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October 31, 2014

Talking 'Terriers' with Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James

by Maureen Ryan, posted Oct 20th 2010 5:30PM
When a show isn't doing well in the ratings, it's not unusual for the actors involved to tout their programs on Twitter or do interviews to drum up interest.

Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James have taken advocacy for their series to a whole new level. The actors are crisscrossing the country in a tour bus, going to county fairs, football games and college campuses to draw attention to their terrific but ratings-challenged FX drama, 'Terriers' (10PM ET Wednesday, FX).

I'd say they were dogged in their advocacy for the show, but I have a feeling that would be the wrong choice of words.

"We hurt ourselves by having a bad title. The title alienates a lot of people we've run into on the tour, and they've expressed it frankly, which is cool," Logue said in an interview that he and Raymond-James gave before a Chicago-area appearance on Tuesday. "In our dangerous moments, in our emotionally poignant moments, it's not different from [FX's biggest hit,] 'Sons of Anarchy.' ['Terriers'] is operating in similar emotional quicksand."

Spending an hour with Logue and Raymond-James isn't unlike watching an episode of 'Terriers,' which follows best friends Hank Dolworth and Britt Pollack as they investigate crimes large and small in a funky beach town. The actors, who lived together in the San Diego area during the filming of the show, are as close as their characters; they finish each others' sentences and clearly enjoy each others' company.

Asked how their friendship differs from the bond shared by ex-cop Hank and ex-thief Britt, they just grinned.

"There's not an iota of difference," Logue said.

"Hank and Britt have had a couple of flareups or fights, but I don't think that we have had anything like that -- which isn't to say we won't," Raymond-James added with a laugh.

They're both justifiably proud of the work they've done on 'Terriers,' which combines character drama and a twisty, evocative film noir feel in a fresh and compelling way. But the actors are both quick to recognize that the complicated, emotionally nuanced episodes airing now are tonally different than the 'Terriers' pilot, which had a breezier vibe and might have given people the wrong impression of of what the show's about.

"'I get what this show's about -- It's kind of like "The Good Guys,"' Logue said, recounting the kind of reactions he's heard. "For the last three months, all I've been doing is holding people and breaking down. It feels so deep and poignant and real and hard to me. I've never burst into tears in scenes in anything I've ever done. Then it's portrayed as this goofball thing and on Hulu, it's [categorized as] a comedy and I'm like, 'What the [expletive]?' It drives me bonkers."

Both actors hasten to add that they're glad to be on FX, which gave executive producers Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan the opportunity to come up with this intriguing, witty hybrid and will give the show a full 13-episode run in the hopes that it will find a bigger audience. The thing is, the actors had such a great experience making the show that they can't face the idea of not playing Britt and Hank again.

"I personally feel we left blood on the sand making this friggin' thing," said Logue, who had to live with a painful shoulder injury during the making of the show's first season (if he'd had it operated on before the season began, it would have delayed the entire production). "I use this example I'm kind of embarrassed about and horrified by, but I feel like Bryan Cranston coming out of 'Malcolm in the Middle'-land, and being handed something so fantastic, and then they say, 'Dude, it's not called "Breaking Bad." It's called "Chihuahua Man."' And here's the mascot. And you're like, 'Wait a second!'"

The show's marketing images and videos did indeed heavily feature an adorable canine, and that, combined with the name, may have left potential viewers with the impression that the show migrated from Animal Planet. Hence the actors' barnstorming tour, which has taken them from a state fair in Tulsa to a number of college campuses to the Michigan-Iowa game. That was a high point for Raymond-James, an obsessed Michigan fan. (For the most complete information on where the duo will be next, follow Logue's Twitter feed and Facebook page.)

"Despite Neilsen [ratings], people in Oklahoma and Texas and Louisiana watch 'Terriers,'" Logue said. "It's weird, they know it, they're passionate about it."

The questions at their college appearances have touched on everything from how they got started in acting to why Raymond-James didn't do more shirtless scenes on 'True Blood.' The actors said they always stay until every question is answered, and despite the occasional hassles of life on the road, they appeared to be energized by their interactions with viewers.

"If the promotional side of it benefits the show, that's great. The human side ... it sounds incredibly hokey, but the ethos is, how do you best serve the thing you're doing?" Logue said. "We can say 'This is what we do,' as opposed to 'Here's a big janky movie that I did.' Sometimes you're sort of compromised in these situations but they're fun jobs. [With 'Terriers,'] we stand by what we did here more than anything we've ever done."

