Happy Republic of Doyle Season 5 premiere day!
It’s always lovely when we talk to Jake Doyle himself, and this afternoon, we had the chance to get on the phone with Allan Hawco to chat about Season 5, which premieres tonight on CBC.
This season, we get an expanded roster of 16 episodes and Hawco says that’s been a great bonus–and it means this is the first season to air while the show is still in production (they’re working on episode 11 now).
“By the middle of Season 4. I was burnt out–I was a jack of all trades and master of none,” he says. “So I had to re-evaluate. The show ended on a strong note, and I wasn’t sure I could sustain that for Season 5.” He realized some changes were needed to help lighten his load. Perry Chafe was upped to co-showrunner. “[And] Rob Blackie and John Vatcher had to step up in post production and as producers and become more actively involved in the creative side of things…to help me carry the load and actively engage and lead the way in a bunch of ways,” he says. “[And Season 5] just got better and better and better.”
They had just three weeks between completing the end of Season 4 and starting pre-production on Season 5, so it was a big order to get ready. “There’s always [been] an episode that I’m not in love with and I’d do extra work in post-production,” he says. “They still had the ‘Doyle’ feel, but I’m hard on myself when I watch them. We wanted to avoid that this season [and I think we have].”
Now that he’s lightened his showrunner responsibilities, Hawco is most excited to get back to playing Jake. “Jake is my favorite character I’ve ever played so it was great to be able to focus on that,” he says. Despite getting smacked around a few times in the premiere, Hawco says it’ll taper off. People will still take a swing now and again, but they won’t all land.
Last month, Republic of Doyle started airing in syndication across the U.S. and Hawco never imagined that it would be seen so far and wide. It hasn’t changed how he’s writing it, though–it’s still a show for the home crowd. When I mentioned that in some markets it’s been swapped in where Davinci’s Inquest had been airing, he was pleased. “That’s a huge honor,” he says. “It was one of [my] inspirations for doing our show.”
Coming up this season, Ryan Robbins steps into a recurring role. Hawco pronounces him a “a hell of a guy and such a great actor. Like all the great actors I’ve had, he’s raring to do anything.” Onscreen, Hawco says Robbins’ character “has the potential to ruin everything.” He adds there will be a couple of troublemakers this season, and that having 16 episodes allowed them to delve a little more into the recurring characters’ individual stories.
Season 5 will continue the grand tradition of awesome guest stars, too. Scott Grimes is back, and Hawco was thrilled to get him. “He’s a fantastic actor and great person,” he says. The downside, if any, is that they struggle to get filmable takes, spending 90% of their time laughing. “Imagine me, Scott, Allan Doyle, and Mark O’Brien [in a room] and trying to get a word in. None of us shut up the whole time.”
Also on deck this season–Lola Tesh, Shannon Tweed and daughter Sophie Tweed-Simmons, and Victor Garber, for what Hawco thinks is their “best Victor Garber episode ever.” “Stuart Margolin comes to join us, which is very special,” he adds. “And Max Martini, who is Stuart’s stepson.”
I asked Hawco if he gets random phone calls from people who want to come do an episode. “Yep,” he says. “I have those conversations a lot with people. Scott Grimes will do whatever. Paul Gross will come whenever. I just text him when he’s coming. He knows what it’s like to be showrunner [and he can figure it out when he gets here].”
Also returning to the cast, Jake’s beloved GTO. Hawco says he’s always seen the GTO as a physical representation of where Jake is, and as another interviewer suggested, where Hawco is. This season, it’ll “get [a] full restoration…it’s polished and beautiful and four to the floor.”
Hawco is thrilled about what’s coming. “A lot of the episodes are stronger than they’ve ever been, and the mystery plots are tight,” he says. “It’s fun to watch and fun to do and I’m very excited about the season premiere.”
Oh yeah! Republic of Doyle airs tonight on CBC at 9 pm ET/9:30 NT.
Here’s a sneak peek: