Lockdown, Lowdown… Ringside Report Looks Back at the TV Show Private Eyes
By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart
Perhaps it was because they finally got together.
Perhaps it was because the ratings were not as good now as they were back then.
Perhaps it was the bloody pandemic.
Perhaps it was all of the above…
Who knows, somebody must but the cancellation of Private Eyes was more than a big shame…
The premise was not altogether unique. Former hockey player, Mathew Shade, played by Jason Priestley, is a man looking for a purpose. PI Angie Everett, played by Cindy Simpson is not looking for a partner. Perfect. They get together in business and then over the next 5 seasons, they flirt, talk, pursue other people and eventually what every person known to them knows becomes obvious even to them and in the final episode they kiss and admit how they feel about each other.
And then they cancelled the series…
It was gentile and amusing, rather than a laugh out loud series that motored along quite the thing and it was enjoyable. There was the usual stuff about them solving cases for clients who turned up early in each episode with Shade and his popularity being a “thing” and Angie’s attractiveness not being a “barrier”. Thrown in the mix were regular cast members who added to the narrative. Don Shade, played by Barry Flatman, was Shade’s father who owned a diner and kept Shade in check often enough to be one of the major influences in his life. Jules Shade, Shade’s daughter, played by Jordyn Negri who is visually impaired – I shall come back to her – added something we had not really seen before – pardon the pun – and there were a variety of cops who were either antagonistic – Detective Derek Nolan played by Cle Bennett in series 1 and 2 – or helpful – Detective Maz Mazhari played by Ennis Esmer in series 1 to 3 and in 5. There is also Matt’s ex-wife and TV host, and mother of Jules, Becca D’Orsay played by Nicole De Boer and Jonny Gray as Jules’ boyfriend along with Zoe Chow, who was initially a client but, played by Samantha Wan becomes the anchoring assistant left in the office to try and make some sense of most of the investigations – not always easy.
As well as Shade’s back story in sport, Angie has a mother played by Mimi Kuzyk, Nora Everett who is a bit of a gambler and a former rival, Norm Glinksi played by William Shatner who appears in seasons 2 and 3 to try and disrupt things.
Based on The Code by G. B. Joyce, it was a Canadian series that had admirers prior to it hitting the TV screens but that does not seem to have saved it. It produced 60 episodes and ran for 5 seasons. The runs were more akin to British television limited runs than the full 20+ of the US style series and so therefore it has a limited number to catch up on. Cancelled in 2021, it began in 2016 and is therefore quite a modern series and this is where I go from being a huge fan to a critic.
Initially, given the fact that it had a blind character and the ethnic diversity of some of the cast, I kind of thought it was something well worthy of getting behind. Especially the visually impaired agenda. But the actress playing the part, though doing so well, was not in fact visually impaired. It fell into the make them pretty to show disability in a decent light trap and it may appear unfair but that was also part of the standard message in the show.
It was clear that putting two really attractive central protagonists together was likely to end with only one outcome. The miscommunication between them was funny and their bickering akin to a long-time married couple and it served the series well. It was standard fare, but pretty decent standard fare and it was good to watch. It was something you could rely upon. There were few moments of real jeopardy, and it had a gentile feel to how the narrative was developed, but it was often hampered behind the fact it showed “potential”. I wanted to see how they would work as a “couple” and again the nature of the comedy was never going to be cutting edge, but I did feel it had potential to rack up some decent future episodes. The use of a non-impaired actress had gone on too long to hope for a change in casting, but there were some genuine moments when the agenda was being pushed. It made it a favorite to watch but one with a degree of sadness that what I was not seeing was something coming out of Canada that could make a stand and do so, within the mainstream. But then again, the reason it got made was not to push an agenda but to entertain and you could not fault it for that.
British television is a curious affair. Begun through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) it is funded through the universal license fee. In essence, if you wanted to watch the television, you had to pay the license fee. The BBC got it all and is state run, albeit at arms-length. Then came along commercial television in the form of Independent Television (ITV) in 1955. Designed to bring a bit of competition to the BBC, it was paid for through advertising but still free to air… well they didn’t add another license fee to it. By the time that I was born, 1965, there was BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. And that was it. It was still years before Bruce Springsteen would moan that there were 55 channels and nothing on but here in the UK, we kept this going until, in 1982, we added a fourth channel and in 1997, a fifth. With sparkling imagination, they were called Channel Four and ehm Channel Five… In between came Sky and we understood what Springsteen meant. And so, my childhood and leading up to early adulthood we had three options… But the programs made were exceptionally good. And so, here is some critical nostalgia as the lockdown has brought a plethora of reruns, new formats and platforms and old classics trying to make their way back into our consciousness as broadcasters flood their schedules with classics… or are they classics at all? Let me take you through an armchair critics’ view of what we have to see, to find out… Welcome to the Lockdown Lowdown…
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