Friday, March 23, 2007

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: Raines

The first time I saw Jeff Goldblum it was on the short lived TV series Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. I was reminded of that program when I was watching two new shows on NBC’s Must See Thursday night lineup. The first show was Andy Richter's new series Andy Barker PI and later Jeff Goldblum’s new show Raines. This new show has elements of Monk, Medium and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe. Jeff Goldblum stars as the eccentric LAPD Detective Michael Raines who like Monk is obsessive and has not been the same since suffering a traumatic event. After recuperating from being shot in the line of duty Raines returns to work but now he has begun to see murder victim Sandy Boudreau (Alexa Davalos) as a vision. Like on Medium, Raines talks to the victim except this vision is a figment of his imagination not a ghost. The vision starts out as two-dimensional character and as Raines learns more about her she develops more layers. When Rains finds her killer she will disappear. The only person Raines confides in is his former partner, Charlie Lincoln (Malik Yoba). Like Jeff Goldblum’s character Lionel Whitney from Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Raines speaks to the audience through a noir style voice over complete with sax music in the background. Raines also shares Lionel Whitney's love for detective novels. He even considered writing a novel himself but becoming a police officer got in the way. He found out that the images he had in his head weren’t like real life. I always find it amusing when fictional TV cop/detectives make it known that they are real unlike the fake cop/detectives on TV, in the movies or in pulp novels. This show makes the distinction between Raines' "real world" and the world of his pulp heroes Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald but it does so with great reverence.

It is obvious that I liked the pilot a lot, but I never judge a show by it’s pilot.

The next episode, Meet Juan Doe, opens with a voice over of Detective Michael Raines recapping what we learned in the pilot. I like the noir style opening of the pilot better, but I understand that this was done to clarify the show’s premise to the audience. Hopefully the noir style opening will return. I also miss Raines’ partner Charlie who only appears early in the episode. I looked at the Raines - Bios page but Malik Yoba is not there. It looks like the role of confidant will now be Dr. Samantha Kohl (Madeleine Stowe). Raines was ordered to meet with Dr. Kohl after he was seen talking to himself by his fellow officers. I hope these changes were not the network’s attempt to fix things that I personally don’t see as broken because I really liked what I saw in the pilot. I guess I’ll have to keep watching. I wonder if this show will help the sale of Raymond Chandler novels.

To quote Detective Michael Raines, "All these stories start with a body".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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