Sunday, November 14, 2010


I watch a lot of TV, as anyone who knows me can attest to (or anyone who's been keeping up with this blog will know).  When I like a show, I tend to support it through thick and thin.  When there are weak episodes, I don't pile on, or start looking elsewhere for a new fix, because I understand that the process of making a television series involves so many variables that it's amazing anything good ever makes it to the screen.

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.

Things have gotten so bad that Logue and Raymond-James recently completed an Eastern U.S. road trip in a bus that serves as a moving billboard, to promote the show by visiting college campuses and hosting screenings and Q&A sessions.  And now there are only three more episodes.

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.

And that's just the story arc for the first 2/3 of the season.  Each episode is set up as a stand-alone adventure as the boys take on any and all jobs that come their way, whether it's following a wife suspected of cheating, or trying to get a teenager's money back from the tranny prostitute who skipped out with it.  Both Hank's and Britt's pasts come back to haunt them, and both of their relationships with the women in their lives are put through the wringer.

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.
Terriers is the funniest, fastest-paced, most action-packed, emotional, relateable, intelligent, well-written, well-acted, well-directed show on television, hands down.  You're doing yourself, and the show, a disservice by not watching.  If you liked Justified, maybe the only other show on television that rivals this one for overall consistent quality, then you should be watching Terriers.


  1. Excellent commentary. Terriers is a great show with a great plot and plot twists. I DVR it every Tuesday with SOA. I'm a show behind, I think, but it's up there with Sons. I agree the PR wasn't up to snuff but it was enough to get myself and my husband to watch. Here's to hoping they get picked up again.../fingerscrossed

  2. I don't think it's showing here yet, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

  3. @Theresa Thanks! I'm typing this with my fingers crossed, too! Bloody difficult.

    @Kelvin It's an FX show over here, if that helps spot it.

  4. Great article Paul! I also love this show and I am also pissed that it isn't getting any viewers. But isn't that how it usually goes for the more intelligent and well-acted shows? All of the characters in Terriers - and especially the main guys - are phenomenal; where does Shawn Ryan find these folks? Well, guess I better get my pre-order in at Amazon for the DVD in case that's all I have left to savor after this season. If FX drops Terriers it will be a shame, for the cast and also for we who love the show.



  5. It's an FX show over here, if that helps spot it.
    Alas, it does not, as there seems to be little correlation between our channels and yours; The Walking Dead is on AMC over there and FX here, for example.

    It will probably turn up on one of the obscure cable channels, but it's difficult to keep track of them.

  6. Agree wholeheartedly! But I've never understood all the hub-bub about the title. From the beginning, I thought it referred to Hank and Brit being tenacious, energetic and not stopping until their mission is complete. Like Terriers.

  7. A thousand times yes. This show needs to stay on for years to come. I'm also a fan of Sons of Anarchy, but I think Terriers is better than this season of SoA.