Private Eyes s2 ep 3

Hello and thanks, first of all, to Gare Joyce, author of the Brad Shade Mysteries – without which there would be no Private Eyes – who made our LIVES a few days ago by telling us he likes our reviews on Twitter. To say this caused a degree of excitement and hyper-ventilation at Unpopcult HQ is something of an understatement but, before we squeal ourselves into orbit, let’s head back down to earth for this week’s review.

After all my chat last week about Zoe being the New Jules, this week the Old Jules reappears, as if determined to prove me wrong, and the action shifts to her school, of all places. She has been around a lot less than she was in season one, though – as Jed said, probably due to school or college – so perhaps she and Zo are job-sharing. Anyway, while New Jules spends the week at the office, with a Chucklevision style sub-plot rendered charming by Ennis Esmer’s Maz, Shade and Angie are called in to Posh High Academy (possibly not its correct name) to investigate and hopefully quash the allegation that Old Jules’s favourite teacher has, er, a particular favourite student, before it turns into a giant nightmare scandal and ruins the woman’s life.

Shade, running point and deciding he’s too famous to pretend to be anyone else, delights both himself and everyone but his partner by sending her in as a lycra-clad substitute teacher to field awkward questions about sex ed from some very excited teenagers – oh GOD – while he pretends he’s turned his hand to a new career in motivational speaking. Old Jules, getting more than a tad excited herself, seizes the opportunity to ask Miss Everett some awkward questions too. And, despite a curiously defeatist attitude from the principal who called on our heroes in the first place, everyone has a whale of a time with one-liners and secret societies, before solving the mystery in the usual amusing, good-natured fashion. Although this time the story ends with a little too much good nature for me to be honest; I know it’s Private Eyes so nobody was going to set up stocks and rotten fruit in the school playing fields, but dudes. I’d have expelled those kids’ asses without even blinking.

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Private Eyes s2 ep 2

It’s not quite up there with “pretending to be a couple”, but the “things that go bump in the night” episode is another time-honoured procedural trope that at least half of unpopcult is very fond of, and the rules are pretty clear. Number one: The Mulder/Scully principle – one partner’s super-sceptical, one’s more open-minded to the possibility of supernatural goings-on. Two: by episode’s end, there will be a rational explanation for most of the supposedly unexplained shenanigans. Three: but not for all of them, because Four: a little lingering eerieness is no bad thing. And five: yeah, no, I think that about covers it, unless – bonus ball – the OTP have to hold/hug/grab onto each other at some point because, y’know, scary times.

So, faced with the prospect of all these delights in addition to the usual joy that is Private Eyes, my levels of excitement on sitting down to watch this week’s were almost as high as Mount Logan. It’s to the show’s credit, then, that, despite it breaking just about every rule on the list and turning the episode into something entirely different than I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

From the start, nobody – and certainly not Shade, my pick for the likely Mulder – even entertains the prospect of anything supernatural. No, the rational explanation is revealed very quickly and the rest of the episode drops any hint of eerieness (and any hope of hold/grab/hugging) in favour of a fight against the far more prosaic realities of corruption, big business and Angie’s unique filing system. Which, because this is Private Eyes, is not just fine, but surprisingly fun and warm-hearted. It also seems to be a gentle way to reset the template for the rest of the season. Angie’s Dead Parent Conspiracy Arc takes a sharp swerve away from the expected route and ends up being nothing of the sort, albeit still giving us some very SQUEE-able moments along the way. New character Zoe, doing a decent job treading the fine line between quirky and annoying, might say she’s needed as “a buffer” between Shade and Angie – she isn’t, they’re lovely and they clearly adore each other, come on – but she’s really there to fill the space left by the absent Jules. And Ennis Esmer’s Maz looks like he’s going to be taking up the screen time Nolan would have had last year, which is great because Nolan is always angry, Maz is great fun, and HELLO, it’s Ennis Esmer, COME ON.

With the innate niceness at its heart, the relatively low-stakes (I mean, yes it’s corruption and threats and whatnot, but most procedurals we watch involve mass murdering serial killers and such) mystery solved and the villains vanquished in “if it wasn’t for those pesky kids…” Scooby Doo fashion, the whole thing is very, very Canadian, which I mean as a compliment of the highest order. I suspect that the world would be in significantly better shape if folk tried to be a bit more Private Eyes and a bit less True Detective, but there we go.

Private Eyes s2 ep 1

There are few things more confusing than the serious announcement that “This programme is sponsored by American Assassin, rated 18,” just before the start of what is usually one of the most amiable, peaceable and far-from-assassins-and-18-ratings shows on tv. Happily though, this alarmingly incongruous combination of sponsor and tv real estate doesn’t in fact signal a very sudden, very sharp turn into dark territory for our beloved Private Eyes – and just as well, since unpopcult can only take so much tumult in the world at the one time. No, our favourite show is as easy-going as it ever was, and season 2 gets off to a flying (sorry) start with Shade hurtling, not entirely voluntarily, through a glass window – homage to John Reese? You decide – just as Angie comes home suspiciously early from her holiday with Detective Speedbump, and everyone slots back easily into exactly the affable, loveable, shippable show we want. Phew.

The mystery of the week is significantly better than it needs to be, with an interesting twist, some swoonworthy Shade heroics and an unexpectedly moving resolution. I’m not a fan of Dead Parent Conspiracy Arcs as a general rule, but the Angie’s Dad story begins promisingly and pensively enough. Becca’s only in it long enough to be booed. (BOOOO!) And on the shipping front, Angie’s real reason for abruptly terminating her Nolan-time is beginning to dawn on Nolan if not on Angie herself (it’s because of Shade, you guys, SHADE); she and Shade pretend to be married for no real reason other than WE LOVE IT; Shade asks her out for dinner twice even if she chooses not to notice (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, GIRL?); and he also pays 500 bucks (plus 500 for cleaning!) to retrieve that sofa just to make her happy, and me SQUEE. Sigh. I’m so happy! “Private Eyes, we’re watching you…” And loving it.

Public Service Announcement 33 of 2017: Private Eyes

I was going to start this post with a list of terrible, terrifying things happening in the world right now, but I don’t want to be responsible for the entire unpopcult readership taking to their beds in abject despair, so let me just get to my point instead: we could all use some light in the darkness and, friends, a veritable sunburst is at hand. Season two of the warm, cheery, wonderful Private Eyes – a White Collar-esque tale (sans electronic tag) of delightfully mismatched crimefighting buddies who bicker loudly but love each other secretly – arrives on UK screens tomorrow (Monday) at 8pm on Universal, and not a moment too soon. Unpopcult fell deeply, some might say hysterically, in love with Shangie and co last season, and who can blame us? With a charming cast including Jason Priestley, Cindy Sampson, and unpopcult royalty Ennis “Rich Dotcom” Esmer; a bushel of resolutely inconsequential, light-hearted mysteries; and a ship we’re so on board we’ve got our own cabins, Private Eyes got us through some tough times last year and we’re counting on it to do the same once again. Maybe that’s a lot of pressure to put on a will-they/won’t-they comedy procedural, but we can’t help it. We love this show SO MUCH. Reviews every week, as fast we can write’em, then, and, just to start the ball rolling: SQUEEEEEE.

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.