I Psychoanalyze Dead People


I was ready to dismiss NBC's new drama, Raines, as a gimicky attempt to find some new meat on the procedural bone, as it were. It is gimicky, but it is more than an attempt.

Jeff Goldblum as Detective Raines is part Sam Spade, part Brownshoe (Raines even has an African American ex-partner), with more than a pinch of Monk-like neurosis.

The gimick is that Goldblum has conversations, part Socratic dialogue part analyst's couch conversation, with the victim whose murder he is solving, though they seem to be actually only internal monologues with his projection of the victim, which means they know no more than he does about who killed them.

So, there is Ghost Whisperer and some Medium in the mix. But what this show has that others don't is Goldblum, who like Tony Shalhoub is worth watching all by himself.

There was something slightly disturbing about his conversation with last night's victim, however. She was a young, beautiful hooker who kept morphing into sexy and/or diaphonous garb, casting occasional come-hither looks. The sexual tension between Goldblum/Raines and this deceased figment of his imagination was slightly offputting. I mean, he was flirting with death, literally.

But despite that, I liked the noirish feel–some of the scenes could as easily have been in black and white, with a "cheap motel" sign flashing in the background. There were various homages to the genre, including a poster of Double Indemnity in the dead girl's apartment, Goldblum's trench coat, collar turned up, and his deadpan delivery of many lines, particular the kicker about the murderer possibly "getting the needle."

The more I think about the show, the more I think I liked it.

By John Eggerton