Good dogs, or, Why you should be watching Terriers

Hi, it’s me, Ana Holguin. You might remember me from such Idler posts as “Why you should watch Buffy and “Why I love My So-Called Life and “Musings about the children in Mad Men.” And yes, here I am once again bringing you good tidings of a televisual persuasion.

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “but, Ana, TV is not your beat! It’s your duty to guide us through the many facets of the pop-cultural universe with a feminist sensibility and a dash of wit. Why this hang up on the boob tube, that mind-deadening never-blinking eye of doom?!”

Dear Reader, to you I respectfully say “calm thyself.” There is plenty of time for all that is pop. This week I must champion yet another television program as we are facing a cable emergency—Terriers, my favorite new show of the season, could get canceled!

Clearly, you do not know a lot about Terriers, otherwise you’d be watching it every Wednesday night at 10 pm on F/X and it wouldn’t be suffering in the ratings. Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Enzo

Enzo, my dachshund/terrier mix, both lovable and ferocious

First of all, this show is not about dogs. As a crazy dog lady myself, I can tell you that if you’re tuning in for cute doggage alone, you’ll be pretty disappointed. However, if you like a good private detective drama and just happen to be a crazy dog person, you will be rewarded with regular guest appearances by a dapper young bulldog named “Winston.” So there’s that. From what I can gather, I believe the show bears its title as a way of alluding to the plucky mettle of its main characters—a couple of dudes whose bite is worse than their bark, so to speak. Tenacious and clever they are; muscle-bound, fanged and frightening they are not.

The show follows these two “terrier” guys, Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) and Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), who work as private investigators unburdened by the intricacies of things like say, following the letter of the law. Hank, a former police detective, has been kicked off the squad and moves “down” to his current occupation. Britt moves “up” from life as a petty criminal to become Hank’s partner/sidekick. The two meet in the middle and carry on from there solving cases for clients and righting wrongs as they see fit along the way.

Terriers

Donal Logue as Hank and Michael Raymond-James as Britt

All this is fine and dandy. I wasn’t blown away at first, I’ll admit it. But this is just the outer shell of the story and the program has quite a bit more to offer. Stick with Terriers beyond the first few episodes and you’ll find that the quirky private eye adventures served up each week actually are the secondary focus of the show while character relationships compose the true heart. Each episode explores how these two men negotiate and re-negotiate their contract with one another as colleagues, partners and best friends. Beyond this, Hank’s personal history slowly unfurls episode by episode as Britt’s shiny future with his live-in girlfriend Katie (Laura Allen) speeds forward. Hank’s past issues with alcoholism, a painful divorce and a brilliant mentally ill sister all tangle into his present in a way that fleshes out his character to both his partner and the audience at once. The show is constantly moving, turning and incorporating more character threads in such a way that the flashy Private Dick premise dims in the presence of the devastatingly simple human question of “how do we best live with and love other people?”

In short:

  1. If you like seeing men in roles that complicate and break free from the norms of masculinity, give Terriers a try. Hank and Britt are smart, savvy, playful, funny, loving, caring, romantic, dorky, etc. and satisfyingly so. And they’ll still punch a jerk in the face and drive fast and all that action jazz.
  2. If you like cop shows/detective dramas, give Terriers a chance. It gives you the weekly adrenaline rush and puzzle-solving while maintaining a cool and sometimes silly comic tone and a dramatic/meaningful core. Think Oceans Eleven—it’s produced by the guy who re-wrote Oceans for the neo-Rat Pack of Clooney, Pitt, Damon, et al.
  3. Lastly, to me, Terriers is basically a mature, man version of Veronica Mars (a program that left us much too early due to lack of ratings) and even though I’m wary of seeing the world through the male point of view yet a-freaking-gain, I still endorse this show whole-heartedly. If you haven’t seen Veronica Mars and you have no idea what I’m talking about, well then, I urge you to investigate that case yourself, Reader darling, because that is a blog for another day.
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3 Responses to “Good dogs, or, Why you should be watching Terriers
  1. ana says:

    yes, it’s definitely going down on the list of expertly done single seasons. “terriers,” meet “freaks and geeks” and “my so-called life.” goodbye, britt. goodbye, winston. hank dolworth, i think i’ll miss you most of all.

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    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

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