Private Eyes s1 ep 10

imageIt’s Private Eyes season finale time – too soon! – and the writers are celebrating by sending Angie to her cousin’s wedding with Shade as her date. SQUEE! Ok, everyone’s very clear he’s her back-up date because “Nolan had to work” but whether it’s back-up, front-load, or side-to-side, the key word here, as I’m sure long-term readers of these pages will be aware, is date. And SQUEE!

Because our heroes need some sort of case to hang their hanging-out on, though, a very pricy heirloom tiara (the groom apparently coming from old money) is stolen, which means Shade gets to fake-propose – it’s still a proposal. On bended knee. SQUEE! – to Angie and they go undercover as a couple looking to organise their own nuptials, complete with wedding collage and very enthusiastic kiss to convince the photographer. Sorry, did I say “kiss”? I meant KISS. And SQUEE!

It’s all delightful, of course. Or it would be if Angie’s mum wasn’t mooching around, all sad that the daughter she neglected and stole from isn’t nominating her for Mother of the Year. BLERGH. And if Becca wasn’t being cruel and selfish and trying to destroy Jules and Shade’s newly-close relationship to shore up her own self-esteem. BOOOO! And if Nolan had just stayed at work instead of cropping up to take Angie to St Lucia when she should be exploring further partner-kissing opportunities in Toronto instead. HURRUMPH.

Still, it’s good fun nonetheless, and even the cheerful, charming Private Eyes needs some conflict, doesn’t it? This way, season 2 has plenty to work with. And probably an “Angie’s dad’s death” conspiracy arc as well, just like Jed predicted last week. To be honest, though, season 1 has been so lovely and warm, and the main characters so utterly adorable together, that I don’t give two hoots what season 2’s about, as long as we get to see it. And them. Although more kissing and “pretending” (but not really) to be into each other would definitely be a bonus. SQUEE!

Private Eyes ep 9

Well, Becca can just naff off, can’t she?

Not content with, er, distracting Shade from other matters – and by “other matters” I mean Angie, distracting him from Angie – for one night, she summons him from work to give her some sort of pep talk at her audition (FFS). Her would-be boss/ Producer immediately succumbs to the Shade charm – she’s only human – and somehow, this turns a job for Becca into a job for Becca and Matt together (Nooooo!) because Angie and Matt have been getting on too well and need to fit in a fight before next week’s season finale.

So fight they do, solving some nonsense mystery – magicians? unlicensed drugs? antique monkeys? Who even cares? This is ALL ABOUT THE SHIP – along the way, and distressing me with the mere thought that their discord might last more than a single episode. I cannot deal with Shade and Angie breaking up forever!

Thank goodness then that I don’t have to. Because Shade is lovely, he offers a bottle-shaped olive branch; because Nolan, unlike Becca, is clear enough about his speedbump status to get right out of the way (and take Mazhari with him) so Angie can meet her partner half-way without any witnesses; and because Private Eyes is the BEST, they make up, it’s adorable and I’m going to miss this show a ridiculous amount when season 1 finishes up next week. I LOVE IT.

Private Eyes s1 ep 8

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a leading man in possession of good looks and charm, must have unfinished business with his ex, so, as soon as we met Matt Shade and his daughter, we knew there would be an ex-wife in the picture, and at some point she’d come along and make things complicated. Or, actually, maybe make things simple: Matt and his ex-wife would re-kindle their relationship for a bit, Angie’d get jealous and double down on the Nolan situation, and I’d get to do some ardent, highly enjoyable shipping till the pair of them stopped messing about with placeholders and got to grips with each other instead. HURRAH!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This week we’re just at the re-kindle and double-down stages as Becca Shade, meteorologist, weather girl and woman on a mission, hurtles back into town a month early to move back in with Matt (Jules, who gets away far too easily with what is a manipulative and pretty cruel little move, having organised it without ever telling the dad whose life she’s about to up-end about it) and realise what she’s missing.

Angie is visibly, if not vocally, rattled by the prospect of another woman eating into her Shade time, but pretends not to care by asking him all about how he landed Becca in the first place, and then looking like she wants him in her stocking for Christmas. Time enough for that later (PLEASE GOD) but there’s a case to be solved first – an oddly unlikeable client asks our heroes to find out who’s investigating his oddly unlikeable wife, a woman who turns out, somewhat ironically, to be successfully juggling two successful romantic relationships when Shade and Angie can’t quite manage the one.

The whodunnit is as inconsequential as ever, and the way the team and the show eventually give Karen a pass for being a liar, a cheater and a criminal is a little bit jarring, but this is Private Eyes and it’s so utterly irresistible that none of that matters a jot. I watched this adorable episode on Tuesday night when I was terrified the worst was going to happen, and the show’s sweet, soothing combination of warmth, geniality and Jason Priestley’s charm still managed to bring me right back down off the ceiling; within minutes, I was smiling away. Of course, the worst happened anyway because this is a tv show not a miracle, but when the entire world feels like it’s determined to plunge into darkness, every little bit of brightness is even more welcome and Private Eyes is exactly that.

