18 March 2014 | The_late_Buddy_Ryan
Long-running Aussie series might've jumped a few grite whoites along the way, but it still keeps chugging along...
Just two eps into season three, "Rake" was looking like one of the best TV series from anywhere, ever. I was dimly aware of Richard Roxburgh as a veteran Aussie actor who's done 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 race-baiting 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.
2018 update: All five seasons are now available for streaming on Netflix. Some of the later eps are a bit loosely plotted, to put it mildly, but the kangaroo court scene from season three (Rake makes the best jailhouse lawyer ever) is truly one of the funniest things I've ever seen!