For each week in the month of April, we’ll be recommending a binge-watchable TV show you might not have check out yet. This week: Terriers, an FX dramedy about a pair of scruffy PIs.
One of the great virtues of video-on-demand is the opportunity to devour a TV show that deserved a lot more love when it originally aired. UnlikeFirefly, Arrested Development, or Veronica Mars, there’s virtually no hope for a belated revival of FX’s one-season wonder Terriers — but anyone who makes time for the 13 episodes we did get will be richly rewarded for it.
Terriers follows a pair of scruffy, unlicensed private investigators attempting to scrape by in a small California beach town. Donal Logue plays Hank Dolworth, a recovering alcoholic who’s mourning the self-inflicted losses of both his career and his marriage; Michael Raymond-James plays Britt Pollack, a onetime criminal who has managed to turn his life around. As the partners fumble and banter their way through the lowest of low-rent cases, they accidentally uncover a larger conspiracy that could threaten everyone and everything around them. It also had one of the best TV theme songs in recent history.
Terriers is alternately funny, tense, heartbreaking, and as twisty as any classic noir, with two stellar lead performances. Unfortunately, the show’s innate complexity also meant that FX never quite figured how to make it. Even near-universal critical accolades couldn’t attract enough viewers to earn Terriers a second season renewal — which is all the more maddening when you consider that the rise of DVR and video-on-demand platforms might have been enough to earn Terriers a loyal audience and another season if it had premiered just one or two years later.
Fortunately, Terriers' first season works just fine as a standalone piece of television. The TV landscape is overrun with shows about cops, detectives, and killers, but Terriers stands out by making the dynamics between the characters far more compelling than any crime they’re solving. If you’re intrigued by the idea of a series that captures the beachside noir of Veronica Mars, the thoughtful character work of Mad Men, and the quick, savvy banter of Joss Whedon at his best, do yourself a favor and give Terriers a spin.
“I want to end Mad Men, as a writer, the way I think the story was told. That’s what I’m interested in. It is weird that, in the future, if anybody’s watching this show, they will know the whole story.”—Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner reflects on the show’s legacy
“A leveler playing field for men and women — so that men and women doing the same job, over the same hours, are entitled to the same compensation — is a matter of basic human dignity, as well as something that regulation could fix relatively easily and cheaply.”—Yes, the gender pay gap is real