Private Eyes s1 ep 6

Time to check in on Private Eyes, now just over halfway through its first season. And this episode, ‘Partners in Crime’ is a good one to pick, because it’s perhaps the strongest one so far. Two cases of identity theft are connected by Angie and Shade to a speed dating organisation. So the two of them – of course – go undercover at a speed dating evening, hoping to find out which of the lonely hearts has been using his or her two minutes with strangers to get enough personal information to guess at passwords and the like.

There’s just a hint of edge in the air as well, with Angie – who got laid a couple of weeks ago, although personally I thought she could do a little better (i.e. Shade) – teasing Shade that he’s in a romantic slump. He’s also having to watch while his father (Barry Flatman) and daughter (the excellent Jordyn Negri) develop love lives of their own. But Shade responds by bringing his A-game when he and Angie, still undercover, inevitably find themselves sitting across a table from each other, giving us perhaps the most squee-worthy moment on the show so far, when Shade looks soulfully into Angie’s eyes and unspools his best lines, and in response Angie visibly has to restrain herself from doing that thing where you pull your collar to one side to let a little heat out.

This week, in fairness, the perp wasn’t who I thought it was – I can’t quite believe that I’m avoiding spoilers in a Private Eyes review, but anyway: I was pretty sure it was REDACTED, and somewhat surprised that it was, in fact, REDACTED. But the great thing about Private Eyes is that it doesn’t matter all that much. The plot rattles along, the charm comes off the screen in waves; it’s an hour of TV that doesn’t demand too much of the viewer, and makes no promises other than that you’ll be entertained. I love this show.

Private Eyes s1 ep 1; s1 ep 2


Toronto. Ever-so-slightly snarky – but nonetheless, y’know, attractive – PI Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) is looking into the attempted murder of a young ice hockey prospect whose agent is one-time star player Matt Shade (Jason Priestley). As one of the characters points out, “that’s a PI name if I ever heard one”. Shade’s divorced, with a delightful teenage daughter who has a disability; Angie’s marital/relationship status is as yet undetermined, but in her favour she has a possible Secret Pain. He wants to help with the investigation; she tolerates him; they squabble; they solve the crime. The baddie is who I thought it was on first sight.

By episode 2, set in the exciting – but deadly! – world of the bad-boy restaurateur, we’re already getting the scene in which Angie scrubs up and sticks a dress on, and Shade reacts in a way which requires her to remind him where her eyes are. They will, at some point in the future, totally make out, of that we can be sure. (I’m setting the over-under for this at 10 episodes.) Meantime, she hires him as an assistant for her PI firm, because – what do you know? – he’s actually quite good at investigating, in an enthusiastic amateur sort of way, and underneath it all he’s probably a decent guy. The baddie is who I thought it was on first sight.

I can’t begin to tell you just how much Private Eyes won’t change your life. If you’re looking for your next great TV show this ain’t it; compared to this, Royal Pains is an unflinching and harrowing look into the abyss. But it has plenty going for it as well: half of Unpopcult likes her, half likes him, we both like them together. The dialogue is snappy. And the theme is a cover, by Canadian band Dear Rouge, of a truly great 80s song. In short I was utterly charmed, and I have every intention of watching the rest of the season. And, as it’s been renewed, the next season as well. So there. It’s on Universal in the UK, Monday nights at 8pm, also available on demand.

Public Service Announcement 25 of 2016: Hooten & The Lady, Private Eyes

Sky 1’s new action drama, Hooten & The Lady, seems to be an unashamed throwback to the Indiana Jones/Romancing The Stone globetrotting-escapades films of the 80s (which, of course, were themselves a throwback to an earlier era). Hooten’s a roguish American treasure-hunting adventurer, and Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker is a expert at the British Museum, looking for something more stimulating. Normally Unpopcult probably wouldn’t bother. But there are two reasons – and we’re not proud of them – why we’re going to take a look at Hooten & The Lady. For CJ it’s Hooten (Michael Landes, who was Jimmy Olsen in the first season of The New Adventures of Superman). For me it’s The Lady (Ophelia Lovibond, who lit up the third season of Elementary). The advance word, though, is that Hooten and the Lady will not be hooking up. I suspect that to be a mistake, to say the least, because Unpopcult can’t have been alone in hoping for, if you will, Raiders of the Lost Ship. But we’ll report back on the first episode at least (Friday 16 September, Sky 1, 9pm).

One assumes that the makers of Canadian dramedy Private Eyes, on the other hand, know what needs to be done when you have Jason Priestley playing Matt, a hockey player turned private investigator, and Cindy Sampson (Supernatural) playing Angie, his feisty business partner. Faites vos jeux, ladies and gentlemen. As far as I can tell it’s light-hearted escapist fluff – which I mean as a compliment – in the mould of Castle (Monday 19 September, Universal, 8pm).

Also starting: season 6 of American Horror Story, commendably no more than a day or two behind American transmission (Friday, FOX UK, 10pm); season 2 of Aquarius (Friday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm).