Greg Kinnear’s return to full-time television comes in the form of one of the oddest-named shows in recent years: Rake, 9 p.m. Thursdays.
He plays the role of Keegan Deane, a criminal defense lawyer who may be long on legal skills but is short on social etiquette or the fortitude not to gamble himself into misery. The Fox show is based on an Australian series of the same weird name.
Deane has so many flaws that even Kinnear’s not certain he would want him handling a case.
“I don’t mean that as an indictment on the guy,” Kinnear says. “At the end of the day, he’s — for the most part — brilliant at that aspect of his life in spite of all the other sort of self-destructive mechanisms in his life. I was intrigued immediately when I saw the show as to the mess of that guy, and that kind of absolute lack of need for approval is a hugely attractive thing, especially if you’re an actor.”
This is a character who at times has a great self-awareness of what he’s doing to himself but at other times is on a blind path to destruction. The appeal of the character is why Kinnear switched back to TV after making a series of feature films, including Little Miss Sunshine, Flash of Genius and The Last Song. He got assurances from executive producer Peter Tolan — one of the wacky minds behind Rescue Me — that Rake wouldn’t be a typical TV legal drama.
Deane sees plenty of court time, but he also has to deal with an I.O.U. with his bookie that grows faster than the national debt. There’s also a variety of women in his life, including a current love interest, an ex-wife and a high-priced prostitute. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s dealing with an offspring that appears to be following in his dad’s often twisted footsteps.
Rake has plenty of dramatic moments, but it also gets Kinnear back to his comedy roots.
“It’s tricky to try and find that comedic / drama balance, which is what appealed to me — doing that mix,” he says. “It’s certainly what I think I was most intrigued by, in terms of getting on board with this.”