'We're going to make a movie … so stay tuned." That's what Allan Hawco, who plays Jake Doyle, said recently. So there – good news about Republic of Doyle. (CBC, Wednesday, 9 p.m.) Oh yeah.
Tonight's episode takes place almost entirely inside a series of small rooms. There's an awful lot of talk. Just talk. The tires on Jake Doyle's GTO are not screechin'. There are no varmints being chased thither and yon around the sun-filled streets of St. John's. There isn't even a dame to get Jake going all "Hello, darlin'…"
Actually, the only darling he gets slightly smoochy with is his true love, the mercurial Sergeant Leslie Bennett (Krystin Pellerin), who looks him dead in the eye and says, in that way she does, "I love you, dats all. I wanna spend the rest of my life with you." Aw shucks, it's endearing.
The word "endearing" is apt for the show, which reaches its series finale next week. The series has been an excellent ride, a cornucopia of corn and silliness, an entertaining and often hilarious caper.
I recall sitting beside Hawco in a pew at Cochrane Street United Church in St. John's in December, 2009. Nobody had seen Republic of Doyle yet. It would start airing on CBC in January, 2010. The shooting of Episode 11 of the series had just finished in the church. "It's a nice little romp about a missing horse," Hawco said of the episode, "It's nothing heavy." And that sums up the series, really – frisky, light-as-a-feather, old-fashioned TV crime drama. Private-eye Jake Doyle taking small cases in St. John's – minor-league stuff that inevitably involved fist fights and charming the ladies. Dad Malachy (Sean McGinley) looking on dismayed.
Shenanigans. It looks easy to pull off, but it never is. Wednesday's episode (written by Marcus Robinson), all enclosed and lacking spectacle, tells us how much the audience is now involved with these characters. As constant Doyle-watchers will know, Jake has already been framed for murder. Now there's more trouble. The Doyles were hired to test a new security system. Things went awry. The woman who hired them ended up dead.
Meanwhile, Leslie is being investigated by Internal Affairs. "When did you plan to skip town with Jake Doyle?" some gruff guy in a suit demands. And Jake is being interviewed by some guy who snaps, "Time to fess up, Jake Doyle!" There's some sideline stuff about a fella who had a thing for the murdered woman and brought her flowers.
Thing is, on the night things went awry, the cops were called. Tinny Doyle (Marthe Bernard) is the cop who responded. Tinny has to explain her relationship with Des Courtney (Mark O'Brien), the Doyle clan's assistant of sorts. The pressure's on Tinny because you certainly can't expect Des to explain away anything in any plausible manner. Not Des's thing.
Anyway. Leslie gets barked at. Guy says, "You're a diry cop!" And Leslie answers, "How dare you!" Events unfold in this manner until Leslie figures out the frame-up. It gets sorted out but it isn't a totally happy ending – Jake's still framed for murder. That matter is the gist of the big finale next week.
You have forgotten much of Republic of Doyle soon after an episode ends. It never required you to think about the boundaries of TV drama. But it has had some memorable storylines and batches of episodes. The casting of guest stars was inspired – Paul Gross and Gordon Pinsent did marvelous work as no-goodniks. And it was the core cast, especially Lynda Boyd as Rose, Bernard as Tinny and O'Brien as Des, who fully embraced the light, sweet tone and made the show captivating.
As Wednesday night's episode illustrates, even when there's no fist fighting, car chases and tomfoolery, the Doyle thing clicks and that is a fine achievement. Oh yeah.
All times ET. Check local listings.