"Uncle Jake punched the mayor and a couple of other things happened. But they got on all right." - Tinny, played by Marthe Bernard, in the Republic of Doyle episode "Don't Gamble With City Hall" that aired this week. One of the best plot summations ever, no?
We watch Republic of Doyle every week, and I'm delighted to know the second season that's winding down will be followed next year by a third.
One of the things that's always intrigued me is the use of aerial shots of St. John's. When I worked in television, I became infatuated with aerial shots: they elevate a piece simply because of their existence. (We got quite the deal on a chopper while we were making a Land & Sea episode at Gros Morne National Park, and the shots made it so easy to tell the story of the park's geology.)
Republic of Doyle makes amazing use of aerial shots, all over the St. John's area. I've made screengrabs here and there, and here are a few.
Here's one from the very first episode, showing the downtown as shot through the Narrows. This must have been a bit of a trick - and not just because it's such a sunny day - but because Parks Canada (as I recall, anyway) has rules about shooting low near Signal Hill.
In the opening seconds, you also get this shot, which I kept looking at, trying to figure out quite where it was:
I originally thought this was the convergence of Duckworth Street and Queens Road, but realized this couldn't be the case. It took a minute, but I realized the street on the left is Henry Street, the blue building on the left is my old workplace (the now-deserted CBC Radio headquarters), and Queen's Road is there on the right.
I also spotted this one from the debut episode, which shows Cabot Tower off pretty well (as well as the viewing deck on the roof).
Several weeks ago, when the sheen on Republic of Doyle was still fresh, a Toronto-based friend of mine and I were exchanging emails, and she wondered whether St. John’s was genuinely like what the show depicted. She’s never been here before, poor duck, and was intrigued with what she saw.
I told her there are wonderfully colourful houses (but not quite the intensely saturated hues in the opening and in some scenes), that the sun does indeed shine in the sky (although not with the apparent frequency that it does in the program) and that, happiest of all, there really is a Duke of Duckworth (although it’s much more comfy and lived-in than the replica built for a set).
Republic of Doyle The official program area on the CBC site is the place to go to see episodes you might have missed, or revel in the dialogue that seems to spin off catchphrases each week. A head’s up: the site is geocached, which is a fancy way of saying that users outside Canada probably won’t be able to watch.
Take a look around the site for special ‘webisodes,’ including a recent one called Graffiti Moron, which features Mark O’Brien’s scampish character, Des. If you’re trying to place some of the songs heard in the show, click on the Music tab; it has credits to a mix of artists, including local favourites like Bill Brennan, Joe Belly and, of course, Sean Panting (who does double duty, playing Jake’s randy lawyer). Meanwhile, if you’d like to download full Doyle episodes to keep, look for the iTunes link on the landing page. I signed up for the season pass.
DoyleMaps It didn’t take long for fans to respond to the show. I like the premise of this site, set up by Jon D. Rowe, which mashes up plot points from episodes with Google Maps. In other words, you can see where specific scenes were set (and, when outdoors, actually shot).
#doyletweets The above is the hashtag for a lively conversation that pops up online during each broadcast, via Twitter. A hashtag, for the unitiated, is a type of keyword helps Twitter users track what’s being said. In this case, they’re reactions and comments on each episode, in real time. Plugging it into search.twitter.com will get you there fast on Wednesday nights.
Doyle on Facebook With 40,000 fans and counting, the official Facebook page is the pre-eminent gathering place online. I might have expected a bit more dialogue among the fans, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case … at least so far. In any event, it’s a great way to connect, and to keep up with the latest.
Doyle on Twitter The show’s Twitter feed, though, has been much more informal – and informative, to boot. And, given the conversations that have sprung up, it’s also been pretty interactive with the fan base, showcasing a tone that’s funny and a little cheeky. Wonder where they got that …
Elsewhere this week
Sushi Cat It’s not Pac-Man, but it does feature an omnivorous creature that moves around the screen, gobbling up what it can. The catch is that you position your kitty over a pile of food, and let physics, or at least the physics in the game, run its course.
Home Sheep Home We’re big fans, in our house, of Shaun the Sheep, the animated little animal and his barnyard fans, as produced by the stop-motion geniuses behind Wallace and Gromit. This is a game that rewards problem-solving, as your job is to get the sheep (usually three of them) from one place to the next, including across the odd chasm. It’s very clever.
Television Tunes Decades after I saw them, I can still recognize the themes of plenty of old TV shows, including plenty I’d be happy to forget. (Thank you, Love Boat.) This site celebrates theme songs, and collects them as well. If you like what you hear, get it emailed to your phone as a ringtone.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and works with CBC News. John is on Twitter right here.
This is such a great idea. DoyleMaps, a project of Jon Rowe, is using Google Maps to identify spots where scenes in each episode of Republic of Doyle are set. As with such maps, you're welcome to add your own notes.
My wife and I laughed out loud during last night's Republic of Doyle episode (about rum-running, with a fine spot by Gordon Pinsent). The exchange came after Mark O'Brien's Des got into a mini-racket with PI Jake while viewing pictures of Jake's ex and her new flame:
Malachy: What's with him? Jake: Nothing. He's from Gander.
The line seemed to have some water-cooler traction today, enough for the Republic of Doyle Facebook fan page to pass along a comment from Allan Hawco: "Thanks for all the love b'ys and girls. Much appreciated!! And FYI I loves Gander."
As a bonus, here's a screengrab of my favourite visual joke from last night, which came a few good minutes after a bit of exposition about St-Pierre. Malachy gave exactly these co-ordinates:
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.