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An all-female detective outfit, the "Eyes Enquiry Agency", is formed as a front for the Home Office's new security operation the Covert Activities Thames Section (or CATS for short). Initially led by ex-Oxford Union President Pru Standfast, she was followed by experienced ex-cop Maggie Forbes (who later led the section), computer genius Frederica "Fred" Smith and later Tessa Robinson. Their contact with the Ministry was Nigel Beaumont. The team dealt with a variety of crime from theft to blackmail, to espionage & terrorism. Written by
A weird series on so many levels, CATS Eyes changes its format frequently and never seems to know what it wants to do.
Jill Gascoine is wasted and is capable of so much better than this. While it's a fantastic idea to bring back Maggie Forbes from the superb police series The Gentle Touch, Jill Gascoine is forced to do the best she can with some very weak and ordinary material.
Series one sees impossibly posh Pru (Rosalyn Landor) and gobby Cockernee Fred (Leslie Ash) joined by Maggie in the Eyes Agency, an undercover detective agency. Some good stuff in series one, with a tense relationship between Maggie and Fred, and Pru taking charge. Standard detective stories, and it's quite watchable. There's a spooky episode where Fred gets her drink spiked and hallucinates while trapped in the office, and there's a really good episode about people smuggling. The Kent locations look bleak, miserable and cold; there is frequently snow on the ground; the car chases look especially dangerous, with all that black ice on the roads.
It goes a bit wrong with series two. Pru, Eyes Agency and their office are never mentioned again. I like to think Pru is still doing detectiving from that little office. In comes Tessa, a character written in invisible ink. Tracy Louise Ward has very little to do in the role, and it is notable that Fred and Tessa utterly fail the Bechdel Test on every level: whenever they are alone together, they talk about boyfriends. While the series has now been retooled as an action adventure show, with everyone carrying guns and there being KGB double agents all over the place, so Fred and Tessa are now just standard dollybirds. Maggie is in charge and her awkward relationship with Fred is forgotten. Each episode ends on a not-funny laugh.
Series two is surprisingly violent. Barely five minutes goes past without the rattle of machine gun fire. Doors are regularly boobytrapped to explode. It all feels very ordinary and same-old-same-old. People are held hostage in large country houses and get terrorised by people in balaclavas. There's a really nasty episode where Maggie is locked in a cellar and the baddies produce a bag of scapels etc and threaten to carry out surgery on her. I am amazed that the recording I watched came from the Family Channel, as some of the material included is not family-friendly. It feels vicious and unpleasant. It's a bit dull and ordinary, stuffed with KGB spies and double-agents.
The high point of series two is one about white South Africans attempting to assassinate a black African leader: an episode so completely ludicrous that its final conclusion with Maggie coming to the rescue is the most laughable thing I have seen for some time.
Series three tones down the violence and has a notably shorter run of just seven episodes, as if the producers felt enough was enough. Other than that, series three is as ordinary as series two: Russian spies; Fred and Tessa talking about blokes; people being held hostage in mansions.
I think the biggest failing of the show is that it pretends to be different by having three female leads, but having all-male producers, writers and directors means we just get a standard action adventure series that thinks it needs to water itself down to become a bit girly, but actually doesn't know what it wants to do.
Jill Gascoine is totally wasted and, on the whole, it's a load of rubbish. The Gentle Touch is much better.
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