Monday, September 17, 2012

Forget it, Jake- it's Terriers

By Erin Jackson

Terriers, like much of film noir, takes place in Southern California with a damsel in distress that leads to a case that quickly turns out to be so much more than our PI bargained for. It's hard to ignore the echoes of the neo-Noir classic Chinatown in its corrupt development deal plotline. However, Terriers lacks the dark fog, the stylized shadowy figures and other conceits of the genre. The action takes place mostly in the light of day, and in some ways the slacker-PI and dark buddy-comedy aspects of the show lessen the blow of the gritty subject matter, but in other ways, we see how a dark underbelly can reside anywhere, even in an idyllic oceanside town.

From the get go, Terriers sets itself apart from not only its Film Noir predecessors but from most TV dramas these days, as Terriers features a true hero, a guy we routinely root for and are rarely disappointed in. Donal Logue plays Hank Dollworth, an ex-cop who sobered up and starts a semi-reputable private detective agency. Hank utilizes his finely tuned skill set of a scoundrel on the outside of polite society for the benefit of mankind. He doesn't play by the rules but isn't without morals. In the first episode alone he is given ample opportunities to back down from his quest to take down a corrupt developer, to look the other way when people he cares about are framed and to profit from it. But he doesn't. At one point in the pilot he walks into a liquor store, stares down the wall of bottles and picks one up, and I yell at my TV, thinking that he is back on the wagon (off the wagon?) only to see in the next scene the bottle is for his former boss on the force, and it's a peace offering, and I wanted to give my TV a hug.

And Britt, his partner, is in a committed relationship with a wonderful girl who he is trying his best to be good enough for. Their lawyer Maggie Lefferts is very pregnant and very talented, way better than these two schmucks deserve but how I love her for trying to guide them through the dangerous terrain of pursuing a big time criminal on a low budget. And I even like Hank's ex-wife Gretchen, and so does Hank, really. There aren't a lot of people I wish ill upon; just a bunch of imperfect people trying and failing and trying again, which is so refreshing to see.

It almost goes without saying that this 1) well reviewed series with 2) a small but loyal fan base that 3) has a horrible name got cancelled pretty quickly. There are rumors of Terriers becoming a movie in the future, or getting picked up on Netflix, Arrested Development-style, and either of these things (or both) would be amazing. Though the season ends satisfyingly (this isn't one of those series that feels truncated at one season) these characters and actors merit more time, and if you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and get to know them.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

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