Here are a few more details for 'Terriers' fans on what's coming up next:

* Logue said in Wednesday's episode, his sister, Karina Logue, who plays Hank's sister Steph, "will make you cry." I'm personally eager to see the episode; Steph has been a great addition to the show.

* Toward the end of the season, Hank will make get a bit further in his quest to get over his ex-wife, and Britt's "forced march toward maturity," as Raymond-James calls it, will also progress. Britt will eventually find out about what his girlfriend Katie did, and "there's a response to that."

* Both actors are especially fond of Episode 11, which was written by 'Terriers' executive producer (and Joss Whedon-verse veteran) Tim Minear. Raymond-James called the episode, which will flash back to how Britt and Hank met and revisit Hank's work and personal problems, his favorite of the season.

[Logue makes some not-very-specific statements about the end of the season next, but check out now if you don't want to know anything about that.]

* The overarching story story about a crooked property development will come back into the foreground later in the season, and that set of episodes will introduce a local news blogger. "She's a really good journalist but [Det. Mark Gustafson, Hank's former partner] tries to dismiss her -- 'Oh, you blog, you tweet,'" Logue said. "She helps us try to uncover the deeper conspiracy and it gets more dangerous. It's a threat to our relationship in a way -- Britt is like, rightfully, 'What's happening in our world?'"

* "I guarantee, if we come back [with a second season], you're going to join us down the road," Logue said. "There's going to be a gap in time. Not a big gap, but enough for some substantial changes to have occurred or for circumstances to have locked in that are pretty hard."

FYI, for an interview with 'Terriers' creator Shawn Ryan on the 'Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan' podcast, look here. Here's my original review of 'Terriers,' and Ryan McGee's recent list of five reasons you should be watching the show.


Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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19 Comments

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JeaneyBeaney

I have inquired about Donal Logue but I also wanted to know about Michael Raymond James....Will he be back on one of the shows? I liked him on True Blood and Terriers and he is very versatile as well and Donal Logue...James is very enjoyable to watch. Jeanie

June 13 2011 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
josef

This show is easily my favorite new show of the season. Kind of mixes Rockford Files with Veronica Mars and adds in some detective noir for seasoning. How do we ensure a second season?

October 30 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
OceanBeachMayor

Get on board, fans:
http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/SaveTERRIERS

October 29 2010 at 9:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JohnV

Sometimes I wonder what drugs people are taking when they come up with names of TV shows or movies. I mean, really, "Terriers"? Thankfully, I looked beyond the title when I watched the first episode and was hooked. Donal Logue is such a good actor and his sis really makes the show even better.

I hope they give it a 2nd season, like another poster said, this and "mad Men" are the top two cable series IMO. Make that three, have to put "Burn Notice" in that category as well.

October 24 2010 at 1:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anna

This show is the best, most smartly written show on the air, hands down. Nothing on right now comes close! I never cry at TV and Steph had me breaking down last night.

October 22 2010 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Payal

SUCH a fantastic show! Easily the best thing to come out of this season. Thanks for writing about it, Maureen.

October 22 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

God I love this show. I'm actually enjoying it more than either Sons of Anarchy or Boardwalk Empire right now. I really hope Terriers catches on so we can have a second season.

October 22 2010 at 11:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
noraf

Love, love, love this show...Probably the best new show of the season (even better than Boardwalk Empire). I have to think ratings wise, that it probably gets the same ratings that Sons of Anarchy did first season and that is FX's best drama right now (even though I don't watch it). I am hoping that FX sticks it out.

Also, this show gets better as the season goes on. The episode regarding Hank and mortgage broker was amazing.

October 21 2010 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AmyD

My husband and I are both hooked on this show. We love Donal Logue. But, the original ad campaign for Terriers did portray it as a bit of a "Rockford Files" type comedy which I think was misleading. Once we really figured out what was going on we were all in!

I do think the title is unfortunate... I still don't really see how it relates to the show at all and I really hope they can overcome that because we'd be disappointed if it didn't make it to a second season.

October 21 2010 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nova

Love this show.

Cable is by far out doing network TV for the past couple years and they are only getting better. With the advent of services like hulu, people can catch up on the show and not even need access to cable.

Horrible that they got an awful title dumped on the show. Most people just won't give it a chance I feel, based on title alone. It really needs to be renewed for another season based on quality alone. How about a title change for the second season, it can't be that hard to pull off.

October 21 2010 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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