OB Rag TV Critic takes bite of first episode of “Terriers”
As a rule, I hate soap operas for several reasons. First, I’m not that big on TV in the first place, and when I do watch I tend toward news or other politically relevant programming. Since I don’t watch a lot of television, I can’t be counted on to plop my butt on the couch at precisely the same time week after week to vegetate for an hour or more, so I think I should be able to pick up and put down a show as I please. South Park works for this, but if I miss an episode or three of a soap, I’m lost and might as well go find a magazine article or Rag post to feed my decidedly inattentive attention span.
My partner isn’t like this – she loves the prime-time soaps referred to as ‘dramas’ to avoid the ‘50s housewife association with their proper classification and dedicates two hours a night twice a week with me locked out of the bedroom so she doesn’t miss a crucial raised eyebrow or subtle aside. The closest I’ve come to getting excited about one was last year when a crazy guy on her Thursday night doctor shows shot half the main characters, and I was only interested because I thought if the whole cast was dead it meant the show must be going off air. Sadly, this has not proved to be the case.
So it was without considerable fanfare that I set out to watch Terriers, the new OB-centric soap that’s affected all of us in some way or another over the last few months of filming. Five weeks later, the show is a critics’ darling, yet languishing in mediocre-at-best ratings despite Fox’s (hold your nose on the fact it’s on a Murdoch channel) best efforts to generate interest and an all-star cast, crew, and writing/production team. But, I’ve got to admit, I’m hooked (damn it).
And if you’re so compelled, I’ve discovered that the interwebs make it quite easy these days to access back episodes and watch at your leisure, so that whole ‘I must not have any plans other than staring at my TV tuned to central San Diego’s Cox channel 43 from 10 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Wednesday nights,’ thing goes out the window.
We open the pilot episode to meet Hank (Donal Logue, channeling Jeff Bridges’ the Dude) and partner/sidekick Britt (Michael Raymond-James) bantering in a beat-up Ford Courier. They then proceed to steal a dog from a muscular and disgruntled gentleman, to be returned to his ex-wife. At this point I’m thinking this explains the series title, but I’m wondering how entertaining an extended Ace Ventura is going to be.
Cut to The Old Townhouse Restaurant (favorite filming locale, legendary breakfast spot, OB Rag sponsor) – in rapid succession we meet Hank’s ex-wife Gretchen, learn that she’s selling their old house (up on the hill bordering south OB and Sunset Cliffs from my judgment of the exterior shots), and is remarrying. Oh, and Hank’s old friend Mickey is in jail and needs bailed out. Locals are then treated to a montage of driving shots on Newport and in the pier parking lot, though one has to wonder (as was already wondered in earlier posts) how someone could possibly continue driving through this part of town for more than a minute without stopping once.
Next stop, the Ocean Beach Police Department. For the sake of the show, San Diego in its entirety is actually ‘Ocean Beach,’ as we’ve been awarded our own police force and other civil services, and we’ll be traveling to other locales such as La Jolla, City Heights, and Downtown, all of which comprise greater fictional OB. At OBPD’s central station, the boys pick up Mickey the drunk and take him over to Pat’s on Abbott for a bottle, at which point he discloses that he believes his daughter Eleanor is in trouble, needing cash and a gun.
Leaving Mickey to likely pass out drunk in the middle of my old apartment complex across the street (about a twice-weekly occurrence), they visit Eleanor’s house to discover that her roommate hasn’t seen her in a week. Clues in the girl’s room lead them to a posh mansion in La Jolla (excuse me, the ‘rich part’ of OB), owned by real estate magnate/Eleanor’s employer Robert Lindus. He quickly hires the two to continue their mission on his behalf and track down ‘something’ in her possession that he wants recovered.
A fake police ID allows our duo to track Ellie’s cell phone to a lifeguard tower, but not before Hank promises his half (as well as Britt’s) of the retainer from Lindus as a deposit to re-purchase his old house from ex Gretchen’s real estate agent. Instead of finding the missing girl, however, Britt plucks her phone from a decaying corpse inside. Our boys flee, only to discover their trusty Courier hooked up to a tow truck headed for the impound yard…with the kidnapped dog, yet to be returned to its owner.
Retiring to the home of Britt and his girlfriend Katie, Hank begins to flip through photos on Ellie’s phone before Katie confides to Hank she wants to have a baby. Hastily abandoning this awkward tidbit, the boys head to the police station to recover their truck and meet Mark Gustafson (Rockmond Dunbar), Hank’s former partner before he was involuntarily removed from the police force. The cops have now recovered and identified the body, a boyfriend of Ellie who was also in the employ of Lindus. Eleanor is the chief suspect in his murder. Gustafson inquires about the coincidence of our heroes’ truck being impounded near the scene of the crime, while Hank feigns ignorance.
Continuing to examine Ellie’s phone while Britt returns the stolen dog, Hank discovers an amateur porn starring his friend’s daughter and Lindus. After consummation of the deed and Ellie’s departure, Lindus answers a call on tape and appears to be ordering a hit be placed on persons unknown, as well as discussing problems with the Montague, a large development he’s heading up. By the time the tape reaches this point, Hank has returned home to find Eleanor with a gun trained on him, looking to recover the evidence.
The next morning, with Ellie in tow, the group has picked up a mysterious tail. They visit Hank’s pregnant attorney friend, who seems to understand the mysterious conversation and advises him that he’s uncovered something far too large for his own good. They put Ellie on a train north, where she’s to travel to Catalina and hide out.
Hank’s next stop is to visit Gustafson to inform him Ellie has gone into hiding and that he can prove she isn’t responsible for the murder. Hank tells him that he needs to search Lindus’ house as part of the murder investigation.
Jump to the docks Downtown, where Mickey, a longtime drunk but never a junkie of any sort, has OD’d on heroin. Hank immediately blames Lindus, and makes it known when they go to deliver Ellie’s cell phone containing the original sex tape he’s been paid to retrieve. The boys collect payment for the job, deliver a threat to “destroy” Lindus, and depart to plant the murder weapon recovered from Ellie in Lindus’ house.
We conclude the pilot episode with Gustafson raiding Lindus’ house and recovering the gun, and with viewers left with a million pieces of information to digest over the next week. If you’ve actually bothered to read all this, though, there should be more to the story in just a couple days, as we’ve got a month and a half of back episodes to catch up on…