Review: Republic of Doyle

When Republic of Doyle premiered on the CBC on January 6th, viewers approaching it with a certain trepidation could be forgiven. The unbridled hype generated by the press didn’t always help. Was this just another example of the “local is good” mindset that squanders any hope of intelligent criticism and artistic growth?

More importantly, now that the show has actually started, is Republic of Doyle any good?

For that last question, the short answer is “yes.”

Allan Hawco stars as Jake Doyle, a private investigator who is more like the nitwit Columbo pretended to be than an actual PI. It’s a solid detective show with a lively performance from Hawco. The pace is fast and there are some great one-liners. That the first episode makes reference to Polka Dot Door instantly puts me in its good graces.

The series also boasts a refreshingly uncool lead character, for the genre. Jake Doyle is not tortured, he’s not all-knowing, or even tragically flawed, he’s just a guy with a few skills trying to get by. After years of CSI characters who seem to solve crimes by reciting exposition to each other for an hour, Jake is a nice change.

Though Doyle makes for an entertaining hour with a winning sense of humour, there are few stumbles evident in the first episode. The most obvious offender being the music, as evidence by the sub-CSI theme tune and an unimaginative musical score, dominated by accordion. For a show that thankfully doesn’t put on airs with obnoxiously fake accents or caricatured writing, the music is a disappointing descent into “Newfoundlandsturbation.”

It’s also a bit off-putting to see the show’s female supporting cast given nothing to do. Naturally, the program will not have taken shape by the end of the first episode, so this will likely not be the case forever. The same could be said about the sitcommish relationship that Jake has with his ex-wife, which will hopefully lead somewhere more interesting than seeing the two of them alternately sniping and/or snogging.

So! To those who have yet to see it, put your minds at ease. Republic of Doyle is good enough to partially erase the foul memories of previous local TV productions, and may even give CBC a much-needed hit.

15 comments

Salmonier animal checklist

Salmonier animal checklist

Jennifer Barrett’s (of Werebears and Only Children fame) post on her blog about her experience at the Salmonier Nature Park did two things to me: A) Reminded me that the Salmonier Nature Park exists, and B) Taught me that arctic fox (unfortunately) like cheesies. You can see her map/checklist here.

11 August 2009

  1. areeno · August 11, 2009

    Wow, second episode was better than the first by leaps and bounds. Good stuff!

  2. jomasi · August 11, 2009

    Oh, Republic of Doyle… so painful. I’ve looked forward to this show for a long time as I thought the premise, actors & location shots would combine for an entertaining show. Instead, it has been dreadful. I understand chemistry takes time to evolve, but my God… its as though the scripts were handed out and the final cuts shot within minutes. And speaking of the scripts, could they be any weaker? Prime example from Ep.2: the girl is found dead & an investigator explains it appears a blunt, thin object was used. “Like a hockey stick, or crowbar?” the blond robot cop replies. I honestly thought the next line would be, “Similar, but it probably had wheels as well” C’mon people, give your audience some credit. If you’re going to dumb it down like that, why not just show the crime being committed ala Columbo style?

    In any case, after 2 shows Republic of Colin Farrell, I mean Doyle, has been ridiculously disappointing. I truly hope it comes around.

    OH YEAH… last night wasn’t a complete disaster… I did chuckle at the Sweating Bullets reference.

  3. Michael Collins · August 11, 2009

    After episode one, my attitude toward the show was “positive, but with several reservations.”

    After episode two, my attitude is “mostly positive!” The mystery was a lot more, well, mysterious (or mystery-y!), the chemistry between the characters was developed nicely, and St John’s continues to look bloody gorgeous (oh lord it makes me homesick to see this show). I am eagerly looking forward to Ep3.

    I just really, really wish they’d get rid of that godawful “OH YEAH!” It’s just . . . . no, guys. No. Every time you go to commercial break I expect the kool-aid man to break through the living-room wall. Or Macho Man Randy Savage. Neither is advisable!

  4. Pedro Malamar · August 11, 2009

    why would you bother publishing the same negative review on two different sites? did they fire you?

  5. jomasi · August 11, 2009

    Kudos Pedro, you are quite the sleuth. Perhaps there is a future for you in the series.

  6. Disappointed · August 11, 2009

    I too looked forward to this and it is mediocre at best. St. John’s looks good. I liked the father. The main character is a big disappointment. I hope it improves or the ratings will see another 250k drop!

  7. Mara · August 11, 2009

    This isn’t HBO….. it’s CBC and in my opinion one of the best light-hearted series that CBC has produced in a long time. Why must everyone be so critical?? I’ve really enjoyed both episodes of the show, that being said, I havn’t been watching it with a critical eye but an optimistic one.

    Congratulations to everyone who worked on “Republic of Doyle” for succesfully providing me an entertaining new Wednesday tradition.

  8. L.A. in T.O. · August 11, 2009

    I’m digging this show more and more with every episode.

    Funny, sharp, clever, and great cast chemistry. I likes it, so I do!

  9. gabe ripley · August 11, 2009

    it’s thick with cheese. very weak. i posted something similar somewhere else on the site, i trust the lawsuits will come fast and furious.

  10. moops · August 11, 2009

    Yeah, let’s give the guys a chance! It’s a bit of fun, it’s set in gorgeous St. John’s, the main characters are entertaining, and it’s the first show in a long time set in St. John’s where the characters are people you wouldn’t mind being related to. Here’s hoping the women start getting some decent, fun, and interesting things to do. Now wouldn’t that be a switch? And please keep the bar high on your writers ROD! As in, keep looking for talent for your team and don’t settle for predictable. Newfoundland is full of it, isn’t it?

  11. Marie T · August 11, 2009

    Love the scenery, St. John’s and St. Pierre are awesome–this should be great for tourism.The show is good, especially for home grown. It’s as good as similiar Hollywood productions. Seems people expect too much, just shut off the critique and enjoy. It’s supposed to be an entertaining hour and it is. It’s not deep philosophy or anything. Chill out.

  12. Leah Laporte · August 11, 2009

    Love the show. I was surprised to see Ian Tracy, But I guess he’s got to do something now that the brains have cancelled the best show no longer going, Intelligence. Too bad someone could not pick it up for a third season. I never missed an episode. But back to The Republic of Doyle. There are some good lines. And all the characters are interesting, even if it is a bit predictable. Allen Hawco is adorable,and the women are great too. Not to mention the beautiful scenery. Makes me want to go there. Keep on keepin’on. Leah

  13. Ruth McVeigh · August 11, 2009

    I love Republic of Doyle. Where has it gone? WHEN will it return? Why doesn’t CBC make it easier to ask questions like this?

  14. Robert · August 11, 2009

    Em… I am pretty sure they are filming it.
    I’ve walked past them filming it twice now.
    Season 2 is coming out in January?
    You need to Twitter. ;)

  15. Adam · August 11, 2009

    REPUBLIC OF DOYLE IS AWESOME, BUT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BRING BACK THE MASSEUSE! SHE’S THE HOTTEST THING I’VE SEEN ON THE SHOW YET! DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT HER?

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