Scott D. Pierce: ‘Rake’ is a terrible title, but give show a chance

First Published      Last Updated Jan 20 2014 09:07 am

There are things to like about Fox's new comedy/drama "Rake," but the title isn't one of them.

The show, which premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13, is about Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear), a defense attorney who's an alcoholic gambler who ruined his marriage because he slept around, is being chased by the IRS and has just in general made a mess of his life.

The "Rake" in the title comes from the definition of "a fashionable or wealthy man of dissolute or promiscuous habits."

"We're trying to pull in the highly coveted viewership of people who were alive during Elizabethan times," deadpanned executive producer Peter Tolan. "This will be the 350- to 400-year-old demo."

Tolan's presence on this project is reason to give it a chance. He's hilarious. He's best known as the showrunner who collaborated with Denis Leary on the great 2004-11 series "Rescue Me," and when they appeared at the Television Critics Association press tours, I laughed so hard I could barely breathe.

They also said they would never work in network TV again after they collaborated on the short-lived series "The Job" for ABC in 2001-02. Which Tolan is doing with "Rake," an adaptation of an Australian series that he's collaborating on with its creator, Peter Duncan. But he was prepared to tell us why — well, prepared to divert our attention from the question.

Tolan said he was "annoyed" that he'd gotten "an email from Fox publicity about what to talk about and what not to talk about. "I was so upset I actually wrote about it in my journal."

He he pulled it out and began to read from it, including:

"September 16th, first day of shooting for 'Rake.' Kinnear showed up drunk with a hooker named Tammy on his arm claiming it was part of his process. After the first shot, he demanded we give Tammy a producer credit.

"September 20, call from [Fox president] Kevin Reilly. He feels 'Rake' will be a better fit on Fox if one of our main characters has no head. No idea how to respond, but cut most of [co-star] John Ortiz's lines.

"October first, Peter Duncan still speaking Australian. Can't understand a[n expletive] word.

"October 11, Tammy no longer with us. Got an overall at 20th [Television]. Sold her first pitch to ABC, an hour called 'Maniacal, Murdering Whores.'"

"October 25th, why is Lena Dunham naked all the time on "Girls." I don't get it."

"December 10, Apparently the people at Fox publicity think I'm a child. They sent an email today about the TCAs next month, which included, get this, a list of things not to be discussed. Top of the list, no surprise — 'Dads.' "

I was not crazy about the original "Rake" pilot, but they have since shot four episodes that will precede that episode. I like the new premiere.

And I'm on board for whatever Tolan is working on.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.