REVIEW: Republic of Doyle - "Live Wire"

I try to go into episodes of Republic of Doyle as open-minded as I can. Even when a previous episode let me down, I hope that the show can power through it and make me a least laugh a bit about my old home province. Even so, I started watching this week’s episode “Live Wire” knowing that I’d probably end up with mixed feelings.

And I was right. “Live Wire” had some really good material. We saw Des Courtney being refreshingly serious as he explored his relationship with his father. There were some genuinely funny scenes with Des’ father Jody showing all the eccentric traits as his son. But the episode was bogged down by the same problem that has crippled too many episodes of the show - fragmentary side stories. Just when a story thread is getting good, we “check in” with someone like Kathleen Doyle, and it kills the energy.

First, a bit of plot synopsis. Des’ father is out of prison and wants to reconnect with his son. Des is fairly open to the idea, though he feels awkward about it. Just when the two are re-introduced, Jody (Michael Healey) is kidnapped by his former partner, and Des launches into a full-scale investigation to get his father back.

Of course, this interesting idea is accompanied by two side-stories. Firstly, Malachy’s old partner turns up dead, and Leslie wants to get to the bottom of it, even though Malachy’s being mysteriously unhelpful. Secondly, yet another of Kathleen’s ex-boyfriends turns up, demanding a shady business ledger that Kathleen’s been hiding.

The first of these side-stories actually did an acceptable job of tying in with the main case. The “ghosts from the past” angle distracted Malachy from the kidnapping of Des’ father, and I bought it. What got under my skin was the Kathleen story, which once again failed to develop her character. She’s yet to venture beyond the Doyle house or the pub in the world of the show, and as a result, her character is stale.

It’s like there’s a machine that churns out “ex-boyfriends with money troubles” to appear in the Doyle house and threaten her. The tactic was especially annoying in “Live Wire” because the actor Graham Abbey, who played the ex-boyfriend, was actually suitably creepy. It’s too bad they couldn’t have used him for a villain role that actually matters.

I won’t even get into how implausible it is that the Doyles would still be leaving their doors unlocked after all the times people waltz in and act menacing. I’m at the point now where I wish one of these goons would just bump Kathleen off, if only to inspire a super-dramatic finale episode.

What saved this episode was the main narrative about Des’ father. Jody seemed well-defined for a character we’re meeting for the first time. Credit goes to actor Michael Healey for not hammering us over the head with the similarities between father and son. The quirky behaviours are there, and we laugh at them, but I didn’t feel like the writers were suggesting, “Hey! Look! Like father, like son, get it?!”.

As refreshing as it was to see Mark O’Brien try out some more serious scenes as Des, I think that side of him still needs some work. A few of Des’ scenes were ungainly, especially that bit when Des knocked over the cup of pens. It seemed like the director was trying to make that part into a hybrid of "funny Des being clumsy" and "serious Des being worried". With some more episodes featuring “serious Des”, that version of the character might mellow into someone we really respect.

For its decidedly mixed bag of entertaining new characters (I’m counting “serious Des” here) and annoying side-stories, “Live Wire” gets two and a half stars out of four.

What did you think of Episode 11 of Republic of Doyle Season 3? Like/Dislike? Do you wish Kathleen Doyle would be killed off? Would you like to see Des’ dad pop up again? Join the conversation in the comments section below. If you’d like to catch up on the rest of my Republic of Doyle reviews, browse through the links below:


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” | Ep.10: "One Angry Jake"