TV Review | Republic of Doyle 1.1

I honestly don’t understand the hype for Republic of Doyle (CBC: premiered January 6, 2010, 9:00 PM ET/PT.)  Newfoundland is capable of televisual greatness.  Unfortunately, CBC never greenlighted Town Beat!, so hard cheese.

The biggest problem with Republic of Doyle is that Newfoundland is ancillary to the show’s plot.  RoD is a generic mismatched-partners detective drama, the two “buddies” here being Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) and his father Malachy (Sean McGinley.)  They fight with each other and solve crimes.

With a rewrite or two, Republic of Doyle can be set anywhere in Canada.  Why is the antidote to quirky comedy ensembles (hi, Gullage’s) this generic thing?  It’s nice to see a Newfoundland show not conform to “Lard tunderin'” stereotypes, but it’s like Republic of Doyle balances one extreme with another.  Maybe I’m missing out on RoD‘s subtleties.  I don’t know.

Allan Hawco is Republic of Doyle‘s co-creator, star and showrunner, but Hawco doesn’t carry the show much.  He runs around, jumps off rooftops and threatens to electrocute bad guys with a hairdryer, but Sean McGinley’s the straight man knocking down Hawco’s pins.  McGinley doesn’t do much, yet is more appealing without even trying.  There’s a Shaun Majumder guest role, since this is Canada and familiarity is the status quo.

Republic of Doyle becomes more exciting in the second half, although by “exciting” I mean “not as boring.”  Republic of Doyle‘s first episode doesn’t interest me in its characters, showing off its Newfie credentials before going through detective-show motions.

Excuses have been made for Republic of Doylethe production was troubled, it’s a light dramedy, it’s a throwback to The Rockford Files and so forth.

All I care about is whether I can identify with Republic of Doyle, and I can’t.  It’s too contrived at this point.  When a show reminds me of SCTV‘s “Magnum, P.E.I.,” that’s not a good sign.  I hope Republic of Doyle can find its way, but Newfoundland deserves better.

C. Archer
Le Social