All Hail the Republic of Doyle

Every now and again, a show comes along that’s just a sheer joy to watch. Due South was a show like that for me in the early 90s, and in the late 90s, early 00s, Da Vinci’s Inquest/City Hall and Intelligence stepped in. When they ended, I made do on their reruns and DVDs. Last season, I test drove a show called Republic of Doyle because it had ties to the Da Vinci’s legacy in some of the casting, and I was wonderfully surprised by a series that’s alternately funny and charming, and at the end of the day, a lovely sweetheart of a show.

If you’re not watching it, you can buy the first-season DVDs, and if you’re in Canada, you can enjoy all of the second season, which is winding down now, online at The finale is set to air on April 6th, and there’s no sophomore slump to be found here. The brainchild of Newfoundlander Allan Hawco, who writes, produces, and stars as one of the namesake Doyles, Jake, Republic of Doyle is set in St. John’s and follows the exploits of Jake, an unwitting ladies man/detective/former cop, and his father and fellow PI/former cop, Malachy (“Mal,” played by Sean McGinley). I’d never seen Hawco before watching this show and I immediately went looking to see what else he’d done. None of it would prepare you for the multi-layered happiness that this show elicits.

The Doyles ramble from case to case while maintaining their love/hate rapport with each other and keeping a watchful eye on, and hand in, the shenanigans of their family. For Jake, that’s his former addict brother, Christian, a wise-beyond-her-years niece, Tinny (from another sibling we’ve not yet met), and Des, a twentysomething tagger from the pilot who stayed on as a wannabe apprentice PI and pseudo-Doyle. For Mal, it’s all of that, plus recovering from a heart attack at the end of last season, and keeping his longtime girlfriend and brand-new wife Rose (Lynda Boyd), happy. Rose was revealed in the first season to have had an unspoken previous life as a con artist, complete with a professional con artist mom and an ex-con ex-husband (Da Vinci’s Inquest franchise hallmark Nicholas Campbell).

Also complicating things for Jake is a doctor ex-wife, Nikki, with whom he’s on much friendlier terms this season, ex-girlfriend, police sergeant, Leslie (Krystin Pellerin), who’s now (sort of) happily dating the mayor (Rick Roberts), and current girlfriend, Crown Counsel Allison (Michelle Nolden), who’s separated from her husband. Both Roberts and Nolden co-starred with Hawco is the VERY dark Zone of Separation mini-series (again, no prep for the lighter energy of RoD). While Hawco creatively guides the show offscreen, onscreen, Jake flirts with the ladies, garners the laughs, and gets slapped around – when he’s not throwing punches of his own.

The case of the week is usually a protection detail, kidnapping, murder or robbery, fairly run-of-the-mill, but it’s the way Jake lackadaisically always seems to solve things – when you’re not completely sure he was even paying attention – that’s so keen. This season, we’ve had the added layer of watching him set aside his swagger to pine for Leslie, whom he’s not quite over, while starting a relationship with Allison, with whom he began a flirty banter and fell into bed, but doesn’t seem to have the same emotional pull to, so he keeps finding himself around Leslie.

A few weeks ago, Leslie put everything on the table for him, telling him that she still wanted to be with him, too. He rebuffed her (at gunpoint while on a case) and then finally caved and planted the mother of all kisses on her. Allison had been mulling a reconciliation with her husband, a wrinkle Jake was happy to have, until he learned her husband was abusive, so he put the smackdown on him, which brought him closer to Allison, which wasn’t really the goal. Drama!

In addition to making Jake a whole character, the show switches gears now and again to tell us more about the rest of the cast, too – a smart move for Hawco so he gets an onscreen break now and again. From a behind-the-scenes perspective, the show has a neat habit of reusing its guesters. Campbell had a significant run last season (alternating with Haven, which shot in Nova Scotia) and has been back again this season for a few episodes. Victor Garber reprised his role as a boozy, fatuous author, who launched a book series based on his season one exploits with Jake, and Canadian gem Gordon Pinsent (of Due South) dropped by to play a slightly menacing convict (who escaped at the end of his episode). Not to mention that the show shoots on location in St. Johns and is just gorgeously lensed. The music is always a treat, too, whether it’s Canadian fiddling or old gems from Johnny Cash, The Waterboys, and Dire Straits.

Every episode isn’t perfect, but you can usually find a moment in each one – a crafty plot turn, a simple touch or a look between characters – that resonates long after it ends. It’s such a good show, and CBC’s no dumbass. They’ve already picked it up for a third season. You can catch the last two episodes of this season over the next two Wednesdays on CBC, or marathon them online here.

Photo Courtesy of CBC

0 thoughts on “All Hail the Republic of Doyle

  1. Finally, somewhere I can comment about Christian’s alcohol consumption. As a drug addict, though no longer using, he NEVER GETS TO DRINK! FYI
    Bad writing, but I love the show and am saddened it’s almost done. Thanks

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