Doyle. It's only a name. And then it isn't merely a name - not here in Newfoundland, anyway, where you're tripping over people named Doyle. Or "Dile," as they say if they haven't been to university. I heard lead singer Alan Doyle of the band Great Big Sea say that. Said he didn't know his name was Doyle until he went to university. Before that he was called "Dile."
This story is, by the way, an epic of Doyle. If you have a problem with that, you're out of luck. Go home now to your mother and tell her you want your name to be Doyle. And good luck.
When I land in St. John's after midnight, the first thing I note, by the luggage carousel, is a man holding up a sign saying, "Sean McGinley." This is worth noting because McGinley, a distinguished Irish actor, is the co-star of Republic of Doyle , the reason why I'm here. The show is CBC's major new drama for 2010, the biggest TV thing ever made in Newfoundland and Labrador, and one of CBC's largest-budget series ever, with a cast of hundreds, all about a father and son private-eye team: Jake and Malachy Doyle.
Maybe it is due to the fact that we are so far away, and no one knows what is really going on. Allan Hawco
Later, luggage retrieved, I'm staring at the Blackberry, as a fool from Toronna does. I glance at the man with "Sean McGinley" sign, and he approaches. "Are you Sean McGinley?" I assure him I am not and, if the Irish actor had been on the flight from Toronna, I'd probably have recognized him. "I'd better check," the man says and wanders off.
I'm looking for the taxi stand when he next appears. "Have you something to do with Republic of Doyle ?" I tell him I'll be visiting the set next morning and I'm from The Globe and Mail. This cuts no ice. "What's your name?" he asks. "Doyle," I say. "Doyle!" he repeats, with exclamation marks and eyes wide as silver dollars. "In that case," he says, "I'll take you wherever you're going. Mr. McGinley won't be here for hours."
So the man, Jim, takes me to the hotel, where I check in as Doyle, like I usually do. There is a small fuss. I'm thirsty, you see. The mini-bar is as empty as the street outside. And the phone doesn't work. The latter is solved by use of the Blackberry. Not such a Toronna idiot, this Doyle. I call room service for a bottle of cold beer. "Oh now," the man says, "I think that's all locked up. I'll call you back." He does. "We could send you a draft beer," he says. "Grand," sez I, "Send it up, and I'll pay cash for it." "All right, and what's your name, sir?" he asks. "Doyle." Minutes later a young man arrives and, with a flourish, hands me a glass of cold beer. "A glass of beer, on the house, Mister Dile," he says. Hasn't been to university, obviously. Never mind. The Doyles are cruising here.
Next morning, at an unholy hour, I'm sitting in a pew at Cochrane Street United Church. Beside me is a fictional Doyle: Allan Hawco, co-creator and star of Republic of Doyle . The shooting for part of Episode 11 of the series has just finished in the church. "It's a nice little romp about a missing horse," Hawco says of the episode, "nothing heavy." And that sums up the series, really. From what I've seen, it's fun, light-as-a-feather, old-fashioned TV crime drama. Jake Doyle (Hawco) takes small cases in St. John's - piddly stuff that inevitably involves fist fights and charming the ladies. Dad Malachy (McGinley) looks on askance but mostly eggs him on. The cops are not amused but one young lady cop falls for Jake. Shenanigans ensue. The buzz on Republic of Doyle is - this ain't The Border; this is fun.