Monday, April 30, 2007

END OF "RAINES"

Here's a musical question for you: "Who'll stop the 'Raines'?"

Answer: NBC, that's who.

I thought 'Raines' was an interesting show with a quirky premise matched by excellent casting in its leading man. Jeff Goldblum played an LAPD detective who was left mentally unhinged a bit (and that's an understatement!) after the death of his partner, Charlie. After a prolonged medical leave due to the trauma of seeing Charlie shot through the forehead, Michael Raines was back on the force - but now he imagined seeing the murder victims he was investigating, and would actually talk to them.

Really, all he was doing was bouncing his ideas about each case off an imaginary sounding board, a Sherlock Holmes with many phantom Watsons. But it was enough to probably keep him from his job if anybody found out how bad his mental aberration was.

Unfortunately, I'm just one viewer and not even a blip on the Nielsen radar, and "interesting" and "quirky", and, let's face it, Goldblum aren't enough to ratchet up the ratings.

Not that NBC helped the show any. The original order for thirteen episodes was chopped down to seven, and then it was banished to Friday nights, which has become for the most part the television graveyard for the major networks. (At least Saturday night is used by the networks to recycle shows for those who missed them the first time around.) At least some of the cable outlets are taking advantage of the Friday night wasteland by airing their best shows on that night - 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Doctor Who' on Sci-Fi; 'Monk' and 'Psych' on USA Network.

'Raines' would have made for a great team-mate for those two shows.....

The description used to promote the show's concept didn't help much - Raines was a detective who talked to the dead. I think most people read that and figured - a male version of 'Ghost Whisperer' or 'Medium'. And that's already too many in that category. But Raines' situation was unique - another word that doesn't really bring in the viewers.

Maybe the premise was too odd to carry the show for very long, but I think the writers could have - and would have! - come up with some imaginative variations over time.

At the very least, the truncated run of the series saves us from a major Recastaway. It was reported that Luis Guzman would be stepping in to play Charlie, Raines' dead partner. [There's even a publicity photo with him included which you can see at epguides.com.]

From the pilot onwards, Charlie had been played by Malik Yoba. It's not as if the producers were going to run in the same direction for the character by casting someone similar like Mykelti Williamson. They were going to venture into uncharted territory with the casting of Guzman, who looks nothing like Yoba. Not even the same racial type!

If they were going to acknowledge the casting change within the show, I think the only way to go would be a major mental fart on the part of Raines; that for some reason he was now imagining his former partner as someone totally different.

If not, this would have been one of those series, like 'Alias Smith And Jones', where we followed the cases of Raines in the main Toobworld one season, and then in the next we crossed over to some alternate dimension where he once had a different partner on the force.

The IMDb.com - never the most reliable of sources, - says that Guzman should have been seen in the episode "Inner Child". However, Malik Yoba's name was still in the opening credits, and Charlie never appeared in that episode anyway. It's my thinking that perhaps they knew that the show was a goner weeks before that episode was scheduled to air, so the producers just cut out his scenes altogether. One of those cases where the actor's paid off (hopefully!) but his work will never be seen.....

There are so many series over in the UK where a run of seven episodes would be considered par for the course. The seven episodes of 'Raines' will make an excellent DVD collection hopefully. I know I'd pick it up. And until the other day, epguides.com was listing an eighth episode to be shown at some undetermined future date, but now it's taken off the menu. If it was filmed, and probably had Guzman as Charlie, it might make an interesting addition to that theoretical box set as a companion piece; to show what might have been.

One thing that has given me tele-tranquility since I began the Toobworld concept: at least I know that in the TV Universe, Michael Raines is still working murder cases, and still conversing with the victims to help solve their murders.

BCnU!
Toby OB

3 comments:

MediumRob said...

Although I'd have to check, the guy in the publicity stills looks a lot like the guy who played Goldblum's partner in the original pilot (the screener sent to critics last year), not the the pilot that aired on NBC. I think the recasting happened pre-series. At least now I know I'm not seeing things!

Plus never trust IMDB to get the cast list right. I've learned that the hard way a couple of times.

Brent McKee said...

Apparently NBC decided to recast the role of Charlie and reshot every scene that Luis Guzman was in.

There was also a rumour that Mikelti Williamson was going to do a cameo in the premiere as his Boomtown character Bobby "Fearless" Smith, but I never saw it. Since Boomtown and Raines were both created by Graham Yost it might have been interesting if Fearless had been the partner who had died on Raines.

Sadly I think Graham Yost will join Tim Minear as a creator of shows that are "too hip for the room" - interesting failures.

Toby said...

Thanks, guys. For some reason, I remembered reading the story differently. But since you both wrote in, I found this online:

Luis Guzmán originally had the role of Charlie Lincoln, but after shooting the pilot, he was replaced by Malik Yoba. NBC then asked that they reshot the scenes he appeared in.

So Guzman never would have been a factor in the main Toobworld. But if there's a dimension for those pilots left in Limbo, there he's Charlie still.