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 Doyle – the 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.