The Republic of Judge David Johnson is a banana republic.
For this private detective, trouble is a way of life.
From our friends in the Great White North, comes a light-hearted mystery series set in the balmy tropics of Newfoundland. Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) and his curmudgeonly father Malachy (Sean McGinley) run a private detective agency that inevitably leads them into all manner of trial and tribulation. Thankfully, they're able to balance these life-and-death scenarios with home-cooking, paternal wit and a general low-key vibe.
The first season brings twelve episodes on three discs, following the Doyles as they engage with cases involving infidelity, blackmail, arson, kidnapping and, yes, murder. And all too often, the mayhem comes dangerously close to the Doyles' front porch, especially when Jake's shifty brother is involved.
Here we have the first of six (so far) seasons of the popular Canadian drama (or dramedy, if you will, though I've come to hate that word with the fire of a thousand nuclear reactors) and while it is indeed light-hearted and nimble, I have trouble seeing how it's different than the standard procedural one can find on CBS.
I know that came across as a pejorative, but I didn't mean it as such; it was more reflective of the slight letdown I had watching the series, expecting something up to the usual gold standard of Acorn's imports. In the end, however, Republic of Doyle is merely okay, a nimble, low-calorie series of adventures that's anchored by its charismatic leads.
Hawco is pretty great here, funny and full of energy. He's wields a deft touch with the material, nailing the tricky high-wire act of alpha bad-ass with quirky goofball. His father, Malachy, is the typical gruff dad, exasperated, straight-arrow and more than willing to knock his son down a peg. It's recognizable stuff and the Malachy character holds no surprises—but for what he is, a grouchy foil for his wise-cracking, loose cannon son.
The mysteries themselves don't explode off the screen with ingenuity but they get the job done. Their main purpose is to get Jake into assorted awkward scenarios and by that measure they succeed. Also, St. John's, Newfoundland provides a unique, picturesque setting and the locals offers solid color.
The DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, commentary on episodes 9 and 12, and a 20-minute making-of featurette.
That's it. Fans of breezy mystery series should find a good time with Republic of Doyle: Season One. Anyone looking for groundbreaking drama, adjust your expectations accordingly.
Good. Not great. But good.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
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