Sunday, November 14, 2010
TERRIERS NEEDS YOU
My favorite shows right now, all have weaknesses. Stargate Universe takes itself too seriously and has some poor acting at times. Sons of Anarchy is ridiculously melodramatic, which sometimes undercuts the reality of the narrative. Fringe has a healthy amount of goofiness and weak writing, but the strength of its core concepts and John Noble's performance redeems all of that for me. The Mentalist is mostly trite and cliche, but again, the charisma of the main characters keep me coming back. Dexter is hampered at times by trying to push the whole family aspect and there is some horrible writing now and then. Even Boardwalk Empire, while high-quality all around, just doesn't hold my interest for long stretches at a time.
Terriers, which airs on FX every Wednesday at 10:00 (EST) has no weakness to speak of, and is the most consistently excellent program on television.
Oh yeah. I said it.
But none of you bastards are watching it, so its chances of being renewed for a second season are plummeting.
There's a lot of talk about what FX did wrong. The name of the show is pretty vague and doesn't really tell you what the hell you're getting yourself into. The promotion leading up to the premiere was absolutely pointless, focusing on a little dog that isn't even a character. If you didn't hang around online, there was no way of knowing that this wasn't a show about a dog. Maybe a dog that talks, or something. Who knows? Then, a week or so before the actual premiere, they started showing the leads, Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James, they played up the comedy aspects, making the show seem like it was going to be some sort of goofy, light-hearted comedy about private detectives.
So nobody tuned in. The show had the lowest-rated premiere for a show on FX, and it's been a struggle every week to get some sort of toe-hold with viewers. The show can't seem to climb above a .2 rating, with a jump to .3 two weeks ago being something to brag about. As a point of reference, another cable show, the train wreck that is The Real Housewives of Atlanta scored a 1.4 this past week.
Here's what the damned show is about, okay? Donal Logue plays Hank Dolworth, a recovering alcoholic ex-cop and Michael Raymond-James plays Britt Pollack, a lovable ex-thief. Together they are unlicensed private eyes in the mythical community of Ocean Beach, CA. Hank's ex-wife, Gretchen (played by Kimberly Quinn) is getting married to a guy she met six months earlier on the Internet. Britt's girlfriend, Katie Nichols (played by Laura Allen) is in veterinary school and is looking forward to getting married sometime sooner rather than later. Hank's sister Steph (Karina Logue) is a brilliant schizophrenic who pops up shortly after the series gets rolling. Hanks ex-partner, Detective Mark Gustafson (Rockmond Dunbar), loves busting Hank's balls, but is ultimately there when Hank needs him - which is often.
Because, you see, at the beginning of the series Hank and Britt stumble across a shady land deal and in the course of the investigation one of Hank's old drinking buddies is murdered. But it's made to look like a heroin overdose, so the police don't go looking into it. Over the course of the first few episodes, we find out what's going on with the real estate deal, who's really behind it all, and just how big and serious and outclassed our heroes really are.
Every single episode of this show is meticulously crafted. The dialogue is some of the smartest on television. Logue as Hank is sarcastic and funny, always just a little smarter than everyone else in the room, whether it's actual book-learning or street smarts. Raymond-James a Britt is charming and funny, in a coarser, slightly vulgar way more often than not, and brings a child-like enthusiasm to every scene. Hank was a great cop, but drinking undermined his career, so now, he's a pretty great P.I. Britt was a great thief, but falling in love with Katie saved him from a life of crime, although he's not averse to using his mad skills to help solve a case.
While each episode is (usually) centered on a single job, every episode moves the over-arching plot forward, and with only three episodes left, things are starting to come to a head. The players that our heroes have found themselves going up against represent big money and are some of the most powerful members of Ocean Beach's upper class. And right now, both of our heroes are at their most vulnerable, lowest points.