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November 23, 2014

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Thoughts on Where TV Dramas (and FX) Are Heading and an Update for 'Terriers' Fans

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 8th 2011 3:30PM
Sunday marked the end of my 18-day stint in California, and after almost three weeks spent covering Comic-Con and the Television Critics Association press tour, I'm barely able to form complete sentences, let alone formulate a theory about the Future of Television.

Yet it seems to me that the television, especially in the cable realm, is at something of a crossroads. Formulaic fare such as 'Rizzoli and Isles' and splashy genre shows like 'True Blood' and 'The Walking Dead' have been big hits, and, after the cancellation of shows like 'Terriers' and 'Men of a Certain Age' and the end of 'Friday Night Lights,' it's hard not to wonder whether the golden age of character-driven drama is losing some of its luster. (Speaking of 'Terriers,' I'll get to a bit of news about the creator of that show in a bit.)

I defer to no one in my geek devotion (I managed to turn an interview with 'Terra Nova' executive producer Rene Echavarria into a discussion of a show he worked on ages ago, 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'). But at times lately, I have feared that during the next few years, we are in for an interminable deluge of predictable doctor-lawyer-cop fare and shows featuring wall-to-wall vampires, zombies, aliens and spectral apparations.

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The Best TV of 2010: The Top 10 Roster

by Maureen Ryan, posted Dec 2nd 2010 2:30PM
Narrowing down my yearly Top 10 list to only ten individual TV shows proved very difficult this year. There was just too much good TV, and thank goodness for that. None of the new shows that the broadcast networks debuted this fall made the cut, but no matter, there was still plenty of good drama and comedy to choose from.

So much, in fact, that I decided expand my list a bit. There are, as you can see below, ten entries in my Best of 2010 list, but a couple of entries mention multiple shows. I've got a new job and new editors, so why not try a new way of approaching the Top 10 list, right? All I can say is, it would have melted my brain and hurt my heart to leave any of the shows below off my list.

By the way, in the next week or so, I'll post a long list of runners up -- more than two dozen scripted shows that didn't quite make the cut here but which were nevertheless pleasing, compelling or noteworthy during the past year.

Without further ado, here's my list of the best television shows of 2010:

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'Terriers' Finale Recap: The Many Joys of Hanging with Hank and Britt (VIDEO)

by Maureen Ryan, posted Dec 1st 2010 11:05PM
With a lot of shows, you have to choose between plot and character.

'Terriers,' as the FX drama ably demonstrated in its well-crafted first-season finale on Wednesday, supplies ample servings both, and that's a rarity worth savoring. Plus the world 'Terriers' created in 13 episodes felt so real and complete that if I ever visit Ocean Beach, I expect to find Hank and Britt arguing over coffee and eggs in a rundown diner.

Of course I very much want the low-rated 'Terriers' to get a second season, but this isn't going to be one of those "Save 'Terriers'" pieces. This is simply going to be a celebration of the things this compelling, funky, smart show did well.

Get comfortable. We might be here awhile.

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'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.

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'Terriers': Hank Gives Aggressive, Unconventional Pep Talk (VIDEO)

by Aimee Deeken, posted Oct 21st 2010 12:00PM
Hank Gives Aggressive Pep Talk on 'Terriers'Adam, an amnesiac college student, is having one hell of a mental breakdown on 'Terriers' (Wed., 10PM ET on FX). Now he's armed -- but not dangerous, in Hank's opinion.

Forgoing police protection, Hank charges into the apartment and is able to swipe his gun. It's filled with water. "If you want them to shoot you, you don't fill it with water first!"

Adam is racked with guilt. But Hank says, "Those pills you took -- they made you do what you did." No, Adam is convinced he's sick, he's crazy.

Hank shouts, "You want to see crazy? I'll show you crazy 'cause I know it!" and he throws him against the wall. "Now listen to me, man: You do not get to do this. There are people out there who have a kind of crazy that will never go away. And they have to keep on living. And what happened to you is gonna pass ... Pull yourself together!"

