Stay Tuned: Formulaic fun on ‘Private Eyes’
Sometimes, a generic show about an unlikely pair of detectives is exactly what you need after a long day. “Private Eyes” is that show, a formulaic procedural that will not surprise or intrigue you but will make you chuckle with a lighthearted, breezy take on the genre. If you were a fan of “Castle,” this series is for you.
Matt Shade (Jason Priestly) is a former pro-hockey player turned hockey scout who meets private investigator Angie Everett (Cindy Sampson) when one of his star recruits has a heart attack on the ice during a professional league tryout. They team up when toxicology reports show that the player used performance enhancing drugs, a choice that Matt insists his player would never make.
The idea that Matt and Angie are unlikely partners is more interesting than the cases they try to solve. The plots have a few twists to maintain interest, but they aren’t mysteries that will puzzle you. In fact, you could return a few emails while watching the cases unfold and not miss much, the story patterns are that familiar. But it’s not an unpleasant familiarity because Priestly and Sampson are very watchable as a team.
Sampson is solid as Angie, a P.I. who loves her job and takes it seriously. The scenes where Angie goes undercover give Sampson a chance to show a little bit of range and have some fun. How Angie comes to accept Matt as a partner, a guy who has zero investigative experience, could be a major story flaw but it is written in a believable enough way.
Making Matt a dad to a funny and precocious daughter, who also happens to be legally blind, is a nice touch and adds a diverse representation to the show, while having them both live with Matt’s father Don (Barry Flatman) establishes him as a good family guy. Angie is also depicted as having strong family bonds. She took over Everett Investigations when her father died and her desire to keep his legacy alive makes her endearing.
After Matt and Angie solve the first case, the league offers Matt a work opportunity that would mean he could afford his daughter’s new private school fees. But it comes with a catch that causes him to think about who he is and who he wants to be. That’s about as philosophical as the show gets, which again is okay because it’s not striving for “True Detective” levels of deep thinking. It’s more about likeable leads who play off each other and hit a few punchlines, as when Angie notices Matt’s old model Porsche and quips that she can see when his career ended.
The series, set in Toronto, is originally a Canadian production and has already aired in that country as well as in the UK, Spain, Italy and Belgium, which suggests its middle of the road approach appeals across cultures. “Private Eyes” is procedural comfort food and that’s not always a bad thing.
“Private Eyes” premieres Feb. 11 at 9 p.m. EDT on Ion Television.
— Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’” She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.