Thursday, 2 December 2010

Of Terriers Season 1

Terriers finished it's first and potentially only season last night and now I'm here to review what has been one of my favourite TV shows of 2010. Terriers is absolutely fantastic, the lead actors had crazy amounts of chemistry and it had one of the best 13 episode runs of any television show I've ever seen. And today it was cancelled. Goddammit general public, why does this get to survive and complete trash get to continue. However this post isn't about me hating people not watching Terriers, but instead the wonderous single season that was Terriers.

If you don't feel the title has told you what the show is then you are not alone. One of the main reasons that people are saying that Terriers wasn't a hit was because no one really knew what the show was about and the title and cryptic advertising did not help matters at all. However the people who actually watched the show and stuck with it for all 13 fantastic episodes know exactly were treated to one hell of a ride. So here I go about to explain what exactly Terriers is about.

Terriers is (was) a show that centred upon the P.I enterprise of two men, Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), and the general ebb and flows of the business. They're two men who are a long way out of their league and even called "too small to fail" (*sigh* if only that were true of the ratings). Behind the scenes, Terriers had an all star writing staff made up of Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven), Shawn Ryan (The Shield), Tim Minear (Firefly) and Jed Seidel (Veronica Mars) who get to work their usual magic here. The show is a deft mixture of comic and serious moments, and is able to go between the two tones with ease. Even though a pervading tone of the show is the messiness of their operation, you still get sucked in and want to watch these two succeed even though it's clear they are completely out of their depth.

Much like shows of a similar ilk, Veronica Mars and Justified, Terriers swaps between procedural and serial plot lines, and even stories which appear to be stand alone have personal or even serial elements buried within the plot. Just like Veronica Mars did in it's first season the serial plot develops at just the right pace to keep you on your toes whilst also managing the thoroughly engaging one off plot lines. It took Justified, earlier this year, a few episodes to get the tone just right but Terriers succeeds at this from the very first episode. There isn't a single bad episode throughout the shows 13 episode run which is something that not many shows can attest to.

The main overriding plotline of the season focuses upon a large land grab happening within Hank and Britt's home town of Ocean Beach and whilst it isn't present it is still the driving narrative of the season. However every single episode advances the personal lives of the two main heroes, be it Hank's relationship with his ex-wife Gretchen (Kimberley Quinn) or his ex-partner in the police Mark Gustafson (Rockmond Dubar). The ex-partner storyline in particular leads to a fantastic episode of the series written by Firefly alum Tim Minear who wrote 'Out of Gas' for that particular show, and if you've that episode then you know the sort of thing to expect from that episode. The relationships between the characters are key to development of the show, from Britt and his girlfriend Katie or Hank's with relationships with the aforementioned ex-wife, ex-partner and his sister Steph (Karina Logue, Donal's real life sister). However of course the key relationship to the show is that between Hank and Britt.

Luckily their relationship is so good that it's easy to forget that these two are acting. Logue and Raymond-James have such clear chemistry that it just bubbles through in their acting. Be it from the brilliant dialogue or just the looks that they give each other, it's easy to tell that these two men are the best of friends who will have each others backs throughout whatever it is they get involved in, even if it puts them both in serious mortal peril. Character relationship as good as these two are rare, but when chemistry like this happens within a show that is already got such a great creative team, it makes the whole show doubly better.

I could wax lyrical for ages about what makes Terriers work, the chemistry, the great parade of actors, in particular Logue who is doing something akin to career best acting, the writing, the humour and the fact that the show isn't afraid to punch you in the gut (Alan Sepinwall's line). Terriers has great emotional heft that just makes the show work, you care about these guys and their fate and when something bad happens (and bad stuff does happen) you feel hurt. Terriers is one of those rare shows where everything clicked from the start, and sadly has the same story as Firefly (sorry Tim Minear). Even though Hank and Britt aren't the most advanced P.I's in the game you want to spend time with them all the same and the messy ways in which they achieve their goals. Terriers is the an absolutely fantastic one-and-done series, and whilst I'd love to have a second season, this first and only foray into the world of Ocean Beach was damn near close to perfection.


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