Sunday, April 15, 2007

Watching Raines - or not

What is wrong with the viewing public? A repeat of Shark on on CBS beat a new episode of Raines on NBC, starring the wonderful and quirky Jeff Goldblum?! I've been following the ratings at Entertainment Now for all of two weeks, so I don't know what the numbers mean. But they make it easy to see who wins.

I'm not knocking Shark, which stars the equally charismatic and gifted actor James Woods, because I haven't been watching it. I tried it, it didn't appeal (even though it is supposed to House with lawyers). But really, people won't give up a repeat to try something new?

Raines has a wonderful premise, that of a homicide detective who hallucinates that he's talking to the victims. It has the versatile actor Matt Craven as Raines' boss, a super-good female uni cop (played by Linda Park of Startrek: Enterprise), a goofy/dopey white male uni (actor-comedian Dov Davidoff of Third Watch), a smart and slightly snarky young female desk jockey (Nicole Sullivan from MadTV), Raines' shrink (Madeleine Stowe), and occasionally, his dead partner (Malik Yoba).

Most of all Raines has Jeff Goldblum, with his sly smile, big brown eyes, his soft and sometimes stuttering delivery. Although Raines is eccentric and sarcastic, Goldblum also brings a sweetness to the role. Raines can wield a gun and has no problem using it, but he's the farthest thing from tough-guy cops like Micheal Chiklis' Vic Mackey from the Shield, which is also set in LA.

To be fair, Raines is not going for the realism of gritty shows like The Shield, or HBO's fantastic The Wire. The show takes it cue from Raines himself, a would-be writer who moved to LA because of Raymond Chandler mystery novels. Although set in the present, the whole show has a noir feel that harkens back to the 40's. With Jeff Goldblum as mediator, it is an entertaining mix.

So if you haven't already, I recommend giving Raines a try. What have you got to lose, except a rerun?

Cross-posted to Blogcritics.

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