REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "One Angry Jake"

I love homages to classic movies. They’re meant to honour great cinematic achievements, to prove that a film is still as relevant as the day it was released. So when I saw the title and synopsis for this week’s Republic of Doyle, I got excited. “One Angry Jake” is an homage to 12 Angry Men, the 1957 Sidney Lumet film that showed 12 jurors working through a murder case, with one of the jurors trying to corrupt the rest into giving a “guilty” verdict.

Unfortunately, this week’s Doyle started with that great idea and lost the thread in the first 10 minutes. It devolved into another tangle of secondary characters, implausible scenarios and far too much plot. It’s always a shame when good ideas go sour, but in the case of “One Angry Jake”, I’m sentencing the episode to be promptly forgotten.  

We find ourselves in the deliberation room of the courthouse, where Jake is a member of a jury considering the case of Sabrina (Kandyse McClure), suspected of murdering her husband. The jury’s foreman, Luke Shaw (Kevin Hanchard), is pushing for a guilty verdict. Jake believes the woman is innocent, and sets out to prove it by sending the rest of Doyle & Doyle Investigations out to find the evidence that will exonerate Sabrina.

Meanwhile, the episode is stuffed with side-stories involving Sabrina escaping from custody at the courthouse and Kathleen planning a mysterious trip. Contrary to what the writers must have thought, these extra storylines did nothing to flesh out the episode. They only served to make “One Angry Jake” feel like a scattershot attempt to “check in” with each series regular and guest star. It complicated the main story and offered no chance for the characters to actually develop.

But let’s deal with the 12 Angry Men “tribute” first. One of the core strengths of Lumet’s film was that the camera only leaves the deliberation room for 4 minutes of the movie’s 96 minute running time. We’re trapped in there with the characters as they debate and betray one another. Rather than stick with that compelling approach, “One Angry Jake” finds a bunch of ways to get Jake out of the room.

Not only does this eliminate the chance for tension and character development, it’s totally implausible. How are we supposed to believe that Jake can repeatedly outfox the security measures meant to keep the jury sequestered? At one point, Sabrina takes Jake out of the courthouse at gunpoint. We don’t see how she was able to escape the building - best not to worry about that, I guess. Somehow, I don’t think you can waltz out of there with a hostage in tow and go totally unnoticed.

The scenes that happen outside of the courthouse are no better. It took me forever to wrap my head around the unnecessarily confusing murder case. I still don’t fully understand who was in love with who and what the brewery and the disgruntled employee had to do with anything. I think I even heard the victim’s name change from “Todd” to “Tom” at least once.

Complicating matters was the attempted Kathleen Doyle side-story. Remember when Leslie Bennett was getting on my nerves for being a wasted character? Now Kathleen is my top pick for the “Most Annoyingly Underused Character” award.

She doesn’t seem to exist outside of the Doyle house and the Duke pub. She appears to have dozens of things she tries to hide from her family that we’ll likely never hear about.  Now the writers are ready to stow her away somewhere without ever justifying her appearance in the first place.

Just like the failed homage to 12 Angry Men, the writers' handling of Kathleen proves they're terrified to do anything that messes with their formula. What they do instead is tease us with ideas that could make real stand-out stories, and (to borrow a critque from my former editor Ryan Belbin) they sweep it all under the rug. When it comes to TV (especially episodes that reference classic movies), that’s an indictable offense if I ever saw one. “One Angry Jake” gets one and a half stars out of four.

What did you think of Episode 10 of Republic of Doyle Season 3? Like/Dislike? Were you disappointed by how Doyle handled the Lumet source material? Or did you see it as a fluffy tribute to the classic movie? Join the conversation in the comments, and catch up on the rest of my Doyle reviews here:

Ep 1: “Streets of St. Johns” | Ep 2: “Head Over Heels” | Ep 3: “Hot Package”

Ep 4: “Rusted Steele” | Ep 5: “Dead Man Talking” | Ep 6: “The Dating Game”

Ep 7: “High School Confidential” | Ep 8: “Two Jakes and a Baby” | Ep 9: "Mirror, Mirror"