Friday, November 5, 2010

What We Are Watching: Terriers

When to Watch: Wednesdays at 9 PM on FX.

The FX series Terriers has a misleading name, as it is not about dogs and it doesn't have any major canine sidekicks.  The title instead refers to show's two rough and tumble leading men- ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and his partner, ex-thief Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James).  The two run a small, unlicensed private investigation business in the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego.  The sunny, coastal vibe permeates the show right down to the catchy surf rock-inspired theme song, but the show definitely portrays a grittier side to life in Maritime California than say the O.C. (don't call it that!).  

Terriers is often compared to one of my all-time-favorite California-based detective shows, Veronica Mars.  Like VM, Terriers doesn't shy away from depicting class conflicts, especially between the very blue collar Hank and Britt and some of their more white collar clients like Robert Lindus (Christopher Cousins).  Much of the show's dark humor comes form the fast, witty banter between characters.  Hank and Britt are the two biggest culprits, but other characters like the duo's foul-mouth lawyer Maggie, or Hank's socially awkward and sarcastic sister Stephanie, get their share of laughs too.  VM and Terriers also have a noir-ish tone and mixture of stand-alone and multi-episode mysteries.

Though Terriers is essentially a male buddy show, it definitely has its share of interesting and complex female characters.  This includes Britt's girlfriend, Katie, who is studying to be a vet and seemingly the responsible one in the relationship.  But Katie also has a self-destructive side and she's attracted to Britt's darker impulses.  Hank's sister Stephanie is another example.  She is incredibly smart (graduating summa cum laude from M.I.T.), but she also suffers from a debilitating case of schizophrenia.

Another highlight of the show is the performances by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James.  Both actors are primarily known for supporting roles on bigger shows; Logue played Chuck Martin on ER and Raymond-James played Rene Lenier on everyone's favorite vampire show, True Blood .  Here they are really given a chance to shine.  About half of the lines are only funny because of Logue or Raymond-James's pitch-perfect delivery.  Both actors have really good chemistry together.  Logue's whip-smart and garrulous take on Hank Dolworth is nicely balanced by Raymond-James's laid-back and maundering performance as Britt.  On their own, Hank would be insufferable and Britt would be a bore, but together, they make an adorable pair.

I've been a fan of the show since the pilot episode, but the series seems to get more enjoyable with every episode.  Like so many good TV shows, Terriers has low ratings.  So check it out now and you can have bragging rights over all your friends who'll discover the show on DVD. 

Recommended for Fans OfVeronica Mars, The Big Lebowski, anything on the USA Network.