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.

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  • IAgree

    I mostly agree with the above, If I did not live in St. John’s I would not watch it, However I do live in St. John’s therefore I will watch it and hope it gets better!!!

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  • Torquil

    The reason the CBC greenlit RoD is in large part because the corporation has to be seen to represent the various regions, not just the production centers of Toronto and Montreal. That said, it seems they didn’t look much past the line in the pitch that probably read something like, “…and each week viewers will be exposed to the uniqueness and the pretty painted houses of St. John’s.” There’s nothing wrong with St. John’s (or its pretty painted houses), but there has to be more to make people want to tune in to watch a major Canadian drama each week.

    From what I saw in the first episode, the characters lack any sort of complexity or interest – except, of course, if you consider the liberal sprinkling of Canadianisms as either complex or interesting. The script was flat and uninspired – and as much as Alan Hawco seemed to be imploring the audience to like him with his down home boy-from-the-east-coast wit and charm, it wore thin rather quickly. It’s not a bad series, but it’s not a great series either. I know it seems unfair, but if a series is going to draw an audience in this country, it HAS to be great.

  • Dave

    Personally I like the show. The first couple of episodes that had the narration were annoying but since then its been great. I am originally from St.Johns but have not lived there for 20 years. The shots of the city are great and the stories are entertaining. I hope it last for a while.

  • Lydia

    I love the show! Its great to have a mix of Humour and drama!
    Lets all get on the band wagon and support our Canadian talent..

  • Mason

    I’ve enjoyed the last couple of episodes.I’m originally from NFLD but have been in Vancouver 13 years.Nice to see Rob Joy and Sebastian Spence back home doing work after they have made names for themselves on the mainland.I like the humour. Reminds me a little of why I miss “The Beachcombers” good honest slightly naive(in a good way) Canadian television filmed in interesting locals.

  • glen

    show seems to have potential,hopefully it makes a go of it

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  • Meris K Brookland

    Judging from the comments above, I would say too many Canadians have been brainwashed by watching American TV programming with their fashionably dressed stars (many of whom couldn’t act their way out of a wet paper bag) and implausible plots and happy-ever-after endings. The RoD is as refreshing as air of the Atlantic Ocean and Mr. Hawco is a comedic gem. Give the show a chance; please!

  • T Laurens

    My husband and I have been watching the show from the start and we love it. It is funny the car is great,the characters are real and I agree with the above comment on american T.V. It is a Canadian show done by Canadians. What is wrong with it being another “buddy show”? The last thing we need is more reality (and I use that term very loosely)T.V. I HAVE 19 KIDS-IM STUCK ON AN ISLAND-YOUR FIRED. All my husband and I watch is British or Canadian T.V. becuse evrything else is crap. Give the show a chance.

  • Ken Lawrence

    I happen to really enjoy this show (which could be it’s kiss of death) because, unlike tv critics, I happen to enjoy something that makes me feel comfy and…..I do not need some over self-indulging intellectual tell me what I should like….sorry but some of the crap that they seem to be enthralled with is (because most of us are too, too bourgeious to ‘get it’) crap…plain and simple!!! This is a terrific show and maybe the ‘talking heads’ at the beloved ‘corporation’ can get their heads out of their asses and listen to the ‘unwashed masses’ who appreciate a program that entertains for sixty minutes….ya, ya it’s asking for a lot but I still dare to dream!!!! RoD…I’m looking forward to next season!!!!!!!!

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  • Xar

    WHAT is with all the sour grapes?! C’mon people! I frikkin’ LOVE this show! I made sure I was home to watch every single episode, and each had me laughing – nay, guffawing – out loud. Love the characters, LOVE the scenery (of course, and yes, I’m sure it showed all the 20 days of nice weather in St. J’s), and you know what, I even liked the plots. Maybe it’s because my Mom was strict and I never got to watch Magnum PI when I was little, because for me, it’s all new and fun. And I think the mysteriy plots are great – I never know what’s going on and they’re different from all those slick Law & Order look-alikes in the States. So go ahead – make fun of me because I’m a T.V. ignoramus and because I live in the city the rest of the country loves to hate, but I say, Republic of Doye ROCKS. Go Doyle!

