Watch now on:
It’s been four years since Terriers left me, and I still can’t get over it. The little gem of a series, which only ran for one season on FX in late 2010, is so subtly charming that it’s nearly ruined me for all other detective programs.
Terriers definitely takes its lead from the 1970s cop show. During that period the genre had reinvented itself. Gone were the square-jawed detectives slipping through Raymond Chandler-style noir settings. In their place were such unconventional lead characters as Telly Savalas’ lollipop-loving, bald and boisterous Captain Theo Kojak, and William Conrad’s formidable, overweight P.I., Frank Cannon. These men were placed in gritty (if not always realistic) plots with comic foils. And most of the action was set to driving, modern theme music. (You’ll have to wait until episode two to hear the theme to Terriers, Rob Duncan’s “Gunfight Epiphany,” but the good-time SoCal BBQ whistling strum of the song couldn’t be a better fit for the show.)
My own personal favorites from the era were Columbo’s Lietuenant Columbo (Peter Falk) and The Rockford Files’ Jim Rockford (the recently deceased James Garner). Like those two characters, Terriers’ unlicensed private investigators Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James) are lovable losers, good guys who can’t seem to get their lives in order. Hank’s a recovering alcoholic ex-cop; Britt’s a thief trying to go straight. They’re paper bums, men whose résumés and official documents will never get them legitimate work. Suffering everything from auto trouble to female trouble to money issues, they struggle with the formal architecture of society. Still, their appeal—their characters and personalities—inspire fierce loyalty and affection from the few who know them. In spite of, and often because of, their best intentions, they can’t catch a break, causing them, and those who love them, plenty of irritation and sometimes even pain.
I feel this way a lot, even if it’s cultural ignorance I’m pursuing and not criminals. This is not just me or Hank or Britt. This is every underdog, every little terrier who chomped his jaws down on some lout’s rump and refused to let go.
Here’s what you need to know before you watch the show: Every episode is better than the one before it. You might not be sold by the first episode, but you should be by the second and, like Hank and Britt within the show, you’ll want to take a bullet for Terriers by the end of the season. The writing is sharp, the supporting cast is integral (particularly Laura Allen as Katie, Britt’s girlfriend, and Karina Logue as Hank’s sister Stephanie) and the chemistry between each and every character is as human and likable as the lawmen genre gets.
The worst thing about this show is that it was only 13 episodes. There’s talk of a Kickstarter campaign or a revival at NetFlix, and while every principal player behind and in front of the camera would love to come back to Terriers, at this point, it’s just talk. Meanwhile, I’m willing to stand on my hind legs and beg.