Two crime series: One good, one standard



Republic of Doyle -- From Acorn Media comes "Republic of Doyle, Season 1," a crime series that has at least some originality. First of all, it takes place in Newfoundland (accent on the "land," if you please) and the locale now and then actually affects the plot. Then again, there is a good deal of humor that makes the really familiar plots much easier to take.

The device here is a father and son private detective team. The son Jake Doyle (Allan Hawco) and father Malachy (Sean McGinley) seldom see eye to eye about how to conduct a case. In one episode, the two make a bet that Jake can’t get through one day without being punched in the face. To win the bet, the father does it for him. Cute.

The secondary female characters are actually interesting in themselves. Rose (Lynda Boyd) is an attractive redhead who is Malachy’s significant other. Detective Leslie Bennet (Krystin Pellerin) is an attractive blonde who reluctantly falls for Jake’s charms. Nikki (Rachel Wilson) begins the series by getting divorced from Jake but finds she cannot keep away from him. Her being a cartoon character is avoided by her being a competent doctor.

The secondary characters are well played, if a bit clichéd. Christian (Jonathan Goad) is Jake’s ne’er-do-well brother, who shows up late in the series. Martin Poole (Nicholas Campbell) shows up halfway through, but I won’t spoil things by telling how he spoils things. Niece Tinny (Marthe Bernard) and young assistant Des (Mark O’Brien) are merely stock characters found in this sort of detective show.

Each of the 12 episodes runs 45 minutes and there are subtitles. A 19-minute "making of" bonus is of some mild interest.

Jack Irish 2 -- When I reviewed "Jack Irish, Set 1," I wrote that I found it utterly unoriginal. The main character, as played by Guy Pearce, is without charm or the faintest sense of humor. He also has one of these recently obligatory half beards that are never shaven and never grow. And while the stories take place in Melbourne, Australia, they could have taken place in any large city in Europe or England.

Set 2, released on the Acorn Media label, contains only one 87-minute story, and nothing in it makes me change my mind. "Dead Point" is all about drugs, homosexuality, missing persons and people in high places being blackmailed to prevent them from exposing certain evildoers. And of course add in characters who are not what they seem to be.

Mind you, the show is not really bad. It is just so generic that one gets that "been there, saw this" feeling. And the not-at-all needed sex scenes are obviously thrown in for their own sake. But Irish does come up with a novel way of stopping a helicopter from lifting off.

Perhaps the source books by Peter Temple make better reading than the video adaptation makes viewing. Still, many viewers might strongly disagree with me.

The picture is in 16:9 widescreen and there are very helpful subtitles.

Verdi Paraphrases -- Even those who love a fully staged opera -- or a complete recording of an opera or just vocal excerpts from opera -- appreciate "opera without words." That is, merely music, which in the case of scores by Mozart, Verdi and Puccini can be enchanting indeed.

Well, there is an Italian CD on the Tactus label that will please many. It is titled "Parafrasi Verdiane per du d’arpe" or "Verdi paraphrases for two harps." Here harpists Alice Caradente and Alessandra Ziveri play three suites from "Ernani" and one each from "Luisa Miller" and "Rigoletto." Those familiar with the scores will appreciate this program all the more, while others will just let the lovely melodies sink in without any thought of the lyrics, played by the loveliest of instruments.

The running time of the disc is 65:09 minutes and I would like to hear from any of my readers who play the harp by way of comment on the playing. I find it most satisfying.

Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts & Entertainment section.


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