Series: Rake

A 2010 Australian comedy series about the antics of an irascible, hedonistic, self-destructive lawyer operating in central Sydney - Mr Cleaver Greene, portrayed by Richard Roxburgh.

Rake is a slow-burning comedy set within the justice system of New South Wales, and each episode revolves around peculiar or well-publicized court cases that grab Cleaver's attention. In addition to his ongoing rebellion against the justice system, there are ongoing subplots about his relationship with ex-prostitute "Missy", his ongoing battle against the Australian Tax Office, his gambling debts to dubious underworld gangsters, and the dissolving relationship between Barney and Scarlet, his best friends from university.

The series is noted for its well-written episodes (they manage to avoid most of the legal jargon seen in other court shows), and strong acting (with plenty of guest stars every episode).

In January 2014, a US remake starring Greg Kinnear began airing on the Fox network, but only lasted one season.

This show provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: in the US remake, Cleaver becomes "Keegan Deane," Missy becomes "Mikki" (short for "Michaela" as opposed to Melissa), Ben & Scarlet's last names become "Leon," and Nicole becomes "Leanne."
  • All Star Supporting Cast: Hugo Weaving as a cannibal in the first episode and Sam Neill as a doctor who as a three-way with the family dog are probably the biggest name guest stars but by no means all
  • Amoral Attorney: Cleaver Greene - being an extremely proficient lawyer, Cleaver will twist the rules, consult outside sources and even SLEEP with his clients if he thinks it'll help.
    • Played with; while Cleave does some pretty amoral things he's shown to have genuine moral compass that prevents him from defending people who don't deserve his help like Eddie Langhorn, Damien Trengrove or Mick Corella.
  • Amusing Injuries: Cleaver casually attempting to play backgammon with Barney, right after having his nose broken by Col.
    Barney: Oh, please, I can't see the board with you dripping blood...
    Cleaver: Well I apologise for my subdural haematoma inconveniencing you, mate!
  • Author Avatar: Executive producer Charles Waterstreet is himself a practising barrister from Sydney with a reputation that precedes him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cleaver and Scarlet have a simmering, powerful attraction to each other dating back to their university days, but for various reasons, neither one is ever willing to commit to the other.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: In a case Ripped from the Headlines Cleaver Defends a man charged with having Three-Way Sex with the family dog and his wife.
  • Big Bad: Attorney General Cal McGregor for season 2.
  • Becoming the Mask/Secret Identity Identity: Missy goes through a variation of this.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As of season 2 - Cleaver has successfully brought down Cal McGregor, but is stuck with fourteen years in prison for conspiracy to commit manslaughter.
  • Butt Monkey: Cleaver Greene sometimes he deserves some of the things that happen and sometimes he doesn't.
    • Both Keegan and Ben in the US remake, with Keegan getting it from the mayor, the police, and all of his loan sharks, and Ben getting it from his coworkers.
  • The Casanova: Cleave has no trouble whatsoever in hooking up with the opposite sex, and has a long string of affairs and sexual trysts with various married women. Not to mention his regular visits to the brothel.
    • Even his ex-wife Wendy briefly falls in love with Cleave all over again in series 2.
    • Subverted with Missy, who spurns nearly every advance he ever makes on her after she quits the brothel.
  • Camp Gay: in the US remake, Keegan's Straight Gay pimp poses as such in order to avoid being perceived as a Scary Black Man when expecting delinquent johns to pay him.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Cleaver gets up and watches TV in the early hours, and during some rolling credits, the channel announces that Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'Rope' is on next. This flicks a lightbulb in Cleaver's head, and it turns out that this exact movie was the inspiration for a stabbing by two sociopathic teenage girls (one of who Cleaver is defending).
    • This trope is sorely abused in almost every episode of series 3.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: lawsuit equivalent in the US remake's episode "Staple Holes," where Keegan wins the case on Day 1 of the trial by noticing some staple holes in a document entered into evidence much to the dismay of his coworkers who wanted it to go on for a long time simply to rack up billable hours.
  • Defictionalization: The barristers of New South Wales love this show and this character so much that they're happy to pretend there is a real Cleaver Greene running around in real life, up to and including having Roxburgh send video messages in character at social functions.
  • Driven to Suicide: Attorney General Joe Sandilands throws himself off a cliff after scandalous media revelations about his brothel visits. He is shown cheerfully whistling to some classical music in his car only moments before.
