Rake the Complete Second Season
Buoyed by a mercurial performance by Richard Roxburgh, ‘Rake’ is not
only a shining example of great Australian television, but a shining
example of great television full stop.
Returning as the talented, albeit self destructive,
defense barrister Cleaver Greene, Roxburgh takes us into the mind of an
unscrupulous character who gallops into action for equally
defendants in a bizarre collection of cases that include murderous
school girls, accused terrorists, an areola fetishist and a serial
Bobbiter. Yep. That’s exactly what you think it is.
As deliciously kooky as these cases are, they merely provide the
framework for a character arc that brings Cleaver’s private life to the
forefront, eschewing the cocaine and gambling addiction fueled aspect of
the first season and focusing more on Cleaver’s torrid love life,
personal relationships and family issues that will eventually pave the
path to Cleaver’s inevitable downfall.
Roxburgh’s charismatic depiction of the morally reprehensible
protagonist is bolstered by a strong supporting cast, including Matt Day
and Damian Garvey as Cleaver’s nemeses
Sorry David" Potter and Cal McGregor. In Greene’s corner there’s his
best friend and Instructing Solicitor Barney and his long suffering
secretary Nicole, ably played by Russell Dykstra and Kate Box
Malcolm also puts in a great performance as Kirsty, who applies both
emotional and financial pressure to Cleaver’s already complicated
episode also has an impressive guest cast, Toni Colette, Jack Thompson,
Jacqueline McKenzie and Martin Henderson, playing a Julian Assange
analogue, all making an appearance.
Cleaver Greene’s personal life becoming more prominent has had an effect
on the “Case of the Week” structure of the previous series. Whilst
juggling a relationship with the matriarch of a crime syndicate he’s
heavily in debt to, Green also has to contend with the release of a
tell-all book written by an ex-prostitute in which he features
prominently, the sensationalist trial preparation for the defense of the
ex-prostitute’s current partner Joshua, who is up on treason charges due
to leaking government documents through his website “Good Plumbing”
(Sound familiar?) and come to terms with the death of his father and the
subsequent theft of his assets by a shady conman, leading to actions
that will have long standing ramifications for our anti-hero.
With a myriad of plot strands throughout each episode, some stories can
become a little muddled; during the second episode I completely forgot
about a subplot involving charity embezzlement due to the second case
featuring Garry McDonald as a retired English teacher who stages
political protests in his spare time. The writing for the most part is
impeccable, with every scathing retort or sardonic comment hitting their
mark. The comedy aspect of the show is also more noticeable this season,
although the show is still first and foremost a drama, some of the
ludicrous situations are so blackly comic you almost feel guilty for
taking pleasure in them. Of the eight episodes available in this set,
there is not one misstep.
Wooldridge & Anor
Video & Audio Quality
Some Australian programs are identifiable merely by their shared visual
aesthetic, mainly due to lower budgets, but visually ‘Rake’ holds up
well against the best of its American competition.
The DVD transfer is sharp and clear and the sound is of terrific
standard as well. There can be some noticeable aliasing in some scenes
but this is forgivable. The series is distinctly ‘Sydney’, evoking the
feel of the city through some beautiful cinematography and familiar
landmarks. The production quality of the series is second to none and
visually rates amongst the best Australian TV has to offer.
There are some slight extras on the third disc: A decent behind the
scenes featurette on the making of the second season, an amusing mock
interview with an in character Roxburgh and a collection of bloopers and
outtakes - Pretty much your standard flubbed lines and goofy on-set
behaviour. They don’t really add anything to the show but are a welcome
addition, although some episode commentaries would have been great.
List of features:
Interview with the Creators (16:45)
Blooper Reel (7:41)
Writers Peter Duncan and Andrew Knight have given us a great dramatic
series imbued with a heavily sardonic comedic pathos that deserves much
more recognition than it’s currently receiving. With a third season
already commissioned, now’s the time to catch up on the exploits of the
rakish Cleaver Greene and his futile attempts to break free of his
perpetual downward spiral before he reaches his inevitable demise, with
a surprising season finale leaving you absolutely chomping at the bit to
see what comes next. Highly recommended.