Friday, October 16, 2009

Must Watch Friday : : Eyes

Anne McAllister loved Eyes the first time they took it off the air. Now it's back and she's got a DVD recorder. So they won't be able to steal it away from her again!

Eyes is one of those television programs that you will have missed if you blinked back in 2005 or 2007 or whenever they showed it for five weeks (never consecutively). It was the victim of ABC television's 'pull the plug if it doesn't top the ratings' approach to prime time tv.

But if you saw the five (count 'em! Only five!) episodes they did air, you might be forgiven for wondering why they gave up on it so quickly.

The three or four of us who watched it certainly did.

I mean, after all, what is there not to like?

Eyes has a great concept, slick intriguing characters, energy, charm, and snappy dialogue -- not to mention a drop-dead gorgeous smart-ass hero Harlan Judd, played by Timothy Daly.

Harlan runs the high-tech ultra-classy upscale Los Angeles firm of Judd Risk Management.

JRM does private investigative work which occasionally (well, all right, often) seems to slip over from the legal to the not-quite-so-legal side of the line. Hardly anyone at Judd Risk Management is too worried about it, either, as long as whatever they're doing is 'the right thing to do.'

In fact they do it with such cunning, flair and enthusiasm that you can't help cheering them on, even though you're not entirely sure that one or another of them might not be knifing his or her co-workers in the back at the same time. After all, what's a little moral ambiguity between friends?

It's the characters and the dialogue that kept me coming back for more (when ABC allowed it).

Besides the extremely watchable Mr Daly, there is the lovely Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon who plays Nora Gage, one of Judd's primary investigators. She knows her way around disguises and may actually be wearing one even Harlan isn't aware of.

But if Nora is ambiguous, Judd's other lead investigator, Jeff McCann (Eric Mabius), gives every indication of being as morality-free as they come. But for all his determination to only be on his own side, it's pretty hard not to like him, too.

As a high tech firm, Judd Risk Management has its resident nerds and geeks. The beautiful AJ Langer manages to pull off the role of the dowdy, awkward, self-despairing Meg Bardo with aplomb. And Mark Famigliatti is equally charming as earnest and honest Tim Smits.

They are a wonderful counter-balance to the sly, sarcastic Judd, the amoral McCann, the manipulative Nora Gage and Natalie Zea's analyst Trish, who has wrecked her marriage having an affair with McCann.

Lest you think everyone is a little wacky, Judd's best friend, Chris Didion, played by Rick Worthy, provides the steadiness and reason that keep Eyes' ship from tipping over.

Of course Chris is an ex-FBI agent who has spent time in a psychiatric hospital after a breakdown following the death of his gay lover. But for all that, he really is the voice of reason. Trust me.

There's the love interest, too. Laura Leighton, whom you may recall from Desperate Housewives, plays Leslie, a straight-arrow lawyer, who finds Harlan charming, but doesn't have quite the same attitude toward rules that Harlan ("Rules? What rules?") does. Plus she does have a boyfriend. And Harlan is not quite over his ex-wife.

Are there obstacles to this relationship? Oh, yes.

But wait, there's more. There's Clay Burgess, the arms dealer.

He and Judd have a history. Clay says he "made" Judd. And his determination to take over Judd Risk Management and buy Harlan out -- and Harlan's equally fierce determination not to let him -- creates the arc that runs across all of Eye's episdoes.

It's the reason for the moral shell game that Harlan, Nora and Jeff McCann are playing for or against each other while weekly cases are being solved.

I've waited two years --- or is it four? -- to find out how this all turns out.

And now Direct TV is showing Eyes! All of Eyes!

Anyone who can get DTV's channel 101 can finally enjoy the interactions, the repartee, Mr Daly's charm and (please God) some closure.

The episodes began airing in mid-September in the US and will run each week through early December. If you missed them, check the listings to see if they are re-running them at other times during the week (Tues at 10 eastern, 9 central is the official time).

If you live in some other part of the world, you may already have had your closure because elsewhere Eyes has fared a bit better than in the US.

In New Zealand, for example, TV2 aired Eyes in the second half of 2005. These NZ episodes appeared online via BitTorrent soon after (Is BitTorrent legal? Eyes probably doesn't care!)

The show was also aired in Singaore in part. It was shown in France on the television station Canal Jimmy in 2006. A year later it aired on the NINE network in Australia, and at the beginning of 2008 appeared on TV in Poland.

Before DirectTV began airing the episodes some were available on In2TV, a joint-service offered by AOL and Warner Bros. that enables people in the US to download television shows over the internet for free. Not all episodes were available (including the pilot episode), but most unaired episodes were online before the DirectTV airing. So if you've missed it and you live in the US, you might want to check that out and see if it still exists.

So far they haven't made a DVD of Eyes, but I live in hope. After all if they can make a DVD of Wonderfalls, which got just about as much network enthusiasm , anything can happen.

Eyes is fun, fast, and flirty. And given the recent success of Burn Notice, I have to wonder if perhaps Eyes wasn't ahead of its time. Or if it was simply a victim of American network television. Had it been introduced on a cable network, like Burn Notice was, it could have had more time to find its audience and fewer occasions on which it was yanked for some 'special' program instead.

Whichever, it's a shame it never had a chance to take off. But I'm grateful that Direct TV has seen fit to bring it back and introduce it to -- I hope -- more viewers. Though it will never get the second season it deserved, at least we've finally got the first one.

If indeed anything can happen, do you suppose I dare hope we'll ever get to see the unaired episodes of Cutter to Houston?
Er, probably not.

Anne just got back from New York where she did research watching Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in A Steady Rain. Doing research for books is such very onerous work.

Keep an eye out for her latest Presents/Modern title: One-Night Mistress...Convenient Wife, coming in late October in the US and UK.

Stop by her blog or website to enter her "Hugh and Dan" contest which ends October 25th. You could win some books, DVDs and other great prizes.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Anne McAllister said...

    Ah, yes! Rick has a whole other sci-fi string to his bow. There were some very talented actors and actresses in Eyes. Pity it never got the time and respect it -- and they -- deserved.

  3. Hi Anne,

    I'm so jealous of your NY research! Ah, the sacrifices you make in the name of research!

    I've never heard of 'Eyes' so will look out for it in case it ever makes its way Down Under.


  4. Annie,

    Apparently it was already down under once, so good luck getting it again! But worth the watching if you get a chance. Or maybe it will finally come out on DVD.


  5. I haven't heard of this but it's bound to turn up on one of the millions of channels that have to filled these days, so I'll watch out for it.

    Viewers really are the victime of scheduling panic these days. Most of the great TV series would never have made it past episode five these days. It was easier, I guess when there were just two or three chanels and we were pretty much a captive audience. Sit there and watch.. You will get it... :)

  6. Anne, I haven't heard of this either, so thanks for that - but I'm so envious of your theatre trip. Lucky you.

  7. Liz, I hope it does turn up for you because it's fun to watch. It's not as computer geeky as "Sneakers" was, but there's that same irreverence.

    Sarah, I hope if it turns up in your neck of the woods that you like it. And yes, it was a wonderful theatre trip. Research is rarely so satisfying!