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47 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Great people can be dysfunctional

10/10
Author: TesaRants from Somewhere
5 September 2012

This TV series tries not to lecture too much in order to recognize that people who are good at their jobs can have many other flaws. In other words, this series is very engaging because it has characters who are not wooden or black and white. Most characters in the show are somewhat dysfunctional and yet they have decent core values. And the most dysfunction is the main character who happens to be an excellent lawyer dealing with very difficult to defend cases or sometimes guilty people.

The acting and the dialog is superb. Every single episode that I have seen has been well written and that is not always the case even for many great TV shows. This show also manages to incorporate comedy, drama and suspense very well.

I love it and I wish that there were more episodes.

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34 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Off to a flying start

9/10
Author: Steve Shanahan from Canberra, Australia
31 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's obviously a bit early to tell after one episode, but I reckon that this series could be a beauty.

There wasn't a moment when the pace flagged or you felt you were in a scene that wasn't propelling the narrative forward. Each scene added to the exposition and the atmosphere, while managing to be entertaining and not too contrived.

The script clearly has class and wit and the casting and acting are top notch.

In the end, you've just got to love a show that has you crying and laughing at the same time when Professor Murray appeals to the court despairingly "I'm not a murderer! I'm an economist!"

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35 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

One of Australia's best shows

10/10
Author: kimmoth from Australia
10 September 2012

I was overjoyed to hear this show is back, and stunned to realise I'd forgotten about it (although it's been a year without a season).

Being reminded of its existence, let alone the prospect of another season, was enough to cause uncontrollable grinning.

I love everything about it. The production values, the writing, the casting, the acting, it's all superb. But what I love most about it is the show's timbre; its aim and stance; its beautifully human angle. Many bonus points also for the regular moments of absolute hilarity.

After watching the first episode of the second season, I can't wait for next week... this will get the long months waiting for the final instalment of Breaking Bad off to a good start.

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24 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Anti-hero is a sympathetic character

9/10
Author: kgratton from Melbourne, Australia
27 January 2013

Every once in a (long) while the Australian TV industry can dig up a gem. You're never quite sure which network will produce the next 'East West 101' or 'MDA', but chances are that an intriguing new show will turn up on the government-owned ABC.

That is certainly the case with 'Rake', which I understand has been signed off for a third season - and is also the model for an American version to go into production shortly.

I wouldn't have bothered writing a review for this series, but felt compelled to respond to remarks from reviewer colbur-1. Many of the actors making cameo appearances in this show are well-known names, as other reviewers have noted, but of the regulars probably only Richard Roxburgh would be well known outside the framework of this series.

Regrettably, I don't see any of the "cringeworthy jingoism" or 1960s insularity. This is an immensely entertaining show if you can stand the robust language and moral ambivalence. But even in that context the heroic stature of Matt Day's character serves as a foil to Roxburgh's.

The beauty of this series, beyond the wonderful character development, is that the stories overcome that stumbling block of Australian film and TV: mediocre script writing. Being based on reality and frequently drawing on true life situations 'Rake' eases willing suspension of disbelief even as it descends further into the surreal.

It's a show that will shock and amuse; it's by no means a typical sitcom, but it's real life, with its flawed villains and cynics - mostly with their redeeming virtues. Even farm girl-turned-mobster and part-time lusty wench Kirsty - played by Robyn Malcolm - has her own reasons for her actions.

And if that isn't enough to draw you in to watch this show, I don't know what will.

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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

real life

8/10
Author: peterm1 from Australia
26 May 2012

While the cases in this series are over the top, believe it or not the main character in this is based on real person. Charles Waterstreet a Sydney barrister whose life is apparently every bit as colorful as the series would have you believe . Real life is stranger than fiction. Especially at the New South Wales bar, apparently. Waterstreet is mate of Richard Roxborough the star of the series who plays him in it. A younger and more handsome version as Roxborough smilingly says in one interview. The point is if you enjoy this series you should google waterstreet and find out more about him. As for me while something tells me he is the kind of guy who creates chaos in the lives of people around him, there is something about him that I find admirable and engaging. And this comes across in the show. PS love the show.

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23 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Refreshingly irreverent law and disorder show

9/10
Author: jatrudel from United States
22 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

that's about as subtle as a whoopie cushion, this series is one of the finer representations of the human comedy if there ever was one; Honore De Balzac would have loved it. Only the Aussies could take a Fish called Wanda and turn it into a Shark Called Sheila. This show has something for everyone - comedy, tragedy, buffoonery, you name it. Neither adult men and women nor the legal profession will ever be looked upon in the same light again.

*****Spoiler alert**** Our hero is a barrister who wanders through life fixing miscarriages of justice while playing both straight man and the fool to his friends, foes and lovers. Along the way he collects women to help him address his various and sundry insecurities, but it only adds to the confusion when they express empathy, then invariably leave. He has a kind and trusting soul, and they do eventually gravitate back, using him to recharge their feelings of self-worth before sallying forth again. In one episode he finds himself besieged by his ex slash psychiatrist, his former prostitute slash legal intern, and his partner's wife as they each individually seek asylum in his apartment, and all three end up sleeping together in his bed while he sleeps alone on the couch. Rated R for nudity and f-bombs.

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22 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Aussie TV well worth your time if you love a good bad boy . . .

8/10
Author: purrlgurrl from United States
4 May 2014

Not being Australian and completely unfamiliar with Australian TV, I came to Rake without any expectations or preconceived notions. I find the show is hilarious and mesmerizing at the same time, in no small part due to Roxburgh's performance. He's terrific as a cad with a heart of 14K gold plated brass.

