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October 8, 2015

'Terriers' Canceled by FX (Update: FX President John Landgraf Speaks)

by Maureen Ryan, posted Dec 6th 2010 6:11PM
Being pretty sure a heartbreak is headed your way doesn't make it any easier to bear when it happens.

'Terriers' has been canceled by FX, the network announced this morning. It's not surprising but it's immensely sad nonetheless.

If I was being true to myself, this post would be filled with nothing but profane interjections and elaborate curse words. In the name of decorum, not to mention keeping my job, I'm going to try to restrain myself. But this is one of those times that TV really kicks you in the stomach.

Before it ended, I wrote a few pieces (here, here and here, among others) about how sensational this show became as it figured out what it did well and then proceeded to up it several notches from there.

But right now, I want to do what Britt did to the guy he thought Katie cheated with. I want to punch something. I want to drink excessively. I want to sigh and swear for a very long time.

I'm sorry this show didn't go the distance. It eminently deserved another season, but, as hard as this is to say, I can see the financial reasons why the network made the decision that it did.

I just thought that, given that FX's brand stands for quality and risk-taking, that the network would give 'Terriers' one more season to show the world how many wonderful qualities it had.

There's a press phone conference in a few minutes with John Landgraf, president and general manage of FX. When that's over, I'll append a few quotes from him here on why the decision was made to cancel this show.

But rational explanations won't make me feel any less heartsick about this. Damn.

Damn, damn, damn.

Here is a condensed, bullet-point list of some of what Landgraf discussed in a 35-minute conference call with the media on Monday. (By the way, I also recommend this post-mortem interview that Alan Sepinwall conducted with 'Terriers' creator Ted Griffin.)

• Landgraf took issue with the idea that the show's name or marketing had anything to do with its poor ratings. He said that the billboards featuring the dog (and not the show's stars) were only seen by residents of New York and the west side of Los Angeles. Clips that aired on TV were the promotional efforts that were seen by far more of the show's potential audience, Landgraf said. And to make sure that those were not the issue (because if the promotion had been confusing, that could have been a reason to bring the show back), he commissioned market research a few weeks after the show began airing.

• In the course of that research, which was done among 600 adults (200 of whom could be considered regular FX viewers), viewers were shown the 'Terriers' promos, then the show's pilot, then the promos again. They were asked if the promos spots advertising the show provided an accurate representation of 'Terriers,' and the research indicates that viewers thought that the promos indicated the show's content and tone well.

• So, according to Landgraf, most people saw promotional materials that explained what 'Terriers' was. "For reasons that are harder to explain, they just didn't watch the show."

• If he could have changed one thing, he said he might have wished the name was 'Terriers: P.I.' But he said he also didn't think the show's name was the barrier to its success.

• The research also revealed that people thought the show wasn't quite similar to other FX shows; the perception was that it wasn't quite as "edgy, sexy, suspenseful." As Landgraf noted, the "things that really worked about the show tended to be really subtle.... And I don't think subtlety is something the American public is buying in droves today."

• He noted later that "FX has had a lot of shows on the air that are very good shows, like 'The Shield' and 'Rescue Me' and 'Nip/Tuck' and 'Sons of Anarchy' -- they have layers of subtlety but they're not, on the surface of them, particularly subtle shows. On the other hand, we've also done relatively well with 'Justified,' which I think is a relatively subtle show. I guess I would say, one of the challenges of 'Terriers' is that a buddy detective show is something people have seen a lot of, so you have to convince people that this one's worth watching, because, like 'The Rockford Files,' it's better than the other ones," he noted. "That's a hard thing to convince people of," and, as he pointed out, viewers have many other options when it comes to detective shows.

• When it came to the ratings for 'Terriers,' Landgraf said they were just so bad that a relaunch wasn't a realistic option (especially given that, in the network's view, the original marketing of the show wasn't the problem). In the show's primary airing on Wednesdays, it was getting 509,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic. By comparison, in their first seasons, 'Dirt' got 1.6 million in the same demographic, 'The Riches' got 1.4 million and 'Damages' got 1.1 million.

• Over multiple airings, 'Terriers' was picking up a total of 1.6 million viewers, while 'Dirt' got 3.7 million and 'Damages' got 2.4 million. Essentially, 'Terriers' could have doubled or tripled its ratings and still been too low-rated by FX's standards (or any network's standards, really).

• As far as any potential plan to do something different in the second season, Landgraf said that, creatively, 'Terriers' was just fine. "I don't think you could make 'Terriers' much better," he said. "It only improved throughout the run of [season 1] episodes. They made it great. Now, could you make it more explicitly sexy or more explicitly violent? I suppose you could but [I believe] that would feel cheap. Part of what was great about 'Terriers' was its integrity and its subtlety."