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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."

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Five Reasons to Watch 'Terriers'

by Ryan McGee, posted Oct 13th 2010 6:00PM
TerriersThe fall season hasn't treated new shows kindly. With few exceptions, not many programs made a critical splash, and one of the few that did ('Lone Star') got the boot after just two episodes.

It's all well and good to think in theoretical terms about what can be done to ensure that only the safest, most inoffensive and blandest programming gets the green light in the near future. But I'm here to propose a simpler, more concrete, and potentially more effective way to combat a future slew of boring TV: watch FX's 'Terriers.'

Lost in the shuffle in more ways than one, 'Terriers' had quietly produced five consecutively strong episodes right out of the gate.

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'Terriers': Getting Rid of a Corpse Is Harder Than You Think (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Oct 7th 2010 10:00AM
'Terriers': Getting Rid of a Corpse Is Harder Than You ThinkHow hard can getting rid of a dead body be? It should be pretty easy, right? But for our bumbling anti-heroes on 'Terriers' (Wed., 10PM ET on FX), even the simplest task can lead to massive complications.

[Warning: Spoiler alert.]

Since the first episode of the show, detectives Hank and Britt have been plagued by evil real estate developer Robert Lindus (played by Christopher Cousins). Lindus has conned them, betrayed them, and involved our heroes in a ridiculously convoluted murder case. But now, Lindus is dead! Hurray! He's dead! And his body is located in a car that's perched right by the edge of a ravine. All the buddies have to do is push the car over the cliff, and they're done.

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'Talking TV' Podcast With Writer/Producer Shawn Ryan ('Terriers,' 'Ride-Along,' 'The Shield')

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 27th 2010 6:30PM
This week, Ryan McGee and I are extremely pleased to bring you a special edition of the 'Talking TV with Ryan & Ryan' podcast. It's more accurate to call it 'Talking TV with Ryan & Ryan & Ryan' because Shawn Ryan, executive producer of FX's very enjoyable 'Terriers' and the mid-season Fox drama 'Ride-Along,' joined us for the hourlong chat.

Ryan, who created the landmark FX drama 'The Shield' and has also worked on 'The Unit,' 'Lie to Me,' 'Angel' and 'Nash Bridges,' gave us insight into the creative processes behind his past, current and upcoming shows, and talked about the general challenges of creating quality television (yes, Fox's struggling drama 'Lone Star' did come up).

My favorite part of the podcast is his thought-provoking list of 'Five Things That Bother Showrunners.' I can pretty much guarantee that some things on that list will take you by surprise.

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Hank and Britt Learn You Don't Bring a Bat to a Fight With a Giant on 'Terriers' (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 16th 2010 5:09AM
'Terriers' - 'Dog and Pony'The boys on 'Terriers' (Wed., 10PM on FX) were in need of some quick cash this week. But the challenge before them may have outweighed their need, as they agreed to bring in an escaped convict who was easily twice their size. Played by 6'7" tall character actor Matthew Willig, Montell is a mountain of a man, and these guys just don't have the skills or equipment to take him in, or even down.

While preparing to go in, Hank (Donal Logue) had his partner carry a bat and told him, "If for any reason, he doesn't go down, not to worry. You hit him with the pepper spray."

Unfortunately, they didn't get the chance to do any of that, as Montell practically grabbed Britt (Michael Raymond-James) by the face and pulled him into the house.

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Fall TV's Best New Shows

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 9th 2010 1:30PM
Your TV will be flooded with new shows in coming weeks, so consider this an attempt to help you sort through your couch-potato options.

Of course, when it comes to new shows, no one can accurately predict which ones will fulfill their early promise and which ones will flame out creatively or get canceled within weeks of their premieres. And this year there are few slam-dunks along the lines of 'The Good Wife' or 'Modern Family' (to get our comedy kicks we'll probably have to go with returning shows, given that none of the new comedies look too promising).

