I tend to hitch my wagon to dying stars. Music, movies, TV shows; women. You name it and sure enough it isn’t gonna last long or too few people will give a damn about it for me to be able share in the experience. Terriers was one of those stars. I should have known that this show was going to go under quick. It had so many things going against it.
- It was a P.I. show. P.I shows have bad luck. See Veronica Mars, The Dresden Files, Andy Barker P.I, Moonlight.
- It portrayed a long and reasonably complex story arc.
- It was a very subtle show.
- It starred the awesome, but cancellation bait, Donal Logue.
Terriers was really interesting show. Two buddies, ex-cop Hank (Logue) and ex-con Britt (Michael Raymond-James), are unlicensed private investigators who are pretty good at their job, but not so much at the business end. Their first action on screen is retrieving an English bulldog in exchange for a week of free dry cleaning (and points with the cute worker). This is the kind of humor runs rampant on the show. It only pulls back on the reins when things start to get serious with the show’s main conflict (involving fraud, blackmail, and murder).
Terriers was sold as a comedy drama, but it goes beyond that. This show felt like Chinatown and The Big Lewboski. I hate saying it was “this” meets “that”, but sometimes descriptions like that are apt. Besides the obvious parallels to Chinatown (California, P.I., complex plot, conspiracy) and The Big Lebowski (California, P.I., moments of existentialism hidden beneath subdued humor) Terriers contains direct homages and allusions to them as well. Certain shots, such as going down to the beach to investigate a clue, are straight out of Chinatown without being forced or hackneyed.
One of the best things about Terriers was how it just continually built on itself. The opening scene of the show (which is possibly one of my favorite openings ever)sets up things that get paid off episodes down the line and says so much with so little. The radio bring us in, “You’re listening to KXOB, Ocean Beach. Where constancy is the spice of life”. Already we get a strange existential introduction. We see Britt and Hank joking about possible senility and then their destitute economic state when Hank asks for a $1000 loan for some towels. Britt questions this “You want to be a dryer person?”. Every single thing mentioned in that scene gets paid off greatly and contains a much deeper meaning than it simplicity implies (“dryer person” alludes to Hank sobriety).
The show’s ending may feel rushed, but I truly don’t think that the cancellation changed a single thing about it. The prospect of more was very visible in it’s cliffhanger. I’m sure subsequent seasons would have delved deeper it the workings of the conspiracy. The first layer of what would have been a really long story that was being told in this series was done. It would have been nice to see where things would have gone. Instead we are left to wonder, do they turn left or do they go straight? You may not get that, but you will. Watch Terriers on Netflix.