Tuesday , April 23 2024
Two new shows and one old make for a good Thursday night.

Hooking an Audience on Raines

You want an idea for a hook? Here’s an idea for a hook: no hook, just good writing and good characters. Can we just avoid nonsense for a little while and concentrate on doing things well rather than having a silly hook?

In case you’re wondering, I watched Raines last night. Jeff Goldblum, as the title character, was good, but I think he’s always good. He’s a fun actor who delivers lines in the oddest way. I like him. Here, in Raines, he plays a detective, and a homicide detective at that. The story starts off strong enough, with Raines explaining, in a voiceover, the difference between hard-boiled detective fiction murders and real world murders. It’s good, it’s smart, it’s solid writing, and it’s more or less all downhill from there. You see, Raines sees dead people. They come back and talk to him, at least in his imagination. He thinks out the murders and figures out who the victims were by bouncing ideas off them and changing around the way they act and respond in his mind. 

It’s oh so very clever and interesting. At least, it is right until you realize that they’re going to do it week, after week, after week. Then it turns into a silly plot device that’s going to get old quickly — a hook that may suck you in, but ends up causing a great deal of pain. In fact, the device has already gotten old by the end of the first episode. Hopefully they’ll be able to figure out an interesting way to keep it going; it was good enough that I’ll tune in again, but I see it getting old really, really fast.

As for other new stuff last night, there was Andy Barker, P.I., starring the hysterically funny Andy Richter. At least I think he is — funny that is, he’s definitely Andy Richter, unquestionably Andy Richter. And, he plays a guy named, shockingly, Andy Barker. Andy Barker is a CPA who works in an office that used to be rented by a PI, and he gets confused for the PI and hired. I guess that makes him a PICPA, but that’s so less clever than PI that I can absolutely understand why the producers (Conan O’Brien among them) didn’t go with Andy Barker, P.I.C.P.A. Although, there is a certain amount of humor in that.

The show wasn’t as strongly written as Raines, the acting not as good, the premise not quite as oh so clever, and I don’t like Richter as much as Goldblum (though I do like him). Yet, unlike Raines, I’m far more interested in how Andy Barker, P.I. progresses over the next few episodes than I am in Raines, so clearly, they’re doing something right. 

Lastly, Scrubs. And I don’t mean last in my heart, because Scrubs is, almost without fail, hysterical. I’m hearing that they’re going to be back next year, even if it’s not on NBC. Seems to me that it might be a mistake for NBC to ditch them, but if that’s what the powers that be want, who am I to blow against the wind?

Just one question about the two Rowdys — how did J.D. know which was which?

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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