A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this detective show focuses on a single murder per episode. Scenes involving the dead body often include blood, and there are flashbacks to the crime itself. Some scenes include threats with guns or physical violence. There's the occasional punch or kick, as well as references to prostitution, sexual and physical abuse, and other mature content. The murder victims (who come back to visit the main character as ghosts) are often women.
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What's the story?
RAINES stars Jeff Goldblum as the titular Los Angeles homicide detective with some unique investigation methods that include discussing the case with the apparition of the murder victim. Though he sometimes believes he's on the verge of losing his sanity, the process of working through his theories with the victim's ghost proves enormously helpful in solving the crime. In one episode, for example, after a young woman is murdered, the clues initially point to a boyfriend or abusive father. But as Raines puts the case together, his image of the woman changes -- literally. When he finds out she was involved in a shady enterprise, her ghost appears with a cigarette and cocktail in hand; her clothes shift from innocent cotton dresses to risqué costumes and back again as clues to her personality and lifestyle emerge. The ghost never offers information that Raines doesn't already have -- instead, she serves as devil's advocate, pushing the detective to test his assumptions and interrogate his evidence.
Is it any good?
Though the series' premise has the potential for Ghost Whisperer-type cheesiness, it's classed up by Goldblum's quirky persona and tight writing. Fans of crime procedurals will find familiar elements dressed up in fun new duds. Smaller roles are punched up by clever casting, like Raines' assistant, Carolyn, who's played by MADtv's Nicole Sullivan.
As with most crime-oriented shows, shots of dead bodies and details of criminal exploits are part of every episode. But in Raines, the emphasis in on the investigation rather than the crime, so tense stakeouts and looming peril are mostly absent. Teens familiar with Law & Order will see nothing more shocking than what they'd find there.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ghosts. Do you think people can communicate with the dead? Who would you talk to if you could -- someone in your family or a historical figure? What would you say? What's the appeal of ghost stories, both traditional ones and modern twists like this, Medium, and The Sixth Sense? How is this show similar to or different from other crime dramas?
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