By John Doyle/ February 5, 2013.
Yer man the former mayor is out of jail. Hopped the hoosegow. After doing time for the corruption thing and, anyway, the bloody man should have done more time for his outrageous treatment of the comely and driven Sergeant Leslie Bennett.
Meanwhile, there’s an eejit making porno films in the garage of a suburban St. John’s house. The same eejit’s ex, one Elsa, is involved in some skulduggery with yer man the former mayor. And in another twist, that young woman who is claiming to be Jake Doyle’s long-lost daughter – although it’s easy to believe she is that, given the saucy look on her face – is lifting Doyle’s money from the safe.
I haven’t written much about Republic of Doyle (CBC, 8 p.m.) this season. So there was some catching up to do, with tonight being the two-hour season finale.
It’s skulduggery galore, of course. And a glamorous guest star. Gangster types and their fawning lickspittles racing around St. John’s, plotting evil and putting the squeeze on decent people. Is Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) up for it? Well now, by the end of the two hours tonight, you’ll be wondering.
Things kick off with former Mayor Clarke (Rick Roberts) on the loose and braying about settling scores with Leslie (Krystin Pellerin) and Jake. It doesn’t help that Leslie is in the bad books of her boss, Inspector Valerie O’Brien (Natasha Henstridge, your glamorous guest star, ladies and gentlemen). One thing leads to another and there’s kidnapping, thievery and the matter of dangerous explosives being stolen.
It’s all tangled tomfoolery but there’s meat in it for closely watching followers of the Doyle saga. Leslie and Jake find themselves in an intimate encounter. Leslie is dressed only in a bedsheet. Honest to God! And Jake says, “I feel like I’ve been waiting to talk to you for months. Maybe my entire life, even?” Oh lordy, the romance is back on. To add fuel to the romantic fire, Leslie later observes of Jake, “You do have a way with kids.” But, to keep the action going, in another scene she cold-cocks the former Mayor.
In the second hour, there’s a fierce amount of car chases, narrow escapes and derring-do. I cannot give away the ending for this season. But I’ll tell you that you’ll be shocked. Shocked, I tell you. A song with the word “goodbye” used an awful lot is heard in the final scene.
Republic of Doyle took a blow when CBC changed its time slot and moved it to Sunday for a while. With the fierce competition on that night, the show’s ratings dropped. They haven’t fully recovered this season, but the raucous action and fun haven’t subsided.
The series is the most unlikely of iconic Canadian shows. Disliked by the self-important in the Canadian TV racket, it has successfully mined Newfoundland and old-fashioned TV storytelling to find a treasure trove of material – something that is both comedy and drama and always a cornucopia of homespun japes.
Watching the two hours of tonight’s ending, all the strengths and flaws are evident. It’s a bit too serious, too reliant on wildly elaborate criminal schemes to forge a plot. The wit gets a bit lost and it’s the wit that carries the series to its highes. A too-mature Jake Doyle makes for a too-serious Republic of Doyle. The series occupies the same territory as Corner Gas did – TV entertainment spun out of whimsy, nailed down to a specific locale and allowing well-defined characters to shine. (It also has the benefit of actors who look like real people, not merely botoxed wannabe actors.) It will be missed in the interval between seasons, which is more than can be said of some Canadian productions with far greater pretensions.
Written by John Doyle for The Globe and Mail