The most important thing to remember about the first episode of Republic of Doyle is that it's the pilot episode. So, in a sense, it means nothing. They're just hoping they've hooked you hard enough to make you want to come back the next week while they try to figure out what the hell they're doing. The pilot is as much a chance of the people making the show to see what works and what doesn't as it is for those watching it for the first time.
The pilot episode of MASH bears little resemblance to how the show eventually evolved. It also wasn't that great. On the other hand, the pilot for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is one of the best I've ever seen, and the show went catastrophically off the rails after that. I still get upset thinking about that show and want to punch Aaron Sorkin for managing to fuck it up so totally.
Anyway, back on track here. I liked Republic of Doyle, I did. There were times when I laughed out loud at stuff, it looks beautiful and from a pure Newfoundlander perspective it was nice to see St. John's look quite that good on national television. Plus the lead character of Jake Doyle is a fun guy to watch. And really, you need the like the lead on a show like this or you're doomed from the start.
I do have problems, though. I'm not going to complain about the story or anything like that. They've made it very clear from the start that the origins of this show are based on programs like The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. I'm looking for fun, not high art. Yes, there were one or two awkward bits of editing, but that's easily over-looked. And all right, some of the writing needed to be tidied up. The story recap and important lesson learned towards the end was just a touch awkward.
My main problems are with the acting. Yes, some of the guest actors and bit players won't be winning any Gemini awards. However, there are two instances in particular that worry me. The first is the relationship between Jake and his father. Allan Hawco and Sean McGinley are both good actors, but in the pilot they don't seem entirely comfortable with each other. If that was meant to be the dynamic of their father and son relationship, that would be fine. However, it feel more like they're not entirely 100% in synch with each other yet. Like they're still trying to figure out the relationship between the two men.
I'm not too worried about that yet. That'll come with time, however it is the key relationship in the show. So you have to believe they are father and son in the way they play off each other. Right now it feels more forced than smooth.
My other big concern is Krystin Pellerin, who plays the RNC constable who gets mixed up with Jake as a possible love interest. She gets better, right? Because not only is there zero chemistry between the two of them, she showed all the acting range of a deep freeze. A very pretty deep freeze, but a deep freeze all the same. Seriously, she gets better, right?
Let me make this clear...I like this more than any of the other recent TV offerings out of Newfoundland. There's tons of potential for a lot of fun. I like a show with sharp, quick, intelligent dialogue and as long as they emphasize that and work on the main characters, I'll forgive the odd bit of clunky plot and supporting actors still learning the trade. There's also some smart people involved in the show and I'm willing to bet they already know the flaws. I've mentioned - plus probably a bunch I missed - and are working on the fixes.
It's good enough to get me to come back for the next couple of weeks to see how things progress. I just hope they keep on working to tighten things up. It's good, but it has to get better if it's going to last.
1. Know your rights (live) - The Clash*
2. God, Part 2 - U2
3. The hardest part - Coldplay
4. You can't get what you want - Joe Jackson
5. The best is yet to come - Tonny Bennett and Diana Krall