    Xar in T.O.

  • Nick

    I think it is good. It’s light, pleasant comedy. The actors all do a good job and have there characters down well. Saint John’s makes a picturesque back drop. It was nice to see Gordon Pinsent as a guest star. I don’t believe RoD deserves the harsh critique the first few gave it. I hope it has a good long run so we see more of Nfld. and of a pleasant comedy/mystery.
    Good work
    Nick from Quebec City

  • Pansy Burke

    Love this show, just LOVE it!! GO HAWKO!!! It’s about time that we get something OTHER than those stupid reality shows!!!!!!!! Wouldn’t miss an episode of RoD for anything!!

  • Brian Leslie

    I like the show and the Newfoundland touch. It is a funny wholesome dramady for the whole family to enjoy. However, I have learned not to get hooked on any C.B.C. show for too long because they will cut it eventually.

    Look what they did to The Hour now it’s The Half Hour and then it will be The Newsflash!!!!

    Poor talented George Strombo and Hawko. Both of them should to go south like all the great Canadian talent before them to get respect, apreciation for their work and perhaps a more regular pay cheque!

  • catherine hutchinson

    When is RofD on – or has some “talking head” decided to cancel it? It was a terrific show, good story line, great comedy,and NOT an American reality show! Come on guys, give your head a shake!!! C. Hutchinson


    I love this show and I got to agree with most of the previouscomments.It is so refreshing than the not so (reality) shows that are on. At least this is pure entertainment. I have not missed an episode and I was thrilled when it came back. I am hoping cbc will keep it around for awhile. I finally have something I acutally look forward to looking at. So come on all you Newfie from all over Canada support ROD and give the show some great ratings.

  • George Seagull
  • Eric

    Great show! I can see why you’ve got 4 years going….. One major problem? Sean is the most mis-cast character in the show…. taking it from the believable to the unbelievable. He is as FAR from a “ex-police officer” with hard-nosed knowledged of the ‘real-world’ out there as an ‘older-man’ can be….totally out of sync with what WAS/IS…….. What qualifies me to suggest that????? (A true-blue NLer with 36 years in the business (RCMP) who moved back home in ’07.

    Sean’s character needs a burly stature with what looks like a broken nose, a few scars… a burly disposition that shows the audience that he has “been there and got the tee-shirt”…

    Touch base with me!… I’ve got 38 years of ‘old school’ experience as a police officer… I can help you at every scene – What is ‘police’ reality and what is (and will/does come across as ‘stupid’ in today’s street life… I know the cinematic business a little – having been involved in past stuff such as the (Sue Rodriguez Story with Wendy Crewson and Al Waxman..etc) filmed in F’ton NB a number of years ago …

    Touch base with “Casting with Maggie”… I’m available here in St.John’s, I’m retired, so I’m ‘always available’, even for a chat and suggestions!


  • Lvn

    Watching RoD courtesy of AcornTV and i must say it is a crap show. There was another review prior to this one i read that was a great critique like this one and i totally agree with both! Unfortunately the cultural aspects are of little interest to me since i am not Canadian but i do appreciate good acting, great writing, and superb direction which is what i have gotten used to in other mystery/crime/comedy shown on Acorn (Jeeves, Blandings, Foyle, Gently, the Brief, Pie in Sky, Etc.). I am not sure why the shows creator, Hawco, thinks he can act (or write for that matter) but this show is shallow and aeriously lacking. I thought since it was on Acorn that it would hav authentic Irish/English actors like Ballykissangel and Love/hate but the characters seem little rehearsed, not well developed and the actors dont seem to have any chemisry onscreen (i.e. father & son Doyle).