It’s not that “Terriers” is a bad show. It isn’t. But it is more of the same, only now with a different face (Donal Logue). The cable networks have become obsessed with these dramedy procedurals, and while I prefer them to the straight-up, self-serious procedurals on the nets, It doesn’t make them anymore original: Whether they’re private investigators, federal marshals, CIA or FBI agents, or even psychic detectives, they’re still working off the same general premise: Unattainable love interest that may or may not form the basis of the show’s mythology, and a series of generic cases. It’s the “Veronica Mars,” template, but “Veronica Mars” also played within the confines of a coming-of-age series instead of broken marriages and debt. The rest — “White Collar,” “Pysch,” “Burn Notice,” “Covert Affairs,” “In Plain Sight,” and “Memphis Beat,” among others — just trade out faces and occupations, and recycle the rest.
If you have to watch one, however, you should choose “Justified,” because Timothy Olyphant trumps all, and at least there’s a compelling ongoing villain in Walton Goggins, and there’s fewer cases of the week and more of the series long arc. But if you’re too ADD for “Justified,” “Terriers” is a solid alternative. Logue is fantastic, though I still prefer him as a supporting character, and it’s got good pedigree in exec producer, Shawn Ryan (“The Shield.”) I’d like to hope that the first episode — a routine millionaire developer, sex tape, and blackmail case — is setting up a far more intriguing season/series long arc, and not indicative of the case-of-the-week formula, although Loren Dean (Joe, of “Joe Lies” fame) is not half the actor that Goggins is.
Donal Logue is Hank Dolworth. He’s every goddamn former cop stereotype in the book: He got booted off the force because of alcohol problems (or “something like that,”), and he’s an unlicensed PI with friends on the force, including an ex-partner, with whom he has a strained relationship. His over-commitment to both his job and booze apparently cost him his marriage, setting up the unattainable love interest, here his ex-wife (see also: “Justified”), played by Kimberly Quinn. He’s got a free-wheeling partner, an ex-thief Britt (Michael Raymond-James) with commitment issues, and they solve cases meted out by procedural show playbook. I should also mention that there’s a dog.
The pilot suggests another routine PI show, albeit one with decent leads and comfortable chemistry between the two mismatched partners (are there any other kind?). That said, the opening episode wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to continue on with the series, but for the fact that I dig Donal Logue and others have suggested that the series doesn’t find its groove until the third or fourth episode, where presumably it finds a spark of creativity and begins to break away from its comfortable conventions.
I’ll give it that long, out of simple loyalty to Jimmy the Cab Driver: