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C.A.T.S. EYES

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Full Name: C.A.T.S. Eyes
Nationality: British
Organization: Home Office
Occupation Agency

Creator: Terence Feely
Time Span: 1985 - 1987

ABOUT THE SERIES

       C.A.T.S. Eyes is a British Intelligence agency.
       The first part of the name is an anagram from Covert Activities, Thames Section indicating that the members operate in a clandestine manner in a region headquartered near the famous English river.
       The second part refers to the "Eyes Private Enquiry Service", the name of the private investigation company the members use as a cover for their real work for the government.
       The C.A.T.S. team consists of several highly skilled women, each with talents meant to provide the group with a wide variety of abilities and skillsets. When we first meet them, the team is made up of Prud Standfast, Fredrica 'Fred' Smith, and Jenny Kenwright, with a fourth member, Maggie Forbes, due to arrive shortly. Jenny would be killed in the first adventure we have of the group, killed while scuba-diving as she looked into a suspicious Russina trawler.
       Standfast, as the group lead, explains to newcomer Forbes, "Since we joined the E.E.C., the Thames estuary and the Medway towns and ports have become the crossroads of European crime, espionage, and terrorism. [And not just Europeans. The bloody Russians as well]. You know, there's more afoot in the lay-bys and cafes around here than in the whole of London, Paris and Amsterdam put together."
When Forbes mentions that she had been told the group had nothing to do with the police, she is told, "We're what you might call the 'exotic' end of the market. We are known as Covert Activities, Thames Section." She adds, "We have complete autonomy, I insisted on that."
As for why the group was all women, she said it was a "Political decision. It was suggested to Downing Street that we weren't getting our share of the fun. They expected for us to fall flat on our backsides but we didn't, so we're here to stay."
       The C.A.T.S. team may enjoy autonomy as Standfast stated but they still answer to the Home Office who provides a good amount of the funding for the plethora of nifty toys and equipment they house in the back rooms of their office. Nigel Beaumont is the man who shows up to hand the assignments and to, it seems, frequently exhort the women to do more, a bit presumptuous considering how they seem to always be putting their lives in danger with the missions Beaumont cavalierly doles out.
       When not engaged in the covert government agency that is their real purpose, the women actively engage in cases brought to them via walk-in clients needing private investigation work. As a result, it is not uncommon to have the women working two different missions at the same time; one for the Home Office and one for whatever civilian might be able to pay their fee.
       After a time, Standfast leaves the group, reason ungiven, and Forbes assumes the leadership role. Newcomer Tess Robinson fills in the vacancy. At the same time, the number of private investigations that the "firm" took dropped to virtually none as the group became so busy with its governmental duties.
       One interesting note: While each of the members of the team has a backstory and brings to the group experience and abilities, Forbes is especially noteworthy in that for several years just prior to her joining Eyes, she was a Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police. As such she is used to running a team and brings with her a lot of useful insights but her focus has always been following the law and proper procedures, not the sort of thing she and her teammates must routinely do in her occupation. She is, however, a quick learner.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:30
First Appearance:1985
Last Appearance:1987
Network:ITV

REGULAR CAST
Jill GascoineMaggie Forbes [ 1-3 ]
Rosalyn LandorPru Standfast [ 1 ]
Leslie Ash"Fred" Smith [ 1-3 ]
Tracy Louise WardTess Robinson [ 2-3 ]
Don WarringtonNigel Beaumont [ 1-3 ]

       From 1980 to 1984 through 5 seasons on Britain's ITV network, actress Jill Gascoine played Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes on The Gentle Touch, created by Terence Feely. Forbes was a woman who had diligently worked her way up through the ranks. She is married with a teenage sone, at least until the first episode when her husband is murdered leaving her with being a single parent, hunting down the killer of her spouse, and leading a team of detectives. The show was a ratings success and made Gascoine quite famous. Then the show was ended, reasons unknown to me.
       That was not the end of Maggie Forbes, however.
       The network wanted something with a bit more action and pizazz and Feely came up with the idea of the Eyes detective agency. He decided to continue to make use of the talented Gascoine and chose to resurrect her Forbes persona. She was being transferred to the group and would be faced with situations totally different that she had with the Force.
       Making things a bit more interesting, Feely had the team already in existance, doing a fine job and somewhat unhappy about a newcomer to the group, albeit someone considerably older and more experienced. Add to that, one of the previous team members is killed off in the first episode, leaving a vacancy that needed filling but with understandable coolness to the new gal.

       This show would last three seasons but the third was a very abbreviated one, supposedly due to weather conditions. It never was near the hit of the previous Forbes series. Adding to the problems afterwards was the fact that the rights to the show were mired in confusion so no renaissance via the video or DVD market has yet to come about.

       As I mention elsewhere, there were obvious comparisons to America's wildly popular and wildly teased Charlies Angels. It was not, in actuality, very close to that sort of show but that did not stop the barbs for a) supposedly being a knock-off and b) for not pulling it off. Unfair but true.

Note: the synopsis for each episode was taken from the excellent page on the series on Wikipedia:


1 Goodbye Jenny Wren
Episode 1-1, first aired 04/12/1985
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: William Brayne

Maggie arrives to join the new unit on the day that Jenny, the third member, is killed while investigating a Russian trawler anchored in the estuary. Fred avenges Jenny's death in a cat-and-mouse game with the Russians.[90-minute pilot episode].

2 The Black Magic Man
Episode 1-2, first aired 04/19/1985
Director: Ray Jenkins
Writer: Ben Ringham Terry

A cat burglar breaks into a Special Branch 'safe house', where two illegal female immigrants are being held for questioning. He helps one of the women to escape and Maggie, on the trail of the thief, has to track them both down.

3 With Vinegar and Brown Paper
Episode 1-3, first aired 04/26/1985
Director: Ray Jenkins
Writer: Robert Fuest

A death on the motorway leads Maggie to a man on the run, in fear of his life, and to a plot involving forged bearer bonds.

4 Under Plain Cover
Episode 1-4, first aired 05/03/1985
Director: Jeremy Burnham
Writer: William Brayne

A man's body is found floating in the river. Pru, investigating the mysterious death, finds that an official "block" has been put on the case. Despite this, she exposes a secret deal to build a new CIA listening post in London, and obtains justice for some defrauded investors in exchange for remaining silent about the deal.

5 Something Nasty Down Below
Episode 1-5, first aired 05/10/1985
Director: Don Houghton
Writer: John Frankau

An elderly woman tells 'Eyes' she has just seen her husband, who was supposed to have perished when a submarine sank nearly forty years ago. Maggie's investigation reveals that the submarine was carrying gold and that the crew mutinied, killing the officers and disappearing with the loot. The murderers, now in their seventies, are willing to kill again to protect themselves.

6 Cross My Palm With Silver
Episode 1-6, first aired 05/17/1985
Director: Jeremy Burnham
Writer: Robert Fuest

A clairvoyant asks Pru to find the location of a "vision" - a place where she is convinced she is going to die. Pru discovers that several other dangerous individuals are also searching for it, and that there is a real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

7 Frightmare
Episode 1-7, first aired 05/24/1985
Director: Don Houghton
Writer: James Hill

Fred is in the office at night, guarding a valuable jewel for a rich client. Keeping her company is her latest 'date' - an attractive young man who works for the client. The jewel turns out to be a red herring, and before the night is over, Fred begins to doubt her sanity.

8 The Double Dutch Deal
Episode 1-8, first aired 05/31/1985
Director: Martin Worth
Writer: Ian Toynton

Fred, acting as 'best man' at a friend's registry office wedding, stumbles on a marriage racket run by an unscrupulous organisation for Asian girls wanting EC citizenship. She falls for a Dutch boy used by the organisation, and is devastated when the investigation ends in his murder.

9 My Father Knew Lloyd Mbotu
Episode 1-9, first aired 06/07/1985
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: William Brayne

A hit man is sent from a newly independent African country to kill Pru's father, who had incurred the enmity of the President whilst serving in the British army there. The retired General refuses protection and Pru is sent to guard him. Her father thus learns for the first time of her real job. Meanwhile, Maggie, acting for an insurance company, exposes a chair-ridden accident victim as a fraud.

10 Love Byte
Episode 1-10, first aired 06/14/1985
Director: Ben Steed
Writer: James Hill

A self-made entrepreneur asks 'EYES' to follow an ex-con with whom his young daughter has become involved. Fred unmasks a blackmail sideline run by the entrepreneur's second in command, based on client's personal information fed into the organisation's central computer.

11 Fingers
Episode 1-11, first aired 06/21/1985
Director: Anthony Skene
Writer: Robert Fuest

Pru is asked to investigate the theft of an old Debussy manuscript from an exclusive piano emporium. The thief turns out to be an attractive young music buff - a member of a family of thieves who are not all as harmless as he is.

12 Blue For Danger
Episode 1-12, first aired 06/28/1985
Director: Jeremy Burnham
Writer: Tom Clegg

When Mrs. Driscoll asks the 'EYES' operatives to follow her husband, it seems a perfectly straight forward assignment. It turns out to be the most perilous case they have ever handled, leading Maggie into deep waters, where a ruthless and terrifying adversary lurks.

