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Kinnear elevates ‘Rake’ slightly above the usual mediocre legal drama

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Greg Kinnear is a lawyer with some serious issues in Fox’s Rake.

Two and a half stars

Rake Thursdays, 9 p.m., Fox.

It’s a good thing the title character of Fox’s Rake is a top-notch lawyer, because he’s got enough personal problems for Gregory House and Alan Shore combined: He’s a gambling addict in debt to some shady characters; he’s in love with a prostitute; he’s a heavy drinker and former drug user; he’s lost both his car and his driver’s license; he lacks a permanent home or office; he’s being pursued by the IRS for back taxes. And that’s just in the two episodes provided for review.

Somewhere around dealing with all those issues, Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) finds time to practice law, often defending clients no one else will take on (an alleged serial killer, a cannibal). Deane may be a scoundrel, but Kinnear gives him the right amount of charm, and he ends up being mostly likable despite his numerous flaws. Although Deane’s cases can be sensationalistic, they boil down to pretty familiar legal-procedural mechanics. And while the tumultuous nature of his personal life gives the show a unique identity, it also feels like the creators are trying too hard to prove that they haven’t just made yet another show about a defense lawyer. TV is full of standard-issue legal dramas, and it’s okay that this is one of them.

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