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‘Raines’ about ‘mental crisis,’ stresses Toronto-raised creator

TORONTO (CP) _ In his new noir-comedy cop series "Raines," premiering Thursday, Jeff Goldblum plays a detective whose imagination is so keen he can visualize and talk to the victims of the murders he’s investigating.

But this is not another supernatural TV drama like "Medium" and "Ghost Whisperer," says Toronto-raised executive producer/creator Graham Yost.

"Whenever we’re speaking to the press or the public in any way, we try and make clear that it’s hallucinations, it’s not ghosts, it’s all an internal process, it’s a man in a mental crisis," Yost said during a recent conference call in which reporters asked several questions about whether the main character is losing his mind or has a special paranormal ability.

"It was never to be supernatural. I thought that the hallucinatory aspect of it, the delusion, was more interesting because it ultimately becomes a conversation between someone and himself and there are questions that we want to get to: Who is he really talking to? What does that represent in himself? Why does he do this?"

The NBC show (which airs on CH Television in Canada) stars Goldblum as Los Angeles Det. Michael Raines, who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after watching his partner Charlie die in front of him.

Unable to get over the incident, Raines starts imagining Charlie as a living person he can talk to. Such hallucinations quickly take over his life and job, where the divorced cop can see the homicide victims in his case files.

"That is a symptom of PTSD, having hallucinations," said Yost, who wrote the 1994 box office hit "Speed," created the 2002 TV series "Boomtown" and won an Emmy for the 1998 miniseries "From Earth to the Moon." He’s also, incidentally, the son of Elwy Yost, former host of TVOntario’s "Saturday Night at the Movies."

"And we see in other episodes that he doesn’t sleep very well and he’s drinking more than he should and that kind of thing so I think we’re dealing with a realm of human experience that doesn’t get all that much attention on television and especially not for a main character."

As traumatizing as it is for Raines, such figments of his imagination actually help him solve the crimes and add something special to his life, said Goldblum, whose co-stars on "Raines" include Canadian-born Matt Craven, Dov Davidoff and Madeleine Stowe.

"I think there’s another aspect to it where he’s losing his mind but maybe it’s not such a bad thing," said the Oscar-nominated actor, known for his turns in the films "The Fly," "Independence Day" and "The Lost World: Jurassic Park."

"He’s sort of discovering new parts and aspects of his identity, which are a little more spacious and adventurous perhaps."

Yost said the concept for the show stemmed from his experiences in writing scripts _ a process that often has him talking out the dialogue to himself and imagining that he’s in a conversation.

Goldblum signed on after meeting with Frank Darabont, who directed the pilot, and Yost at the famed Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood, Calif.

"A year ago now," recalled Yost of the timing of the powwow on "a noir-looking couch" in a "noir-looking lobby."

"Holy cats, is it? Time flies," replied Goldblum, adding the script was real odyssey that intrigued him.

"I was thrilled about it. You know, I love noiry kind of things and they said, ‘You know, in tone, we’re thinking about something like ‘The Long Goodbye,"’ which I loved and I’ve loved a lot of noir things," he said.

"Raines" moves to a regular Friday night time slot in two weeks.