RAINES. NBC-TV, March 15 thru April 27 2007. Created by Graham Yost. Cast: Detective Michael Raines: Jeff Goldblum, Captain Lewis: Matt Craven, Carolyn : Nicole Sullivan, Lance: Linda Park, Boyer: Dov Davidoff. Recurring Characters: Dr. Kohl: Madeline Stowe, Charlie: Malik Yoba.

RAINES Jeff Goldblum

    Raines is a rare example of a creative television series with a premise so different even the seasoned TV mystery fan will be pleasantly surprised.

   Detective Michael Raines is a failed writer turned homicide detective who needs to talk out the crime with someone. When he loses his partner, and no one else will partner with him because they think he is a weird jerk, Raines turns to the dead victims.

   Raines is not Topper meets Sherlock Holmes. The dead victims are not ghosts but figments of Raines’ own imagination. Because of this, the victims can not tell Raines anything he does not know. In “Fifth Step,” the victim’s head had been shot off by a shotgun blast. Raines sees the headless victim walking around until he sees a picture of her.

   In each episode we watch how the victim changes as Raines learns more about the dead person. In the pilot, Raines imagines the dead girl as a young innocent woman. As he learns more that image changes. When he learns she may have had an affair with a married man, Raines’ image of her changes to resemble Kathleen Turner in Body Heat, complete with the film’s theme song playing on the soundtrack.

RAINES Jeff Goldblum

   As Raines and the viewer learn more about the dead body the character of the victim becomes more developed. No longer is the victim just a body to start the mystery. He or she becomes more and more real to the viewer, so much so we mourn the loss and tragedy of the victim’s death.

   Raines is eager to solve the case and get the victim out of his head. When he does solve the mystery, we have grown close enough to the victim to share Raines’ relief and sadness of closure.

   The humor is dark, sarcastic, and at times can be laugh out loud funny. With the dead victim hovering around Raines waiting for answers, we feel the anger that fuels such humor. As a result the humor in this series has substance that is rare outside Raymond Chandler.

   Jeff Goldblum is perfect as Raines, a man who lives with the terror he might be insane, yet driven to help find closure for the dead victims and those close to them.

RAINES Jeff Goldblum

   Award winning showrunner Graham Yost (Justified, The Pacific) enjoys twisting the normal roles and rules of the mystery genre. In “Meet Juan Doe,” the police artist wants to do “graphic novels” and his sketch of a badly disfigured Mexican looks like Eric Erstrada.

   Perhaps the best genre description of Raines is Victim Noir. Everything including the plot is centered around the victim. In “Stone Dead”, the plot begins as a story about a racist’s revenge against a judge, but as we learn more about the victim the crime changes. Often the backdrop of the crime challenges Raines’ perspective regarding social issues such as the homeless, addiction, and illegal immigration.

   Raines is a series no TV mystery fan should miss.

   All seven filmed episodes can be seen at