Review: Rake and An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby

Review: Rake and An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby

By Mark HadleyTuesday 23 Nov 2010

Rake

Rating:  M
Distributor: ABC1
Release Date: 8:30 PM, Thursdays

Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) is a divorced irresponsible parent with money issues who frequents prostitutes, drinks too much and has a significant gambling problem. Hence the series title Rake, an old English term for ‘desperate rogue’.

The debut episode opens with him being beaten by a bookie’s hired muscle in search of defaulted debts; the second has him sleeping with a client who uses sex to gain witness statements.

Greene makes a habit of defending criminal low-life and also the occasional ‘impossible case’, and so the drama is equally split between his clients and a his personal life.

Rake is stacked with Australian talent, including Matt Day and guest appearances from the likes of Hugo Weaving. It has the seediness of Underbelly, including its penchant for overly explicit sex scenes. However the series also combines the back-street colour with a touch of real life sadness and a dash of black humour.

Rake’s producers claim it is based on real life stories from the legal profession, and from what I’ve heard through barrister friends, I can believe it.

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On the spiritual front Greene is a hopeless human being, but he is fuelled by the belief that ‘bad’ things just shouldn’t be allowed to happen. So, though he his part of the problem (a tax evader with a penchant for prostitution and illegal gambling), he actually carries a moral standard inside that rumpled suit.

“I believe in the law,” he tells his well-heeled friends, “It’s justice I don’t give a fig about.” Greene is rightly cynical, seeing the politicians, legal practitioners and other authorities he hangs around with. But believing that there should be a standard that holds some guilty and acquits those who are innocent, that’s justice isn’t it?

An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby

Rating:  PG
Distributor: Tuesdays, 8:30 PM

For the average western television viewer Africa must seem like a gigantic open wound.

Almost every time it features in our small screens it is in the contexts of desperate poverty or deplorable violence – and that’s just the people.

The continent itself is presented as one giant wilderness over-populated with ferocious animals and frenzied insects. Of course we know this can’t be a fair represenation, in the same way that Australian towns don’t all have kangaroos hopping down the main drag. So it’s a relief to see someone like Jonathan Dimbleby dispelling the illusions.

Jonathan Dimbleby is an experienced BBC journalist who has been visiting Africa for more than 40 years. He deliberately sets out to show us a continent characterized by hope rather than sadness. Episodes include a whistle-stop tour of countries like Nigeria, Lagos, Kenya and many more. This is not a celebrity travelogue, though. Dimbleby questions common mud-brick makers and African royalty with the considered approach we’ve come to expect from the BBC.

An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby is a refreshing program because it demonstrates that, in the midst of this world of fear, real fragments of the image of God are still on display in human lives, and the countries they inhabit.

Rather than depress you, this series will fire you with the need to continue the commission Christ left us.

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