13 One Away
Episode 2-1, first aired 04/05/1986
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: Dennis Abey

Edward Stone, a Soviet spy serving a life sentence in a top security jail, makes a daredevil escape by posing as an army officer in a jeep. Beth, Stone's illegitimate daughter, is kidnapped by Stone's accomplices - she is unaware of her father's identity. Awaiting his escape to Russia, Stone insists on phoning his estranged wife to arrange a meeting. Tension mounts as Maggie's life is endangered, Stone tries to effect his escape to Russia and persuade Beth to accompany him, and a Home Office contact, O'Donahue's. true allegiance is revealed.

14 Powerline
Episode 2-2, first aired 04/12/1986
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: Ian Sharp

When undercover agent Shirley is killed in some lonely woodland, Fred and Tessa investigate posing as 'travellers' and join a band of nomadic religious freaks camping rough on Lord Leydon's estate. Tessa goes to Manor House to visit the impoverished James Leydon who already suspects her of working with the 'thought police'. A 'friend' of Jamie's, Barbara Dalchley, turns out to be in league with Sergei, a Russian defector, and Seth, one of the 'travellers' whose mission is to take pictures of nuclear missile bases. A security patrol around the estate rescue Fred and Tessa when their camper van is sabotaged, and the episode ends with Tessa involved in a shoot-out.

15 Hit List
Episode 2-3, first aired 04/19/1986
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Writer: Raymond Menmuir

When an Arab prince and a group of foreign associates with Mafia connections are gunned down on a country estate, the 'EYES' team uncover a drug racket fronted by an international casino consortium. The Triads take exception to the Mafia trying to take a slice of their action and innocent and guilty alike fall by the wayside.

16 Good As New
Episode 2-4, first aired 04/26/1986
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: Carol Wiseman

When Sara John's, the daughter of a Russian defector is threatened by a Soviet agent while on a school trip, the 'EYES' team is alerted, and warning bells ring in Whitechapel where one employee shows a more than passing interest in their case. Fred and Tessa go undercover, posing as a grounds man and games mistress respectively, to protect the young schoolgirl while Maggie discovers that Sara's estranged parents are desperately close to revealing a major spy scandal, putting their daughter's life at risk.

17 Rough Trip
Episode 2-5, first aired 05/03/1986
Director: Gerry O'Hara
Writer: William Brayne

When a young schoolboy is abducted by a terrorist group, the C.A.T.S.EYES team discover that Simon Maxstead's father has access to some top secret government information for which the boy is being held to ransom. Nigel orders the case 'top priority' and Maggie, Tessa and Fred uncover a major international terrorist ring from Bangladesh posing behind a front of an innocent grocery shop.

18 Passage Hawk
Episode 2-6, first aired 05/10/1986
Director: Barry Appleton
Writer: Anthony Simmons

Jailed in South Africa for bank robbery, Ben Hutchins is released to custody in England as he is supposedly dying of cancer. On arrival, he tries unsuccessfully to escape from his "escort", Kerber, and evade Maggie and Nigel. Further checking by the 'EYES' team reveals that Hutchins health is, in fact, alright but Kerber, a well-known assassin has his own plans for a funeral at which four prominent black African leaders will be present.

19 Freezeheat
Episode 2-7, first aired 05/17/1986
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: Terry Marcel

drug racket, using a refrigerated trucking company, Coldburn, for cover, is exposed when Chas' lorry is attacked and he turns to Fred and the 'EYES' team for help and protection. When Chas is kidnapped and required to 'talk' by the Coldburn men, his silence is punished by being locked in the deep freeze. The 'EYES' team arrive in the nick of time to save Chas from a chilly ending and a top ranking drug squad commander is exposed.

20 Fit
Episode 2-8, first aired 05/24/1986
Director: Reg Ford
Writer: Terry Marcel

During an army training stint for the 'EYES' team, Sir Jack Fenn tells Maggie that they are holding a top Czech spy, Kessler, for debriefing. On investigating the other recruits, she discovers that a number of them do not 'check out', and Fenn suspects that the KGB want Kessler - dead or alive. Events take on an unexpected turn when a kidnap and subsequent murder attempt on Kessler are foiled by the team, and Fenn also has something to hide.

21 Honeytrap
Episode 2-9, first aired 05/31/1986
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: Robert Fuest

Yuri Yevgenev, a Russian secret agent, lands up in the local police station after being set up by Maggie and the Special Branch boys. In the ensuing KGB attempts to have Yuri returned, Maggie's life is threatened, and Tessa and Fred discover that a Home Office secretary supplied information leading to Maggie's capture. Fred and Tessa affect a dramatic rescue and save Maggie from impending torture.

