Harlan Judd (Eyes)

Created by John McNamara

Eyes was a “promising” (Hah! Where have we heard that before?) new private detective drama, heavy on the wry, originally scheduled for the 2004-05 TV season. For whatever reasons, it finally made its debut in March 2005.

It starred Tim Daly as slick-as-spit, wisecracking HARLAN JUDD, the president of Judd Risk Management, a very high-tech, high-priced and (very) discreet Los Angeles detective agency, that had no problems with bending the law for their high-powered clients, be they individuals, corporations or even governments. They also had no problem with hiring people who looked way too good for their own damn good.

Their speciality was corporate crime, and aiding Judd in his quest to resolve crimes that could prove embarrassing to their high-flying victims was his partner and best friend, Chris Didion (played by Rick Worthy), who served as Judd’s (occasional) conscience. He’s black, and gay, and tougher than he looks, despite the fact he’s still recovering from a nervous breakdown. Suffice it to say he owes Judd big-time.

But it’s not a two-man show–Judd and Rick have a slew of employees on hand. There’s Judd’s strait-laced, over-educated secretary Meg Bardo; slick shyster Leslie Town who dishes out the legal advice, and investigators Nora Gage, who excels at undercover work, and corner-cutting Jeff McCann. Who’s having an affair with the firm’s tech whiz Trish Agermeyer. Whose husband is also an investigator. And so it goes…

The entire staff were a rainbow coalition of attractiveness, all occasionally operating on the fringes of the law, to obtain the necessary outcome. Adding to all the promised fun was the fact that most of the staff have their own personal and professional agendas and motivations. Including, it seems, a mole  who’s actually working for Clay Burgess (Gregg Henry), who’s planning a hostile take over of Judd Risk Management.

The whole thing was from John McNamara, the man who brought us another of my personal favourites,  Vengeance Unlimited.

When it first aired, before a single episode had been aired, I had ventured that “Eyes seems like simply the most promising P.I. show in years, judging not just from all the press it gathered, but from the people involved.” Mind you, I also couldn’t help noting that “this is the same network that brought us the late, unlamented (and embarrassingly bad) Snoops, another show about a high-tech LA detective agency filled with similarly good-looking operatives.”

The good news was that Eyes did more than just look good–for the most part it delivered on its promise, and was developing into a pretty entertaining show: intelligent, engaging and well-produced. Sure, at times it looked more like a fashion shoot for a slick magazine, but I was actually beginning to look forward to watching it each week. Under the gloss, there was both grit and wit in the scripts–all the prettiness in the world couldn’t hide some true ugliness.

ABC, naturally, pulled the plug before it could build up an audience, and the show was trashcanned. Twelve episodes were made but only five aired in its first run. The remaining episodes didn’t air until 2007.

Assholes.

FROM THE OFFICIAL ABC PRESS RELEASE

  • “Judd Risk Management is a 21st century P.I. firm whose job is to make their clients’ problems go away, quickly and quietly. With each case able to destroy a company, topple a personal fortune, or change the face of governments, this isn’t just a business; it’s a deadly game with real victims. Founder Harlan Judd has recruited a team whose personal dramas are as colorful as some of their targets. But he is an honest man in a world that demands unorthodox methods and a willingness to bend the law. From the producer of “Fastlane” comes a drama full of bluffs, blackmails, and intrigue.”

THE FINAL WORD

  • “JEERS to ABC for shutting Eyes during May sweeps. The network pre-empted the promising corporate-spy drama for four weeks in a row, replacing it with dreck like Primetime Live’s American Idol “exposé” and a special Supernanny. ABC didn’t give Tim Daly’s show a chance to attract many eyes.”
    — TV Guide

TELEVISION

  • EYES
    (2005, ABC)
    Created by John McNamara
    Writers: John McNamara
    Directors: Jon Amiel
    Executive Producer: John McNamara
    Starring Tim Daly as HARLAN JUDD
    With Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon as Nora Gage
    A.J. Langer as Meg Bardo
    Laura Leighton as Leslie Town
    Eric Mabius as Jeff McCann
    Rick Worthy as Chris Didion
    Natalie Zea as Trish Agermeyer
    Reg Rogers as Danny Agermeyer
    Laz Alonso as James Gage
    and Gregg Henry as Clay Burgess
    Guest stars: Brian McNamara, Mark Famiglietti, Wayne Pér, Mitch Pileggi, Alexis Cruz

    • “Pilot” (March 30, 2005)
    • “Whereabouts” (April 6, 2005)
    • “Wings” (April 13, 2005)
    • “Trial” (April 20, 2005)
    • “Shots” (April 27, 2005)
    • “Whistleblower” (January 18, 2007)
    • “Burglary” (January 25, 2007)
    • “Karma” (February 1, 2007)
    • “Innocence” (February 8, 2007)
    • “Poison” (February 15, 2007)
    • “Art” (March 1, 2007)
    • “Investigator” (March 8, 2007)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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