In some ways, Rake is reminiscent of, but doesn't imitate, the great Robbie Coltrane series, Cracker, with both lead characters brilliant in their professional lives, yet exasperatingly self-destructive train wrecks once they're off the clock.

The show's been Americanized by Fox, starring Greg Kinnear (an actor of whom I'm a big fan), but I'm avoiding the Fox series because I've been told the edge of the Australian original was sanded down for American audiences. But, it's the sharp edge that I enjoy. If you can get your hands on the OZ version of Rake, you ought to watch it. It's really good TV.

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20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Foolishly avoided this when it first came out

10/10
Author: peterbreis from Australia
24 March 2014

…but have rectified that with desperate anticipation driven out of absolute addiction.

It is magnificently written, cast, structured and performed.

What makes it most riveting to those of us blessed with living in and around the actual locations and situations, is that lots of the stories are absolutely true (given a few exaggerations here and there) with "only the names changed to protect the guilty".

I can't imagine how they got filming permission for the scenes in the actual NSW parliament, when the story line revolved around the rottenness of our recently evicted government.

If only the real party hacks were as funny as their corruption is real. Maybe we could actually forgive them. Instead they are dull, boring, incompetent and corrupt, very little amusement value there.

Hard to imagine anyone ever playing the role of Cleaver Green to the hilt the way Richard Roxborough has. Having seen the dull, American rendition, makes Richard's performance only shine the more brilliantly.

I hope there are many more series in the pipeline. This show is honestly the best I have seen in decades. Right up there with Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones. And a whole lot funnier! :)

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

His life can only be described as a f——in trinewrick…

9/10
Author: The_late_Buddy_Ryan from UWS, NYC, USA
18 March 2014

Just two eps into season three, this is looking like one of the best TV series from anywhere, ever. Was dimly aware of Richard Roxburgh as a veteran Aussie actor who's in a lot of action flicks; he's a revelation here as Cleaver Greene, a Sydney trial lawyer with a gambling habit, multiple substance-abuse issues and a private life that can only be described as a f——in trinewrick. The scripts are inventive and very funny, Cleaver's drunken harangues in inappropriate venues especially so; the cases are sometimes based on real-world causes célèbres (like the cannibal who advertised online for a dinner partner), the ongoing dramedy of Cleaver's personal life is involving (and very funny), and the ep where Cleaver gets out of a slump by defending an Assange-like activist who's charged with treason is positively uplifting. The supporting cast is amazing; Australian TV seems to have a very deep bench of beautiful actresses who can really act, starting with Adrienne Pickering as Cleaver's love interest and onetime Xena sidekick Danielle Cormack as a cougar prosecutor. Guest spots by Aussie notables like Rachel Griffiths as a racebaiting shock jock, Toni Collette as a randy politician and Hugo Weaving as the cannibal—and those crispy accents with the foot-long vowel sounds—make this fabulous show even more delightful. First two seasons are available for streaming on Netflix, the third (even better!) is available on DVD. The kangaroo court scene from season three is one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Beyond brilliant, on every level

10/10
Author: fung0 from Canada
20 February 2015

I tripped over this show on my way to the US remake, which caught my attention because of the presence of the always-likable Greg Kinnear. I'm very glad I tried the Australian original first. The US version is derivative and downright dreary; the original sparkles, with both razor-sharp satire and equally sharp-edged drama.

Rake manages to fuse comedy, courtroom trickery, human drama and even some odd moral allegory. All these facets are apparent in the first show, when Greene must defend a cannibal (brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving) - who just happens to be a free-market economist, and who (like most free-market economists) sees nothing wrong with what he has done. In the next show, Greene tries to get an innocent woman convicted, then is forced to switch and get a guilty one acquitted. Then he defends a bigamist, who just happens to be a model husband - more than once.

Greene's approach to the defence in each case is both clever and believable, in a way that most courtroom fiction is not. It reminds me of the best of Rumpole, with that series' ability to feel sympathy even for the guilty, and its reliance on astute legal trickery to make things come out 'right' in the end. Not to mention its ability to make us question just what 'right' means, in each case.

Rake has immediately leaped onto my list of top ten TV shows *ever*. It's as funny, vulgar and painfully real as the brilliant British sitcom Still Game. Yet it's equally compelling dramatically. It definitely has things to say, but it slips these points in subtly, slyly, when you're not looking.

Jack Lemon (speaking about The Apartment) said his ideal role was one that was both comedy and drama. That describes Rake perfectly. Richard Roxburgh may not be the equal of Lemon (who is?), but he comes through superbly as Cleaver Greene. The other roles are similarly well-handled, many of them by actors who will be very familiar to fans of Australian cinema.

The US version of Rake seems like a quality production, and I may give it another try, though I admit I was unable to get through the first episode. The show seems predictably gutless, unable to embrace the moral ambiguity of the Greene character. Kinnear ends up playing a dysfunctional loser, where Roxburgh scintillates as exactly what he should be: a rake - an utterly likable rogue, a womanizer, a vagabond. A man who has no choice but to live by his own rules, and who adheres to no moral code but his own.

I don't register a 10/10 rating very often, but in this case I felt like it was barely high enough. My advice: track down this show by whatever means necessary, and see it immediately.

UPDATE: Rake is back for a 4th season. There's no question that the original brilliance has dimmed just a bit. The first season focused on legal shenanigans. Successive seasons have become more of an improbably Rake-ish soap opera. They're still a load of fun, but maybe in the 8-9/10 range. Still, the approach remains unique, and it's always a pleasure to see Roxburgh chewing up the scenery as the quintessentially Australian anti-hero, Cleaver Greene.

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