• "We wish there was a perfect intersection between all that is good and all that is successful," he said. "But the reality is that there's a relatively poor correlation between excellence and commercial success. And what we said at FX all along was, we intend to find the points where those two things intersect." In its "at bats" over the past decade or so, Langraf noted, FX has a batting average of about .500, in terms of shows that were successful and those that weren't. "And we're going to keep swinging. We're going to keep plugging. We're going to renew the shows that hit both those targets and keep them on the air for a long long time and the ones that miss either one of those targets, we're going to move on."

• The thing about TV is that nobody ever really knows what viewers are going to respond to. As Landgraf noted, 'Sons of Anarchy' wasn't exactly thought to be a slam-dunk before it premiered, and it's now the network's biggest hit. "I think all successes are obvious in 20-20 hindsight. None of them are obvious with foresight."

• He said the network would consider the kind of high-concept genre shows that have worked for HBO and AMC of late ('True Blood,' 'The Walking Dead'). "I would be happy to put a show on the air that was based on a graphic novel property," he said. "My question would be, how can FX and how can television bring something to the table that film cannot?"

• Finally, Landgraf sounded genuinely pained that 'Terriers' didn't make it. "I just couldn't find any way, from a business standpoint, or quantitatively, to figure out how to do a second season of this show. And that's really unfortunate, because I love it," he said. Even he found it hard to stop using the present tense.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Russell Rings

Terriers didnt make it because of the fight with dish network. 3 million viewers had no chance to watch.This show deserves better. Its to bad

July 31 2011 at 10:00 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Donna Lee Ivins

I'm pretty sure it was the time slot that sucked. The show was absolutely amazing. Nothing keeps my attention and the acting was great. The story was great...

July 13 2011 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeffery Alan

to bad FX messed this up it was such a great show, I agree with the other writer, it would be a great show on HBO or Showtime! My wife and I will really miss this show! We really hope another network will pick it up and market it properly, it was so much better then so many other shows that have better ratings at other networks!

June 19 2011 at 7:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jeffery Alan

always thought this show was to good to be on "FX" and was really excited that they finally had a show we loved. I just don't believe "FX" has this kind of audience and they should have worked much harder with marketing to promote this wonderful program! If USA network can do it so can FX. I really hope some other network will pick up Terriers and run with it! I agree with the other blogger, I think it should be on HBO or SHOWTIME

June 19 2011 at 7:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I was going to watch the first Season online after seeing all the rave reviews (especially Mo's). The show made lots of critics' top 10 lists. Question. Will I be too disheartened after seeing only the one season. I loved Rubicon, and was shocked that didn't make it. Then again, watching complex shows like Rubicon and Damages back to back is far easier than trying to keep up after a week of time and everyday life events have transpired.

June 14 2011 at 9:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony Puleo

Like several others, I was searching to see when the new season of "Terriers" would start only to find that it was canceled back in December. This show had a great story line and top-notch acting. I wonder what a network who would better promote this fantastic show could do with the ratings? HBO? Showtime?

June 04 2011 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

just was wondering when this would be coming back on..... Needless to say I saw here that it has been cancelled.... this just SUCKS!

June 03 2011 at 12:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I know this is an older article but Googled Terriers because I was wondering when it would be on again. I am so disappointed that it has been cancelled. What a well crafted show, witty dialog, complex characters. A show really worth my time watching. And just for demographics......I'm 51 yr. old female who likes watching shows of substance and not some **** about bitchy spoiled housewives, which seems to be the norm for most of the TV that is on now. Shame on you FX.

May 21 2011 at 2:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Terriers was a brilliantly written, excellently acted, beautifully shot & well produced show! Yet sadly, terribly promoted. I have watched other stellar FX shows like Resue Me, Sons of Anarchy & Justified... all of which can really hook the viewer, but out of all of the suspenseful FX shows- Terriers was the one that got me. (The only other shows on FX that I truly love would be Always Sunny & Louie)

This was an incredible show that had me excited to watch television. I religiously tuned in for this program & I tried to spread the word like a freakn Jehovah's Witness!

I admit I was already a fan of Donal Logue (ever since I watched The Tao of Steve), so I could look passed the ad campaign, & I was intrigued by the series before it even aired. Once the show actually aired, however, I was hypnotized- it truly captured my attention, & surpassed any & all expectations I had. I was not devoted to the story due to some superficial curiosity or my established admiration for one of the stars... I was deeply touched by this show because it was a GREAT SHOW. Everything came together masterfully, & had this show been given another chance to exceed television's standards- it would have flourished.

It's awfully sad that genius is rarely recognized or appreciated. This show was far superior to so many "just good enough" shows out there, & when I see how much money absolute crap can make, well, it makes me want to shove all that crap into a paper bag, throw it on a network exec's porch, & set it on FIRE.

I hope that everyone who was involved with Terriers will move on to equally remarkable projects, so they can achieve the success & recognition that they all deserve.

May 21 2011 at 2:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sissi Lue

Bring Terriers back! I watched 1 episode and was instantly hooked! I watched the whole season! The season finally needs to be answered!!!

May 15 2011 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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