Raines: Pilot Review
Raines: Pilot Review
Raines, the new hour-long drama from NBC, is a neo-noir.  That's right.  No matter what the promos tell you (that Raines is a procedural cop drama where Jeff Goldblum talks to dead people), Raines is pure noir, and it's a breath of fresh air.  The show has its issues, but we'll get to those in a second.  First, let's take a look at the concept:

Jeff Goldblum plays a homicide detective that talks to the deceased murder victims from the cases he is solving.  It sounds high concept, but after watching the pilot, it's really not.  This isn't a Ghost Whisperer type-of-thing; Detective Raines is merely hallucinating these people, and he's not magically learning new information that will help him solve the case. 

After Raines first discussion with his imaginary victim, once I got the gist of how his conversations with these people would go, I thought “Okay, but what's the point?  If these hallucinations aren't really giving him new information, then who cares?”  Well, I'll tell you what, these two way conversations serve a very distinct and necessary service.

You remember when I said that Raines was noir all the way?  What the creators of the show have done is replace the standard noir inner-monologue voice-over, and replaced it with a visual and oral representation of that inner monologue.  Instead of the detective speaking rhetorically to himself via voice-over, Raines physically intimates a second-side to the conversation.  It's really a genius way of making Raines feel like noir of old, but adding a unique, quirky twist that will become the show's calling card. 

That being said, the tone is subdued, with a subtlety bizarre (but good bizarre) performance by Jeff Goldblum.  Raines isn't going to have the flash and style of CSI or the edginess of a Bochco crime drama; it's old-school with a twist.  This may end up being a problem.  Are people going to watch?

To me, this is, as I said, a breath of fresh air, because it isn't the style over substance formula that tends to saturate the airwaves these days.  Raines is just interested in telling its mystery, throwing a few red herrings at us, and letting us try and figure it out while Raines does. 

Another issue in the pilot was the mystery itself.  While the noir-twinged process of the case was fun on its own, the actual case did leave a little to be desired.  You can't really call it a twist, but the perpetrator of the crime came as a mild shock, but more in the vein of “Okay, I guess I buy it,” rather than, “Wow, that makes sense.  I should've thought of that.”  I hope that as the show progresses, they get into a good mystery groove. 

The pilot has a professional feel, and for good reason.  Written by Graham Yost (“Speed”, “Band of Brothers”) and directed by Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”, “The Green Mile”), the Raines pilot is visually arresting, while not being flashy, and boasts a delicately written script that carefully tip-toes through the requisite exposition that a pilot needs.  The dialogue is clever without being cutesy-clever, and is, of course, delivered excellently by Mr. Goldblum.

There is a twist at the end of the episode that I liked which I didn't see coming.  I'm anxious to see where that story goes.  I'm concerned that, with it's normal timeslot being on Fridays, Raines won't pick up the necessary viewership to stay on the air.  I hope people give it a chance as an intelligent alternative to the plethora of cloned procedurals out there, if just for the fact that Raines is different.  This opinion is only based on the pilot, but I advise you to give it a shot.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer