It Just Ghost to Show You

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This is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore watching television for KCRW and -- and -- wishing I had something to tell you.

Well, this is embarrassing. Usually when I sit down here at the microphone I can count on some ghost or other apparition to seep right through the studio door and prompt me on what to say.

We know from TV they're everywhere! Like on CBS' Ghost Whisperer, where curvy Jennifer Love Hewitt has a devoted husband who never seems to get a private moment with her. That's because some poor soul hung up in the physical realm is always barging in, even in the middle of the night, not going "Boo" but going "Boo-hoo, help me to the light." Which she does. And I guess her poor hubby goes and takes a cold shower.

Same with the NBC drama Medium, where sexy Patricia Arquette plays a wife and mother who doesn't need cable: She's got visions of dead people dancing in her head, which she uses to solve crimes. This is real good for society...again, not so good for the marriage.

Like on one episode, a dead former boyfriend starts hanging around the house, even haunting the bathroom while she's in there soaking in the tub!

(You know, I keep thinking her husband and the guy on Ghost Whisperer should join a support group.)

Now where am I going with this? I suppose what I'm getting at is that, despite popular belief, imaginary friends don't disappear with childhood. At least, if you believe in TV drama.

On Rescue Me, Denis Leary is haunted, and comforted, by frequent drop-ins from a dead fellow firefighter.

On Six Feet Under, the dead patriarch of the Fisher family kept intruding through the run of the series. And let's not forget Joan of Arcadia, where Jesus was always appearing to the show's title character in various human forms. Or the short-lived Book of Daniel, about an Episcopal priest who kept conjuring Jesus as a hippy-dippy sidekick.

In the same general spirit (if you will) NBC has a new show called Raines, about a police detective who is -- now you can take your pick here -- nuts, or, able to identify with murder victims so intensely that each one can direct him to the killer and help him solve the crime.

The series, which airs Friday, stars Jeff Goldblum as LAPD Detective Michael Raines, a guy who's not only cracking cases but also may be cracking up.

As he explains it, what he sees are hallucinations of murder victims. They're not ghosts, they're not dreams, just figments of his imagination based on what he knows of their plight.

And the more he investigates, the clearer the picture (or something). The problem is, all the while he's talking to people that only he (and the viewer) can see.

Raines is pretty tormented -- after all, he's being goaded into conversations with people who aren't there.

On the other hand, remember that old joke about the man who refuses to get help for his crazy brother who thinks he's a chicken, because they need the eggs. Well, Detective Raines makes darned good use of his eggs, and once he serves up the omelet at the end of the hour -- well, you can finish up this tortured metaphor for yourself.

Meanwhile, let's all salute TV drama's cosmic unity, this brand of interaction that defies mortal bounds. Even from beyond the veil, we're ALL connected.

But still: Didn't your mother tell you, never talk to strangers?

Watching television for KCRW, this is Associated Press TV writer Frazier Moore.