LOGIES darling Lisa McCune goes topless, Hugo Weaving feasts on human flesh, Sam Neill is caught on camera doing beastly things and Rachel Griffiths incites racial hated as a radio shock jock – the ABC’s risque new drama Rake is certainly an equal opportunity offender.
But it’s also smart, stylish, laugh-out-loud funny and, just occasionally, touching.
Created by actor Richard Roxburgh and Unfinished Sky writer-director Peter Duncan and scripted by SeaChange co-creator Andrew Knight, the eight-part comedy-drama stars Roxburgh as Cleaver Greene, a roguishly charming Sydney lawyer who prefers hopeless cases.
That the scruffy barrister is a hopeless case too adds to the laughs as he swans from courtroom to bedroom, chased by the tax office and his bookie, dumped by his favourite hooker, pursued by his best mate’s missus and counselled through it all by his psychologist ex-wife.
The eight-part series, which counts Beautiful Kate’s Rachel Ward among its four directors, premieres on ABC1 on Thursday at 8.30pm – one of TV’s most competitive timeslots.
The first episode will be available at the ABC’s internet TV service iView from 8.30pm tomorrow, the first time the ABC has released a new Australian drama online before telecast.
The series opener – classified "M" for its f-words – guest-stars a suitably creepy Weaving as a mild-mannered economist accused of cannibalism and Sacha Horler as his horrified wife.
Geoff Morrell is a delight as the NSW attorney-general, who between visits to the same brothel as Cleaver demands prosecutors not let his struggling government look soft on cannibals.
The all-star cast also includes Matt Day, Noah Taylor, Russell Dykstra, Heather Mitchell and David Field, with four-time Gold Logie winner McCune going topless in episode two as Cleaver’s man-eating client/lover.