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Show of the week: Private Eyes

Private Eyes is something of an antidote to the slew of high-concept, highly serialised drama series that have saturated the international market.

It’s a modern take on the story-of-the-week procedural with fronted by a well-known face in Jason Priestley (Call Me Fitz). There is a ‘will-they-won’t-they, opposites-attract’ relationship element, reminiscent of shows such as Moonlighting, as Priestley’s gumshoe, Shade, teams up with a female partner played by Cindy Sampson (Rookie Blue).

Shade is as a former pro-athlete-turned-private-investigator. He teams up with smart and feisty Angie Everett (Sampson) at the start of the first episode, setting up the dynamic for the ten-episode drama.

The show is produced by Entertainment One Television, which worked with Priestley on Call Me Fitz, and Sampson on Rogue and Rookie Blue.

The eOne connection can also be seen with the involvement of Lloyd Segan, the veteran producer and exec on Haven, the show which eOne produced and distributed and which ran to five seasons on cable net Syfy. That show was on Shaw’s Global in Canada, and Shaw is a production partner on Private Eyes.

Impressed by the G.B. Joyce novel The Code, the inspiration for Private Eyes, Segan took the project to eOne’s VP, creative affairs, Rachel Fulford.

“It was four years ago and at a time when everyone was into serialised drama, and this was a close-ended procedural about a hockey player turned detective,” Segan says. “I remember later Rachel said, ‘when you pitched it, I thought you had taken something’, but the she also fell in love with it. Shaw Media also saw the vision.”

In Canada the series will play on free TV net Global. Internationally, eOne is distributing with Priestley in Cannes to give the series a MIPTV push. In the current drama landscape, a modern procedural is likely to be in demand.

“The characters have depth and grow over time, but each episode is self-contained. Viewers can jump in and jump out of the show and still be satisfied,” Segan says.

He adds that Priestley was in the frame as Shade from the start. “He was on Fitz at the time but we saw this as a vehicle for him, he loved these type of shows growing up and was interested.”

Private Eyes is shot and set in Toronto. The city often doubles for the US in TV and film but in this case is actually the Canadian city. The closed-ended format means that should it prove popular, the series could run for multiple seasons. “We finished season one six weeks ago and are talking about ideas for season two,” Segan says.

The show: Private Eyes
The producer: Entertainment One Television, Shaw Media
The distributor: Entertainment One
The broadcaster: Global (Canada)
The concept: Procedural about a sports-star-turned-private-eye (Jason Priestley) and his feisty partner (Cindy Sampson)