22 Crack-Up
Episode 2-10, first aired 06/07/1986
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: Edward Bennett

Following a car bomb, the 'EYES' team's police contact Roddy is seriously injured, and the team are accused of negligence. Maggie feels responsible and after a period of erratic behaviour, she collapses and is diagnosed as being mentally exhausted. During convalescence, her memory starts to return, and then the truth drug is administered, her recollections reveal unexpected double dealing.

23 Tranmere Dan And Tokyo Joe
Episode 2-11, first aired 06/14/1986
Director: Jenny McDade
Writer: Dennis Abey

When two ex-P.O.W's think they recognise a frighteningly familiar face on the front page of a newspaper, they call in the 'EYES' team to investigate. Meanwhile, Tessa goes undercover as the chauffeur to a junior Government Minister with bizarre tastes which lead the team on a calamity course to danger.

24 Twelve Bar Blues
Episode 3-1, first aired 04/25/1987
Director: Andy de la Tour
Writer: Gerry Mill

What's the link between the murder of a stripper in a Middle East nightclub, and Jethro Blackstock, who runs a talent agency and lives in luxury on the South coast? The 'EYES' team investigate a number of cases of arms going missing from local military establishments, and Tessa gets a job as a barmaid in a seedy pub, to find out more. Maggie meets an 'old flame', Derek Moore, who warns her of the dangers involved with Blackstock. The girls remain convinced he is connected with the arms smuggling.

25 Carrier Pigeon
Episode 3-2, first aired 05/02/1987
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: J.B. Wood

Fred is visiting Amsterdam for a few days break when she recognises an old school friend working with a film crew who are making a commercial. Later in a Dutch disco, Fred meets up with Sara Fields and they remember the old days. Flying back home, Sara is caught smuggling drugs through customs and is arrested. Convinced her friend is innocent, Fred puts her own life on the line to prove it but was it worth it.

26 Country Weekend
Episode 3-3, first aired 05/09/1987
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: Raymond Menmuir

Tessa visits her mother in the country for the weekend, accompanied by Fred. Their break is interrupted when three men arrive and hold them all hostage, and the relaxing weekend does not turn out the way anyone expects.

27 The Big Burn
Episode 3-4, first aired 05/16/1987
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: Alan Bell

The discovery of electronic listening 'bugs' on some valuable antiques stolen from a country house, leads Maggie, Fred and Tessa into the world of espionage and petty crime. The bugs are 'foreign' in design, but why should they have been placed in the home of jailed forger Joe McCrewer.

28 A Naval Affair
Episode 3-5, first aired 05/23/1987
Director: Francis Megahy
Writer: Claude Whatham

Ship designer Alan Moss' house burns down and all his work on revolutionary design concept for warships is destroyed. His plans had previously been rejected by the Admiralty and he was successfully going it alone until the fire. The 'EYES' team join Moss on a sailing trip which goes wrong when the rudder breaks, but they manage to get safely back to shore. An explosion at Maggie's flat seems like another attempt to kill Moss and Maggie goes to the Admiralty where she meets Commander Hutchins, a supporter of Moss' designs.

29 Family Tradition
Episode 3-6, first aired 05/30/1987
Director: Paul Wheeler
Writer: Raymond Menmuir

Following an annual lunch with close friend Sir Edward John - who recruited Nigel - the 'EYES' team investigate Sir Edward's son Howard, a civil servant with access to secrets, who is reportedly acting strange. Maggie gets to know the Howard family when she goes to Sir Edward's 70th birthday party with Nigel. After Howard fails in a suicide bid, Maggie discovers Sir Edward's 'secret' and the reason for Howard's behaviour.

30 Backlash
Episode 3-7, first aired 06/06/1987
Director: Terence Feely
Writer: Francis Megahy

Pressed into taking a fortnight's holiday, Maggie looks up an old school friend but within hours they both narrowly escape a hit and run driver. Then while visiting a stately home, tumbling scaffolding seems like another deliberate attempt on Maggie's life. So, when her friend Penny is shot, a guilty Maggie is determined to find out who is responsible and uncovers some disturbing revelations.

MY COMMENTS

       I have seen several references to this series and each one seemed to mention this being a British Charlies Angels, sorta. So, I bring it up again. To me the similarity is that each show had three attractive women. That is about it for me.
       The feel of this series is a good deal grittier than CA. There is far less of a jiggle-factor to it as well although there is some eye candy.
       And whereas CA almost never touched on anything spy related (IMHO), C.A.T.S. Eyes is all about the spy missions.
       I have only been able to watch a small number of the episodes on YouTube. I would not mind watching more.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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