“REPUBLIC OF DOYLE” STAKES CLAIM TO AN AMUSING CRIME DRAMA
A TV Review by Tim Riley
“REPUBLIC OF DOYLE” ON NETFLIX
To say that we are living in crazy times gets even weirder when you ponder that the origin of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been identified by experts to have originated in bats sold at “wet markets” in Wuhan.The coronavirus is a zoonotic disease that jumps from animals to humans. Some researchers say that bats may have passed the virus to pangolins, which then passed it to humans. Civets might also be involved. What are pangolins and civets anyway?
Whatever the case may be with this virus that is grinding our country, and especially California, to a virtual halt, movie theaters are closed and the studios have delayed their releases. James Bond won’t even show up in his new film until November.Now that we have all become shut-ins, what to do for some entertainment besides reading and playing video games? It’s time to check out television and cable shows and subscribe to Netflix or other streaming services.
On the recommendation of a friend, I tuned into the Canadian crime series “Republic of Doyle” on Netflix. Granted it’s not new; the six-season series got its start a decade ago, but it’s not dated by any topical references to current events or the latest gossip from Hollywood. To its credit, “Republic of Doyle,” more than a detective show procedural, thrives on the comedic undertones of a dysfunctional father-son team running a family private eye business.
As the patriarch of the enterprise, Sean McGinley’s Malachy Doyle is a former police officer in St. John’s, Newfoundland and his son Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) has had an abbreviated law enforcement career for reasons not explained at least in the first season.
With a roving eye for every pretty woman that crosses his path, Jake is in the throes of a volatile dissolution from his soon-to-be ex-wife Nikki (Rachel Wilson), a doctor at the local hospital who often treats one of the Doyle family members for on-the-job injuries. The relationship between Jake and his father is often fraught with comic tension, as they both express their emotions and personality quirks through a combination of disdain, annoyance and crankiness.
For the widower Malachy, his irascibility flows partially from the frustration of having the separated Jake bunking in at his house when he’s in a relationship with his live-in new love Rose (Lynda Boyd), a strong-willed partner who helps out the detective business.Thinking of a similar father-son dynamic for a television series brings to mind the one-season Netflix series “The Good Cop” in which Tony Danza’s former rogue NYPD cop lives with his straight-laced NYPD detective son (Josh Groban) and offers him street-wise advice.
Luck often seems to elude Jake, whether he’s about to have a romantic fling or facing violent conflict with a criminal. At one point, Malachy exclaims “why is it every time we do anything you take a beating?” In the very first episode, Jake is in hot pursuit of tagger Des (Mark O’Brien) who believes his graffiti is a work of art. Jake thinks otherwise when Des retaliates by spray painting his classic 1968 Pontiac GTO.
Before long, Des ends up working for the Doyle family business as an apprentice, showing aptitude for the work even though a lot of the time he’s as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof. Another great dynamic in this series is Jake’s infatuation with the pretty Constable Leslie Bennett (Krystin Pellerin), soon to be a Sergeant, that turns into an on-again, off-again relationship that depends on how Jake flubs a rendezvous or trips up a police investigation.
Aside from the fact that Jake seems to get punched in the face or kicked in sensitive places about every five minutes, the best parts are the verbal lashings he endures from angry Nikki, exasperated Leslie and his annoyed father. The verbal jabs from Malachy are often priceless. On one occasion, the father unleashes by telling Jake “you are an accident waiting to happen. You are an emotional train wreck with behavioral disorders.”
One of the fascinating aspects of “Republic of Doyle” is the setting of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where the eye-catching, multi-colored houses and the arresting visuals of the scenic seaside vistas are a gift to the city’s tourism bureau. It’s not just the scenery of the remote eastern part of Canada that is terrific. Most of the talented primary actors, including show co-creator Allan Hawco, are from Newfoundland. That Sean McGinley is of Irish heritage makes him an outlier to all-Canadian cast.
The combination of clever plots, gifted actors, beautiful scenery and crisp, witty dialogue makes “Republic of Doyle” an enjoyable romp that offers plenty enough fun that alleviates the mind from thinking too much about the dire straits we are in at the moment.