Republic of Doyle — The Complete Third Season
CBC Television hasn't had many sizeable hits in the last few years, but Republic of Doyle is as close as it gets. Set in Newfoundland, it catalogues the adventures and misadventures of Jake Doyle, a private investigator in St. John's. Allan Hawco is great in the title role; he makes an incredibly plausible and likeable lead, ably carrying the show. The supporting cast is solid, especially Mark O'Brien, who plays Doyle's sidekick, Des Courtney, providing much of the comic relief. They even manage to lure in a few guest stars, including Russell Crowe and Shannon Tweed. Republic of Doyle isn't quite a love letter to St. John's, but there's no doubt that the city is an ever-present character, ensuring there's never any doubt that this is a Canadian show. There's grittiness to the visuals that might be attributed to budget issues, but I'm happier thinking it was an active choice to make the show look more like its subject matter — small-time Newfoundland crime isn't particularly glamorous. One of the big problems with this third season is that the writing is horribly inconsistent. The show has always tried to strike the balance between comedy and drama because, ultimately, Doyle is a competent private investigator who often gets lucky and finds himself stumbling through situation after situation. It definitely lacks realism, but it also lacks the gloss that most American cop shows possess. Yet it falls into its familiar plot holes — it doesn't do soap opera-like interactions well and characters from earlier seasons return and do the same annoying things as before. Plus, any twists thrown in can be seen coming a mile away. Most annoying is that the whole storyline of Doyle being forced into becoming a member of the Newfoundland Royal Constabulary is tossed aside far too quickly when it could have injected some new life into the show. Every good episode is counterbalanced by a lacklustre one and the best way to approach Republic of Doyle is to simply look at it as an entertaining show with a strong cast and charming setting. It isn't a case of lowering expectations as much as accepting it at face value — there's a reason it is one of CBC's most watched shows and is returning for a fourth season. Whether it stands up to repeated viewings is another matter altogether. The addition of three very chatty commentary tracks and a 20-minute "behind the scenes" featurette might make this three-disc set more attractive to fans, but this season verges on being too generic for its own good.
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