‘Terriers’ struggles to bust out from a procedural format
Wed, Sep 1, 2010 (5:30 p.m.)
- FX, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.
The dramas on FX don’t usually have much in common with the breezy, uncomplicated fun you find on USA’s somewhat formulaic procedurals, but the new private-eye series Terriers comes the closest yet to the FX version of a predictable, lighthearted time-waster. It ends up being more complicated than that, but unlike the similarly structured Justified, Terriers is actually best when ignoring its serialized elements in favor of forgettable stand-alone stories.
Main characters Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) are a pair of low-rent private investigators who don’t even have an office. Hank used to be a cop until he was bounced from the force for drunkenness (he’s since sobered up), and Britt was a petty criminal until Hank set him straight. They take offbeat cases, they banter, they try to put their messed-up lives in order. When the murder mystery in the pilot ends up stretching out into a convoluted, mostly uninteresting conspiracy, it feels at odds with the story of two likable losers trying to make ends meet.
The self-contained, single-episode cases aren’t exactly brilliant, but they do bring a different flavor to the FX drama lineup, a sort of caper-movie tone that creator Ted Griffin (screenwriter of Ocean’s Eleven and Matchstick Men) pulls off well. By the fifth episode, the ongoing conspiracy storyline has reached a sort of stopping point, and if Terriers continues to scale back, it could be as entertaining a diversion as those USA shows. For now, it’s struggling to find an identity.