27 January, 2008

Preview: "Raines"

"The series focuses on Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum), a 'mentally-haunted' LAPD detective, who interacts with imaginary manifestations of dead crime victims in order to solve criminal cases. Raines must deal with his unique, unintentional method, as it causes problems with his co-workers and in his personal life." (Wikipedia)

That's a very difficult premise to buy into and I probably wouldn't have even tried to sell it but I'm glad Graham Yost (Speed) and the network took a risk on it, even if ultimately the audience didn't, as I thought it was excellent.

Although the original pilot had some obvious miscasting, it was brilliant and looked gorgeous. It was like a cool indie film. The pilot was re-cast and re-shot to be a bit more like the standard acceptable television look.

I do miss the original undiluted tele noir concept but the style and wit still recall the likes of legends Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hamnett.

What I admire was the thinking outside of the box. There was a trend f0r supernatural drama with The Ghost Whisperer and Medium but rather than real ghosts, the ghosts are all in Raines' head. It's a way of giving us the police procedural but in a fresh way. It's not what you do but the way that you do it. Parodoxically, it's for intelligent viewers but doesn't require any deep thinking.

My nagging doubts about the pilot and the premise were addressed as the series went on and it improved from that very good start. One particular episode had me blubbling like a baby which is rare for such a hard man such as myself (I am chewing steel instead of gum as I type).

One thing to think about is how much these procedurals rely on someone to to explain things to and bounce ideas off. Raines works alone but is in effect talking to himself.

Disappointingly, the star, Jeff Goldblum, went on Britain's biggest chat show on Friday to promote a play, which will only be seen by a few rich Londoners and tourists, but he didn't say a word about this which millions loved. I really hope it's ITV's fault for not telling him it was about to start and not that he couldn't be arsed.

Despite its early cancellation and minor flaws Raines is still head and shoulders above most things on Freeview at the moment and is recommended.

Begins Monday 28 January 2007, 9:00pm on ITV3 for 7 episodes

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