  • Expy: Missy starts dating Joshua Floyd in the second season; Floyd is wanted internationally for treason after leaking sensitive government information via his website in a situation not at all unlike that of Julian Assange in real life.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Melissa "Missy" Partridge used to be one of these and much of her plot is about covering this fact up.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Professor Graham Murray in the pilot. Unlike most examples of the trope, Murray is not villainous nor murderous, instead being rather curious and ultimately regretful of his culinary choices.
  • Karma Houdini: Immoral con-artist Lane Hole is set up as this in series 2. He is dragged to court by Cleaver, harassed in person and even has a hit from Cleave's gang mates placed on his head, but he miraculously escapes every single encounter through sheer luck and fate.
    • This is finally averted right at the end of series 2, when Lane faceplants after Fuzz knocks him off his bike. It's a tiny consolation though, as Cleaver is imprisoned for 14 years for conspiring to murder Lane.
  • Kavorka Man: Barney is a fat, balding, soppy old romantic, with barely a tenth of the nihilism and hedonism that Cleave possesses. Not only is he married to the rather MIL Fy Scarlet, he has an affair with secretary Nicole, and ends up with both women living with him together in the same house.
  • Mad Artist: Denny Lorton the accused in one episode killed a Rent Boy in the name of art.
  • May-December Romance: This becomes a Running Gag with Cleaver's teenage son Fuzz, who exclusively dates much older women, ranging from his teachers, his mum's friends and even the wives of foreign diplomats.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: The legal profession loves this show. While the situations depicted are over-the-top (but some are grounded in real facts), the general feel of a barrister's practice in the Criminal law is accurate and hilariously funny, much in the same way that doctors think that Scrubs is the most accurate description of what it feels like to be a practising doctor in media.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the second episode, one scene shows David and Melissa having a humorous discussion about Melissa's fictitious relative Angus. The next scene has David getting shot twice in an attempted murder.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Political activist Joshua Floyd appears to be styled as a thinly-disguised Julian Assange.
  • OutGambitted: Cleaver publically trolls, trashes and coaxes Cal and the DPP into upgrading his charges, from 'Manslaughter of Albert Platt' to 'Murder of Albert Platt', on the premise that Murder would be impossible to prove and therefore leading to automatic acquittal. It seems like a great piece of Xanatos Speed Chess, until Cleave finds out he's been out-gamed; the charges are unexpectedly upgraded to 'Conspiracy to Murder Lane Hole' instead.
    • This mistake proves extremely costly for Cleave, who is found guilty of Conspiracy to Murder, and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. The original Manslaughter charge would have only gotten him two years.
  • Race Lift: in the US remake Ben becomes Latino and Scarlet becomes Persian.
  • Running Gag: After his release from prison, Cleave insists to everyone around him that he was 'exonerated' of all charges, but practically the entire city knows he was actually 'acquitted'. He doesn't succeed in fooling anybody.
  • Setting Update: the US remake transplants it to Los Angeles.
  • The Nicknamer: Cleaver Greene, especially where Harry-sorry-David Potter, the Shadow Minister for Toasters, Lobotomies and Nasal Hair is concerned.
  • Those Two Guys: During their political careers, David Potter and Cal Mc Gregor both have their own pairs of sycophantic special advisors who follow them everywhere.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Finn, Cleaver's son, has a relationship with his English teacher which lasts until she drops him for a younger boy.
  • Teens Are Monsters: In the second season Cleaver ends up defending (and sleeping with) Michelle, who is charged with killing one of the actors in her student film. When Cleave determines the murder was deliberate, Michelle attempts to blackmail him into continued service by revealing she's not even 16 yet.
  • Triang Relations: Cleaver<- Missy ->David "Harry" Potter
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Lots of examples of this, mainly concerning Cleave and his use/abuse of the mainstream media. However, his best example is managing to get out of prison, 11 months into his term, simply by uttering a controversial, career-damaging-yet-innocuous word in front of a corrupt judge at his appeal.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Frequently.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: A lot of season one's legal proceedings are based on interesting aspects from cases in the casebook of one of the Executive Producers (who is a practising barrister).