TV Series Review: Rake Season 3
by Callum B. Downes
What do you get when you cross a ‘reputable’ barrister with a prisoner, a womaniser, a clueless father, a jealous ex-husband, a cocaine addict and a loud mouth? The answer is Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh).
Serving time in the confides of a dingy, convict-style prison, the notoriously corrupt Cleaver seems to radiate an angelic glow in comparison to the maniacal serial killers and institutionalised homosexual opera singers surrounding him, during the introductory scenes of episode 1. Nothing is as it seems, however, with Cleaver Greene, and before you have time to cry blackmail, he’s back to his old tricks, preying on a vulnerable, once honourable ex-judge turned convict, to siphon highly confidential information in exchange for gaol yard protection.
In typical style, Cleaver charms and tongue twists his way through the acquittal process, ensuring his top secret political bombshell earns him the freedom his loved ones have been so earnestly craving for. Yet a cherished embrace isn’t what greets our protagonist as he enters the free world. Instead, what awaits is a tattered career, strained relationships and his old friend cocaine.
As Cleaver cooks his breakfasts on clothing iron stove tops and battles his way through his topsy-turvy life as a defamed Sydney law professional, the sub plots of the comparably insane characters of Rake become intertwined, culminating in a masterful crescendo of catastrophe by the end of the series.
This clever characterisation from producer Ian Collie sees political satire taken to whole new levels, with quirky interpretations of morning radio shock jocks, overweight mining magnates building casinos on the harbour side, desperately unrecognised state opposition leaders, drug dealing AFL trainers, incompetent drug addicted trade marketeers, gambling addicts feeding welfare payments into pokies and even diamond smugglers from Sudan.
Subtle and sometimes bravely obvious references to recent current affairs provide the foundations of the incredibly intellectual, seemingly impromptu and indescribably witty dialogue, which combines faultlessly with the simplistic outbursts of slapstick to create a truly engrossing comedy experience. Brief interjections of surprisingly powerful tragedies, ensures the audience remain attached to the characters on a more profound level than their hilarious surface.
Whether you follow Australian politics religiously, or if you just love a belly laugh, Rake will have you captivatingly shocked and shaking your head in self-assuring pity for the lives of its eccentric characters. It’s the best comedy on Australian television. So watch it!