Preview: Raines

Jeff Goldblum in Raines

In the US: NBC, midseason.

In the UK: Acquired by ITV3, with a later pick-up by ITV1

When I first heard about Raines, I wasn’t impressed. A detective that can talk to dead people? Just how derivative can you get? Like we need another Medium or Ghost Whisperer.

Turns out that while Raines (Jeff Goldblum) can talk to dead people, it’s not because he’s psychic. It’s cos he’s just a little bit nuts and has a very vivid imagination.

Michael Raines wanted to be a writer of crime fiction since an early age. But he lost his appetite for it once he started finding out what real life cop work was like.

Perhaps it’s this fevered imagination of his that makes him see dead people – and talk to them. They’re like a real-life narrative device that allows him to explore both himself and the crime. When he discovers that a dead woman was a prostitute, his imagination suddenly gives her a cigarette and a drink, cheap make-up and a bigger chest. But she calls him on it, “You can’t see cigarettes. You can’t see any alcohol… But now I have them because that’s what prostitutes look like in your imagination.” Later, when he finds out she’s been sending money to her mother, she becomes a victim in his mind – and again, she asks him not to simplify what she was.

Through his conversations with the dead, Raines is able to think through crimes and realise things he’s only picked up on subconsciously. His conversations with his partner, in turn help him deal with his obvious worry that he’s going mad.

I won’t explain too much more since there are various plot points that I’ll give away if I do. The show pretty much rests on Goldblum, who gives exactly the same performance you’d expect. He’s captivating, with his usual off-balance act. However, it comes to something when Goldblum isn’t the most eccentric performer in a given role – Vincent D’Onofrio over on Law & Order: Criminal Intent is still a lot weirder and Goldblum seems restrained in comparison.

The script is clever, but not as clever as it thinks, with most of the twists being pretty obvious. However, Raines’ blurring of the boundaries between ethical and unethical behaviour make him more interesting as a character than the show’s central gimmick, which might wear off after a few episodes. There’s also the exact reason why he sees these victims still to be answered.

Not bad, not brilliant, certainly one for the Goldblum fans, and it could well grow.

Watch the trailer at the NBC site.


Jeff Goldblum (Det. Michael Raines)

Luis Guzman (Charlie Lincoln)

Nicole Sullivan (Carolyn Crumley)

Matt Craven (Capt. Daniel Lewis)

Dov Davidoff (Remi Boyer)

Linda Park (Sally Lance)


NBC Universal Television Studio

Executive Producer/Writer

Graham Yost Boomtown, Speed

Executive Producer/Director

Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.