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October 9, 2015

'Terriers' Is the Best New Show of 2010: Why You Should Be Watching

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 17th 2010 10:30AM
Lately I've heard from readers and friends who gave 'Terriers' a try but gave up on it after an episode or three.

Go back to the show (which airs at 10PM ET Wednesdays on FX), and please, give it another shot. This complicated, very enjoyable private-detective drama is that good. It's great, in fact.

I still have a great deal of respect for 'Boardwalk Empire,' an excellent drama that I thought would emerge as the best new program of 2010. Don't get me wrong, 'Boardwalk Empire' will definitely be on my year-end Top 10 list. But I care about the characters on 'Terriers' in a whole different way. It's the best new show of 2010. If this 'Terriers' goes away, which it might, thanks to low ratings, it'll be a very bad day for quality television.

So here are five suggestions on how FX might alter the show in order to goose the ratings for a second season (which I very much want):

1. Just add zombies. Duh.

2. Rename it 'CSI: Ocean Beach' and make the hilarious nerds that help private detective Hank Dolworth into white-jacketed lab techs.

3. Add an adorable kid and rename it 'Two and a Half Terriers' (but please, for the love of God, don't let Charlie Sheen anywhere near this).

4. Just add vampires. Oh, and lots of werewolves having sex in the woods. Just from a storytelling standpoint, that would make a ton of sense.

5. What if Hank and his partner, Britt, were to frequently break into song? How awesome would that be?

OK, I'm kidding. I don't want anything about 'Terriers' to change. There are a lot of shows out there with flaws or problems that are easy to enumerate, but I can't think of anything I'd alter about the show (aside from its name, but it's too late to fix that now).

'Terriers' did have some issues, as they say, but only one of them was manifest in the show itself: The pilot didn't do a great job of showing how dramatically compelling the show could be (and that's not the end of the world -- many shows need a few episodes or entire seasons to find themselves). Also, it obviously has a terrible name that doesn't tell people what the show is about, and the marketing campaign confused people further (it is not a show about dogs).

'Terriers' also a bit of a hybrid -- it's a very smart yet very laid-back buddy comedy and also a detective story that draws on the best of noir film and fiction. That offbeat combination may have put some people off at first, but that hybrid quality is far from being a flaw. Now that 'Terriers' has settled into a rhythm of telling terrific weekly stories and unfolding a bigger, season-long plot, it's become not just a showcase for thoughtful storytelling but for great performances from Donal Logue as Hank, Michael Raymond-James as Britt, Laura Allen as Katie, Jamie Denbo as Maggie, Karina Logue as Hank's sister Steph and Rockmond Dunbar as Hank's former partner, Mark.

What's most impressive is how fluid and natural the world of 'Terriers' is: Hank, Britt and their friends and loved ones seem very real, complicated and human. They're full of believable flaws and yet their plights are intriguing and emotionally compelling. It's very rare to come across a show that is well plotted, well acted and has a deep, compassionate view of human nature. 'Terriers' has all that and a deft sense of humor too.

It very much feels as though executive producer Shawn Ryan and executive producer/creator Ted Griffin are just getting started telling stories about these people and about the scruffy, memorable community of Ocean Beach. If the show's writers and actors don't get a chance to explore this distinctive world more fully in a second season, that would be an enormous disappointment. I was prepared to let go of 'Rubicon,' which had terrific characters but a flawed ending. I'm not at all prepared to let go of 'Terriers,' and I urge you very strongly to get back on board with this show. Yes, you can drop in this week without any trouble, even if you haven't been watching lately.

Tonight's episode is a flashback to a dark time in Hank Dolworth's life, and Donal Logue does a masterful job of playing the former cop's obsessions and regrets, past and present. The episode was written by 'Firefly'/'Angel'/'Dollhouse' veteran Tim Minear, a 'Terriers' executive producer, and it's a fascinating, surprising character study that will draw you in even if you've never seen the show before.

Critic Alan Sepinwall wrote a terrific piece on why 'Terriers' is worth saving, and I agree 100 percent with what he wrote. I urge you to give 'Terriers' another try and if you like or love the show, email FX at user@fxnetworks.com to tell the network how much you want it to come back. Take to Twitter and Facebook and blogs to tell the world how good this show is. Download episodes from iTunes, rent a skywriting plane if you care to. Spread the word, that's all I'm saying.

