Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Private Eye: Not for Sissies

Oh man, I love the tag line in the TV Guide ad! Sadly, Private Eye was not only not for sissies, apparently it wasn't for anyone else watching TV in 1987.

Private Eye was intended to be the marriage of two of the hottest detective shows on TV, Miami Vice and Crime Story. Set in the 50s, the pilot movie features the gorgeous Michael Woods as Jack Cleary, a former cop who uncovers much in the way of police corruption. He is teamed up with a very young Josh Brolin, who looks like a James Dean type, only more hoodlum-esque. The pilot movie ran on September 13th, 1987 on NBC and the show found itself airing at 10 pm against 20/20 and Beauty and the Beast. Created by Anthony Yerkovich, the man behind Miami Vice, Private Eye had an extremely short run, lasting for 12 episodes. A lot of the blame was placed on Woods, but lest we forget the Chicago Tribune named him Hunk of the Year and thought his macho man image was the pinnacle of the man's man in the late 80s. Whatever the reason, Private Eye just couldn't find any footing and perhaps they should have just invited a few of us sissies to watch.

For more on late 80s cop shows, check out this great article on Crime Story at Go Retro.

Fun factoid: Joe Jackson wrote the theme song to Private Eye. Watch the opening:


Pam@GoRetro said...

I don't remember this show...I do agree that Michael Woods was nice to look at, sort of a Jon Hamm type. Too bad he was named a hunk and then faded along with the program.

And thanks for linking to my post about Crime Story! Funny, I have the feeling that if the networks try one of these 60s crime concepts again that they may just work because of the popularity of Mad Men. They're definitely trying to capture the audience with Pan Am and The Playboy Club

Anonymous said...

Watched this show religiously in 87-88, I still watch the Joe Jackson intro multiple times over the year, it's too, too "jazz-hot" with the screaming trumpets and the high-to-low music range: I'm always in awe of Joe Jackson's talent in everything. I still have about 6 episodes on VHS tape that are slowly moldering away and barely watch-able through the noise...

Jonathan West said...

Hi... Private Eye was stylish and hard hitting. The "bad timing" of it's release had to do with NBC
wanting to put on one of it's own shows in that time slot. It was the beginning of when networks
were allowed to participate in ownership of the product on the air. Prior years required them to
buy series from studios and prod co's... who made most of their profits when the shows went
to syndication (if they were successful). The networks didn't receive syndication money...
until the mid/late 80's. Private Eye was getting 21 shares in the Neilson ratings..
Today, you're lucky to get 2-4 shares. NBC said, "if you don't get a 23 share soon,
we're taking you off the air". It didn't and they did, replacing it with "Sonny Spoon",
a crime show that NBC Productions owned. It too didn't do well on Fri night...
getting a 15 share and was soon cancelled.
I know all of this because I was the director of photography on Private Eye and was part o
conversations with the producers from week to week. I loved doing the show and wish it
would be re transferred and aired on one of the few tv networks showing "vintage" tv series.
Jonathan West ASC Dir of Photog.