Republic of Doyle gets another rave review!


SABS would like to introduce you to Gord McDougall, aka TV Gord who, in the spirit of full disclosure, we believe to be truly awesome.  When his affinity for the Newfoundland production came to our attention - we asked if he would do us the honour of sharing his thoughts on the matter.  When someone who knows this much about TV tells you to watch should tune in!  Thanks TV Gord!!!

Why do I love Republic of Doyle as much as I do?

By Gord McDougall

On its surface, it’s a detective show set in St. John’s Newfoundland.  Beyond that surface, though, is a world of funny, relatable and even fascinating characters who seem to be drawn together by an oddly comforting contempt for one another (which is often found in some families).

Jake Doyle is man in his 30s who is at a crossroads.  His soon-to-be ex-wife has kicked him out, so he’s back living with his dad, his dad’s girlfriend and his sister’s 16-year-old daughter (another straggler who’s found her way into the household while her mother’s in Alberta, making good money).  Jake and his dad are partners in a detective agency, and they often butt heads on how Jake goes about his business (both “business” and “personal”, in fact).

Jake’s a bit of a charming scoundrel.  He drinks too much.  He follows his lust wherever it leads him, whether it’s back to the flailing arms of his erratic ex, Nikki, or to the confusing allure of Constable Leslie Bennett.  She’s his source with the police, who struggles with her love of the law and Jake’s propensity to cross the line to do his job.  Jake always tries to do the right thing, but sometimes he’s just unclear on what the right thing is.

Republic of Doyle returns to CBC Friday, July 9th...starting with the first episode. There's never been a better time to jump on the RoD bandwagon! 

The first thing that attracted me to Republic of Doyle is something that wouldn’t normally be a draw for me:  each episode seems to effortlessly work in a rollicking good fistfight!  You just don’t see those on TV anymore, and for some reason—in the context of this show—I find them to be quite refreshing.  They’re hilariously staged and downright entertaining, and when they’re over, everyone gets up and carries on, just as Wile E. Coyote does in the Road Runner cartoons.  Nobody gets hurt, but whoo, that was fun!

The other thing that gets worked into just about every episode is the use of the word, “arse”.  You’ve just gotta love that!

And still, it’s all just good, clean fun that most of us could watch with our grandmother (provided you’ve got a grandma who loves to laugh).  There’s action; there’s romance; there’s comedy and even a hint of drama.  The show seems to pull off a bunch of different elements with just the right amount of brashness and charm that never seems phony or forced.  These are people I want to know!

I also have to toss in that the setting of St. John’s is almost like a character unto itself.  Newfoundland is both exotic and familiar (to this Ottawa-born boy, anyway), and it often makes me think about what separates us as Canadians as well as what brings us together.  While I was born in the nation’s capital, I was raised across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, and I grew up through the height of that province’s separatist movement.  We were always hearing about “distinct society” THIS and “distinct society” THAT, and even though I was in the Anglo minority, I could see their point.  Quebec is unquestionably a distinct society.

Then, as I traveled across Canada, I discovered that every province seems to be its own distinct society, not just Quebec.  Newfoundland, arguably, is the most distinct of all! 

I say this with the full disclosure (and I also say it with some embarrassment) that Newfoundland is the only province that I have never visited.  Yet, while I haven’t been to Newfoundland, I feel Newfoundland first came to me in the form of Frank Kavanagh, a college buddy who moved to Ottawa for a time to study Broadcasting.  Frank and Jake Doyle could be brothers, and being Frank’s friend for those two years of school was like taking a “Newf-immersion” class!  (Thanks to him, I can comprehend a Newfoundlander without the need for subtitles.)

Frank’s personality was an unusual combination that I can only call a laid-back intensity (which also describes Jake Doyle), and he even came with his own catch phrase.  “What’re y’at?” was the rhetorical question Frank asked as a greeting whenever he entered a room.  Only a few days into the school year, and people were parroting that phrase the same way generations before did with Jimmie Walker’s “Dyn-o-mite” or Gary Coleman’s “Whatchoo Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis?” …but enough about the distinct society of Frank.

My point is Canada is made up of many peoples who—on the surface—are very different and distinct.  Yet, there is something that binds us together.  I’ve never been to St. John’s, but I relate to this Jake Doyle and all of the people in his orbit.  I can’t wait to visit there each week.  I may even have to take a trip there one of these days.  Something tells me I’ll feel…right at home. TV Gord

Gord McDougall is an award-winning radio reporter who is celebrating 20 years in his chosen profession in 2010.  He has been honoured with regional and national awards from the Radio and Television News Directors Association and has been recognized for his community involvement by Canada Blood Services, the Kidney Foundation and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.  Gord’s encyclopedic knowledge of television has also earned him the nickname, “TV Gord” (a play on TV Guide, because he is often called a walking TV Guide).  He lives in Ottawa with his collection of over 3,000 VHS tapes, 1,000 DVDs and a Christmas Cactus he calls Uncle Joe.



  1. Sorry Gord, I hate to tell you this , but ,"Whatta ya at?" is a
    Newfoundlandism that has been around since Moses and can still be heard today anywhere in NL. Including on the "Republic of Doyle" weekly. And the reason Republic comes across so natural is ..... it is. You could write dialogue for Republic just by transcribing the conversations you hear around you in a St. John's pub. That's what makes it so authentic. They allow the city to play a character, without changing it's essence, it's charm or it's wit.

    Comment by Sue — October 24, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

  2. Sue, no problem at all! You're not bursting any bubbles. I know that's a phrase that is as common as "how's it goin'?" in other parts of the country. Back when I was in college with Frank, it was the first time any of us heard it, so WE started saying it to each other (with Frank listening carefully to be sure we were doing it right)!

    RoD has indeed translated very well to the rest of us on the mainland. Whether it's Corner Gas representing the Prairies or Jake and crew representing Newfoundland, it's simultaneously foreign and familiar to the rest of the best way possible! I can't wait to check out a St. John's pub someday! I won't go looking for a fistfight, but if I find myself a part of one, I won't go home disappointed! 😉

    Comment by TV Gord — November 28, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  3. And I'll buy the first round!

    Comment by sbeaumont — November 28, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

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