Like terriers, let's not give up.

For my original review of 'Terriers,' look here. An interview with Logue and Raymond-James is here. A podcast interview with co-creator Shawn Ryan is here. A piece by Ryan McGee on why the show is so great is here.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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I like both shows but Terriers is just a lot more involving than Boardwalk Empire is. I feel sucked into the story instead of watching a story. Please let there be a season 2!!

November 30 2010 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually watch this one live, commercials and all. And I never watch commercials. Sent the email. Long Live Terriers

November 22 2010 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've sent off my email and I'm trying to spread the word as well.

I've watched from the beginning and the pilot, while not stellar was enough to hook me. I checked it out after reading some good reviews prior to the premiere. I don't get HBO so haven't checked out Boardwalk Empire yet so my top 3 new shows of the year are Terriers, The Walking Dead and Justified

November 19 2010 at 11:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought last night's episode of Terriers was amazing! I love the fact that the characters on the show are flawed. It makes the show more interesting. Britt's my favorite character on the show. Two of my favorite parts include: the exchange between Britt and Gavin (Britt gave him a major beat-down) and when Britt ended his engagement to Katie and took both the ring and Winston back. lol. There better be another season of Terriers. Shows like this need to be on tv more.


November 18 2010 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Terriers IS the best show of 2010! No lie: I'd never heard of the show and was flipping through the channels one night when I came across the episode "Ring a Ding Ding." I got sucked in right away. Then, I went to Hulu after the show and pulled up all of the episodes I'd missed to that point. I was hooked. I stayed up ALL NIGHT watching one episode after the next. I just couldn't stop watching!

Terriers is first-rate must watch TV for me. I can't wait for each new episode. I really want this show to live. The characters are amazingly written and incredibly believable. I LOVE ALL THE CHARACTERS!Donal Logue, Michael Raymond James, and the rest of the crew are stunning in this show: this is Emmy-caliber acting and writing! And the stories have that gritty everyman detective show quality that takes me back to great series like The Rockford Files.

I even got chills tonight watching that last flashback scene where Hank pops Britt from jail and the first hints of their partnership/friendship are gleaned.

I was dealt a horrible blow this week when I heard that another amazing show, "Rubicon", had been axed. I really hope "Terriers" does not join this club!

November 18 2010 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Terriers is a fantastic show despite the okay premiere. It's also terrifically funny without being a comedy.

November 17 2010 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

TERRIERS is, hands down, the best new show of the season. I hope FX execs will give viewers who missed it the first time around an opportunity to catch it on DVD before cancelling it outright. After all, hardly anyone actually watched MAD MEN on live broadcast its first season, and it's doing pretty well now!

November 17 2010 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My only complaint has been the infidelity storyline--it really brought down the dynamic of the show. Otherwise, I think Terriers picks up where the enormously underrated and prematurely canceled Life left off in terms of plotlines and character exploration.

November 17 2010 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sent my email!

"Thank you for taking a chance on a small, quirky show like Terriers. You have pretty damn good taste, for a network executive! :)
I know you can't pay your bills with great product unless that great product actually SELLS, but I will do my best to get the word-of-mouth advertising kicked up a notch.
Please hang in there - and if you decide to give it a second season, get the word of that out as quickly as possible, so potential viewers on the fence about it won't be afraid to give it a shot.
And listen - art for art's own sake has its place in the world too. Sure, you don't get to be famous for it until after you're dead and it's too late to help you; Sure you don't get to be rich for it (all the money goes to the guy who snatched up the rerun rights before the original went off the air) - but you get to be that guy who MADE IT HAPPEN. Get yourself a little artistic glory and satisfaction from keeping Terriers on the air. You can always make up the revenue on "Celebrity Projectile Vomiting" or some crap like that, and in the meantime, you get to keep your soul."

I hope it helps. I doubt it will, but I hope.

November 17 2010 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacey Kade

I'm really hoping Terriers gets another season. In my opinion, it's one of the smartest shows on television. Excellent writing and acting. I often find myself playing back the little exchanges between Britt and Hank because they make me laugh!(i.e. "You got served." "No, it's you've been served. It's a restraining order, not an urban dance competition." ) I look forward to it all week. :)

And I said as much in my email to FX.

November 17 2010 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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