Without further ado, these are the fall programs that, on first glance, appear to have quite a bit of potential:

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'Terriers' Premiere: Small-Time Detectives Try to Solve the Really Big Crimes (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Sep 9th 2010 6:00AM
'Terriers' Premiere: Small-Time Detectives Try to Solve the Really Big CrimesAn ex-cop and an ex-con are paired together on the new drama 'Terriers' (Wed., 10PM ET on FX). Partners Hank and Britt (played by Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James) are scruffy and broke. They don't have a license for their detective agency. Their most powerful weapon against crime is a filthy old pickup truck. Hilariously, they're even willing to solve a case in exchange for having their clothes dry-cleaned.

The question is this: Are these two investigators too "small-time" to take on the big cases? Let's find out.

[Spoiler alert.]

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'Terriers' Season 1 Review

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 8th 2010 9:00AM
What it is: 'Terriers' follows best friends Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), two unlicensed private investigators in San Diego. Their dogged and sometimes comedic exploits earn them enemies in high places.

When it airs: 'Terriers' debuts on Wednesday 10PM on FX.

Hollywood occasionally offers modern updates on film noir, but television rarely does, which is a pity. What's not to love about broken-down detectives warily sniffing out the crimes of the rich and powerful? Betrayal, both personal and political, offers rich pickings to writers intrigued by the "mystery" half of "murder mystery."

San Diego seems to be a magnet for the few shows that explore noir-ish terrain; the late, lamented 'Veronica Mars' had a high school detective exposing the ugly side of the oceanside paradise. The diverting and enjoyable 'Terriers' occupies a different stylistic territory, but there's a noir strain underneath its shaggy exterior. As the best detective stories do, it features a smart, flawed lead character who is too stubborn and inquisitive for his own good.

Hank Dolworth is a newly sober, newly divorced former cop who's trying to make a go of it as a private detective; judging by the state of his beat-up truck, his new career path isn't exactly lucrative. Still, in his scruffy new gig, he gets to hang out with his best friend, the boyish and impetuous Britt, and together they get into all kinds of scrapes (if you want someone to steal your dog from your ex, these are the guys to call).

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Talking TV Podcast: 'Nikita,' 'Burn Notice,' 'Terriers' and more

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 7th 2010 4:30PM
UPDATE: Speaking of podcasts, I also guested on the 'Firewall & Iceberg' podcast with Alan Sepinwall of Hitfix.com.

It's time for the weekly 'Talking TV with Ryan & Ryan' update.

Every week, Ryan McGee and I unleash two TV-obsessed podcasts for your listening pleasure.

In the first podcast, we discuss Sunday's excellent episode of 'Mad Men' with special guest Tom Fitzgerald of the swell site Tom and Lorenzo.

In the second podcast, Ryan and I talk about 'Burn Notice's' summer finale and some fall shows we're excited about, namely 'Terriers,' 'Sons of Anarchy' and 'Nikita.' My review of 'SOA' is here, by the way, and my reviews of 'Terriers' and 'Nikita' will be posted on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

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Donal Logue & Michael Raymond-James Talk 'Terriers' (VIDEO)

by Maggie Furlong, posted Sep 7th 2010 3:15PM
TerriersAn ex-cop and an ex-con team up as a ragtag P.I. duo? OK, tell me more...

Well, that's kind of all she wrote according to 'Terriers' star Donal Logue. Of course there's more to his new series (premieres Wed., Sept. 8, 10PM ET on FX), but his "it is what it was" explanation proves that it's not your average buddy cop/robber/investigator show, and a lot of that has to do with the pairing of Logue and 'True Blood' alum Michael Raymond-James. The two have chemistry to burn and give the drama just the right amount of levity.

I caught up with Logue and Raymond-James to hear more about their characters' unilkely pairing, working with writer and executive producer Shawn Ryan, creator Ted Griffin (he wrote 'Ocean's Eleven'), Craig Brewer and Tim Minear, and how they're not too unlike the guys they play.

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