TV Review: Rake – Season 3, Episode 4 (Australia, 2014)


It looks like things are slowly but surely returning to their natural state of comical disequilibrium in the world of Cleaver Greene. His career is given a boost when he receives his first personal request for counsel, and he finally has his bachelor pad to himself, now that Nicole and her crazy mother have taken the baby and moved in with Scarlet and Barney. Their move is doubly serendipitous for Cleaver, because Barney quickly realises that it would be less traumatic to juggle chemotherapy and working with Cleaver, than it would be to remain at home, wedged between his two women and their families. Which means that Cleaver has his solicitor back. So, work and home life are under control now.

All that’s missing in his life is a little bit of loving, and some of the best moments in this episode revolve around Cleaver getting his Mojo back after twelve months of celibate hell. He tries the usual options first: Wendy, Missy and his client (Felicity, the sexy psychologist, sister of Malcolm), but to no avail. Things do get desperate, although to Cleaver’s credit, never desperate enough for him to bed the minxy Gen Ys on offer at the bar. (Seems Cleaver learned a couple of things from last season’s debacle with the Hitchcockian schoolgirl killers!)

The legal case of the week centres around Phil (Anthony Phelan) and Vernon (John Flaus), two long-serving security blokes who, in an attempt to steal an expensive desk from their workplace, bungle their way into a murder charge. The crime takes place in the building of Tikki Wendon, (the media tycoon who ‘bought’ Cal McGregor a few episodes ago), and it’s clear from the start that things are more shifty than they appear. But Tikki uses her considerable media power to mangle the case in her favour and it seems the old guys are going in for life. Luckily, Phil and Vernon happen to have been close mates with Cleaver’s dearly departed ex-prison cellmate, Malcolm, and his sister Felicity engages Cleaver as their defence. It’s a wise move on her part, since Cleaver is probably the only guy around who is happy to employ the sort of shonky tactics required to get the poor old codgers off the hook. (It’s hammy, but not Scarlet-chundering-blueberry-muffin hammy.)

Meanwhile, the sad story of Barney’s illness continues to have a sobering impact on the otherwise jolly narrative and it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity for some good black humour. But it does give us moments when Cleaver shows what a good friend he really is. Cleaver and Barney’s conversations about life, death and the meaning of it all seem to be the only source of reprieve for poor old Barnyard. It’s moments like these we see that, despite everyone’s protestations to the contrary, Cleaver is actually, in his own befuddled way, very generous and intensely loyal. Which makes us barrack for him even more.

After last week’s bipolar episode, which clanged from slapstick to melodrama, this episode is subtler and much more dry– and truer to Rake form. Cleaver seems to have completely recovered from all the things that ailed him last week and he’s decided not to go down the Cocaine-addiction road, which is a relief. He’s a bit like an over-pumped tennis ball: he just keeps bouncing back with such exuberance that it’s almost dangerous! And we love him for it. It is comforting to know that nothing stays bleak in the world of Rake for very long. As well it shouldn’t.


Rake screens Sunday nights at 8.30pm on ABC1 and is also available on iView.


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