I can't say I ever pictured myself standing in a Masonic temple talking about the Christian Brothers. But it happened, once.
It was a day in August of 2006. I was in St. John's and taking part in an event called A Bulletin of Doyles, at the Masonic Hall on Cathedral Street. Everyone doing their thing was a Doyle. Marjorie Doyle read from her book, as did I. Damhnait Doyle sang two songs and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea topped the bill, singing with his father Tom Doyle.
When it was my turn - reading a small portion of my book about growing up in Ireland - I began by saying how pleased I was to be, at last, in "the People's Republic of Doyle." The line got a good laugh and was mentioned in local coverage of the event.
Time passed. About two years later I was at a performance of something-or-other (a Newfoundland play for sure) at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronna, with some friends. Before the show started I was introduced to a certain Allan Hawco, who told me he was developing a pilot for a possible CBC series. It was called, he said, "The Republic of Doyle." Looks were exchanged, some of the people present having been at the Bulletin of Doyles in St. John's. Hawco was oblivious. He had a copy of the script with him, if I wanted a read. In fact he took it out of his bag and showed me the title page. I told him it was a great title, wished him the best of luck.
Time passed, again. In December of last year I was back in St. John's, on the set of Republic of Doyle. I told you all about it in last Saturday's paper. Now, more time has passed. Tonight's the night.
Republic of Doyle (CBC, 9 p.m.) is deliriously foolish, empty-headed, old-fashioned TV. It's preposterous, but it isn't twaddle. It's not going to make you think deeply, unless you're inclined to think very deeply about the possibility that there are an awful lot of rogues in St. John's, Nfld.
What you see tonight (directed with aplomb by Mike Clattenburg, creator and main man behind Trailer Park Boys) gives you the full flavour. Jake Doyle (Hawco) is pursuing a young lad through the streets, lanes and alleys of St. John's. Jake's dad Malachy (Sean McGinley) is helping out in a truck. The lad has done nothing more than decorate some space with graffiti but, because Jake and Malachy are small-time private investigators, it's their kind of case. Once captured and held in the chaotic Doyle household, the suspect starts flirting with Malachy's teenage granddaughter, Tinny (Marthe Bernard). Stuff happens. Next thing you know, the Doyle boys have a serious case to investigate.
A fella named Benny (Shaun Majumder), an old pal of Jake, is charged with manslaughter in the death of some fella on a boat. Benny is a DJ. Lord only knows what was going on - drug dealing, smuggling, maybe murder. Thing is, Benny says he remembers nothing and doesn't want to remember. Stuff happens. Fist-fights. It all works out.
You'll have forgotten much of it, soon after it ends. Republic of Doyle is not pushing the boundaries of TV in any sense. It's very male, with Hawco and McGinley being the key characters. But as often happens, the stuff you might remember involves the secondary - in this case, female - characters. Lynda Boyd is great as Rose, Malachy's girlfriend and the rueful voice of reason. Rachel Wilson is a firecracker as Nikki, Jake's ex-wife and the woman he can't leave alone. Most bewitching is Krystin Pellerin as Constable Bennett, a cop who foolishly falls for Jake's alleged charms.
Don't expect anything fancy from Republic of Doyle, and you'll be fine with it. It happens.
Doyle clarification of sorts here - in Saturday's story I synopsized the legend that had grown up around Republic of Doyle in the TV racket, including the departure from the show of Denis McGrath and two other writers. McGrath wrote to the editor of this section wanting it pointed out that his "association with the show" ended July 23, and the other two writers were let go Aug. 6, not in October, as the legend had been synopsized.
Check local listings.
Also airing :
I Get That A Lot (CBS, 8 p.m.) is a celebrity prank show. The second of what will obviously be a series of specials, it's Candid Camera all over again. We get Julie Chen ( The Early Show, Big Brother host) working at a yogurt shop, Paris Hilton as a gas station employee, hip-hop dude Snoop Dogg as a parking lot attendant, Rachael Ray working at a dry cleaner, Gene Simmons of Kiss as a psychic guru. By far the best of the bunch is Hilton, who already plays and enjoys being a character she inhabits but can abandon with ease. Is it funny? No.
Dragons' Den (CBC, 8 p.m.) is also a celeb-fest. Tonight's show features guest panelists Jeanne Beker, Mike Holmes and Debbie Travis. No, seriously. Celebrities galore. Nostradamus Effect (History, 8 p.m.) is all doomsday-prophecies and run-for-your-lives, people. Riffing on The Da Vinci Code and other nonsense about codes, symbols and, somehow, tied to our old friend Nostradamus - who prophesized everything, up to and including Facebook and Twitter - the program is terrifically idiotic hooey. Apparently Leonardo Da Vinci left subtle hints in his work that a big ol' flood would wipe out civilization. Or something. A voice at the beginning says, "We will neither refute nor endorse these theories. Merely present the evidence." You're darn-tootin'. J.D.