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A police drama in which Jeff Goldblum plays the title character. Michael Raines is a homicide detective who had ambitions to become a mystery writer. He solves murders by hallucinating reconstructions of the victims, building on the evidence at hand.
This very promising show was cancelled in the middle of its first season, presumably as a result of the 2007 writers' strike.
It is available on Hulu.
Contains examples of the following tropes:
- Alice Allusion: One episode has a victim named Alice. The connection to Wonderland shapes some of Raines' hallucinations of her.
- All Psychology Is Freudian: Averted. Raines brings up Freud at his first therapy session, but Kohl says that she's a Jungian.
- Asshole Victim: A very real concern for the title character; as he hallucinates the victims, cases tend to be more strenuous for him if he doesn't like the person who died. Gets horrible when one of the victims is a guy who rapes little girls.
- Black Best Friend: Charlie, or Raines's hallucination of him. It's clear that Charlie was much more 'grounded' than Raines, so his 'sassiness' might just be Michael's own snark feeding through the hallucination.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer
- Coming Out Story: the victim of the week in The Fifth Step was presented as having one of these, but then it turns out to have been a lie to cover up her other activities which embarassed her judge husband more.
- Constantly Curious: Lampshaded in the episode "Inner Child". Raines asks Emily "Why are you so annoying?" after she keeps bombarding him with intrusive questions, to which she answers "Maybe it's easier if I'm annoying... You know, that I'm dead for no good reason. That I was murdered..."
- Crazy Homeless People: In "Reconstructing Alice" Raines spends a great deal of time thinking about whether Alice was crazy and lazy and greedy, or driven mad by a tragic past, or something else.
- Crossover: In the pilot, there featured an appearance by Det. Bobby "Fearless" Smith (Mikelty Williamson), from the lamentably cancelled Boomtown, also produced by Graham Yost.
- Dead Person Conversation: Different dead person every episode except for Charlie, who is only revealed to be dead at the end of the first episode. Of course, Raines knows that they're not really there, but he sees and hears them, and it's awfully hard not to fall into conversations.
- Defective Detective: Detective Michael Raines would be haunted by the Victim of the Week until he solved their murder... except in his case, the people only he can see and talk to aren't ghosts; they're hallucinations.
- Facial Composite Failure: in the episode "Meet Juan Doe" the reconstruction of a damaged photograph, by an untalented composite artist, is a dead ringer for Eric Estrada.
- First-Person Smartass: Raines, played fairly subtly.
- Friday Night Death Slot: Where it ended up after only two episodes.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: lampshaded in the Pilot where the hallucination of the victim keeps asking Raines why he keeps seeing her smoking when there is no sign of cigarettes in her apartment. Other victims occasionally manifest cigarettes when he learns something about them which makes them seem less pure and innocent than he originally thought them to be.
- Helpful Hallucination: The premise of the series. Raines has hallucinations of the victims of the crime he was investigating, who followed him around until he solved the case. The hallucinations would actually change slightly in appearance and manner as he learned more about the victim. He was completely aware of them not being real--in fact, the hallucinations would sometimes comment on it.
Raines: What do you want?
Sandy Boudreau: It's your imagination, Detective; I'm just a figment.
Raines: What do you want?
Sandy Boudreau: I want you to find out who killed me.
Raines: Then you'll go, back to whatever dark, twisted, malfunctioning part of my brain that you come from?
Sandy Boudreau: Yeah.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Messed with in the first episode, where the victim turns out to be a prostitute. Raines' hallucination of her even uses the phrase "whore with a heart of gold", and mocks him for his insistence on seeing her as sympathetic. She ultimately is sympathetic, though.
- Inherently Funny Words: In-universe example. Raines considers "Titicaca" this, which is probably the reason he remembers that one sentence of Spanish he speaks - something about the Lake Titicaca.
- The Mad Hatter: The title character is well aware that the dead people he speaks to are just figments of his imagination. He deals with it with a reasonable degree of equanimity, considering.
- The Shrink: Dr. Samantha Kohl. Anyone capable of making any progress with someone like Raines has to qualify as an awesome shrink.
- Start to Corpse: generally less than a minute, often matches up with Opening Monologue.
- There Are No Therapists: subverted. In "Meet Juan Doe" Raines is told that he has to have ten sessions with a therapist or will be suspended. He complains that "everytime a cop pulls his gun or trips on his shoelace he's got to go see a shrink. It's a waste of time..."
- Victim of the Week