissistic, and more than a tad bit delusional.
The con side of the ledger shows a man that is more sad and pathetic than cocksure and in control. Unlike Dr. House (of the show House, duh) or Raymond “Red” Reddington (of The Blacklist), Keegan Dean's demeanor betrays a sad existence. His racy scene with a prostitute belies a sad love life, which is confirmed in his therapy session with his ex-wife. Every situation, whether it's winning a poker game only to get no money, being paid in fish, or getting pulled over with his friend's kids, shows a man whose life is more depressing than dynamic.
Even when Keegan does the right thing at the end, it struck me as a failure. He proves his intelligence and wit in figuring out his client, but the easy wrap up felt like a cop out on behalf of the show. Rather than being bold, Rake played it safe and followed the established pattern. There's a word for that... disappointing.
I will give Rake credit for two things. First, they successfully cross-promoted Greta van Sustren. That's just smart marketing. Why should Fox go to Nancy Grace, when your own news division will suffice? Second, the circular ending to the show was well done. Stylistically, a show feels complete when the ending connects to the beginning. (Learned that bit of magic in college.) By tying in the money collector and the line 'this is gonna be a conversation', Rake successfully wrapped up its premier. At least, they did so stylistically if not substantially.
Hopefully, I can do better and wrap up this post with substance and style, leaving you with a big payoff. If I can't, well, that would just be... disappointing.