Monday, September 30, 2013

Republic Of Doyle Back For Season Five

As far as Canadian series go Republic Of Doyle which starts its fifth season Wednesday night on CBC is positively ancient.
It's usually a cause for celebration when a  home grown series gets to season two or three.
But this rollicking Newfoundland-based caper has kept growing in popularity by the season.
Star Allan Hawco is a sort of Newfie Orson Welles --he created the show, stars in it, picks the directors, is in on every facet of editing and for all I know makes the coffee and sandwiches.
And this time out he's armed with new credentials --the show has just been sold for syndication on U.S. TV.
I can remember the days when CBC was a true national network and agonized over making shows in every region of the country.
Remember the Montreal made Urban Angel starring Justin Louis?
Well, that was an attempt to have something in English from Montreal.
Also from Montreal there was a talk show with Alan Hamel. I remember being on the set the night Janet Leigh was the lovely co-host.
Newfoundland also contributed show after show which just did not make it.
Remember Hatching, Matching And Dispatching?
CBC tried several times to turn that sitcom into a winner but the ratings remained dismal.
And then along came Republic Of Doyle.
It wasn't an instant hit but the emphasis on true Newfie characters sort of grew on viewers and after just one season it merged as a bona fide hit.
When I talked to Hawco at the CBC fall launch he was most excited about the time change.
Last season ROD slugged it out in the trenches --Sunday nights in the roughest, toughest night of the week in terms of competition.
CBC's tag line was "Sundays Just Got More Exciting" but that wasn't the way Hawco saw it.
"CBC owes us one!" Hawco laughed and he was right. Ratings were not as high as expected  but the series survived to fight again and it's back on Wednesday nights  (at 9).
And it's also on in the fall because CBC upped the episode order to 16 new hours.
When I told Hawco season four's finale was one of the best ever I've seen in terms of cliffhangers he simply said "I think we did a lot."
Two big Canadian stars --Gordon Pinsent and Paul Gross--made time in their schedules to do it.
"Paul knew what it's like from Due South. Gordon has always been my biggest inspiration."
It was supposed to be a two part finale but CBC liked it so much the yarn ran as one big two-hour fstory and really worked.
Then there's the other business --some nit picking by critics who say the show is too centered in Newfoundland.
So to assuage those carping critics the first new show dramatically starts way south of the border and has more action and cartoon violence than I've ever seen on the show.
A new love intersst might well be emerging in a pert Latino. that's all the plot I'll give away.
Hawco gets a chance to segue into the location work back home and reintroduce characters we've grown found of at a leisurely pace.
They include father Malachy (Sean McGinley), step-ma Rose (Linda Boyd), niece Tinny (Marthe Bernard) and her dim-witted boyfriend  Des (Mark O'Brien).
I'm told one guest star this season will be Shannon Tweed who also hails from "The Rock".
And I can hardly wait.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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