Terriers Series Premiere Review: Season Pilot – Great On-Screen Chemistry

by on September 11, 2010 · 3 comments

in Culture, Labor, Media, Ocean Beach

by Ernie Estrella / tv.com – BuzzFocus / September 9, 2010

C’mon, what else are we going to do, cure cancer?”

Terriers is not a spin-off of Best in Show. In fact it’s the furthest thing from a show about dogs, unless the title is a play on the makeup of its lead characters—dynamic, tough and fearless. Terriers is the latest brainchild from Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield).

Donal Logue (Grounded for Life, Damages) stars in this surf and turf crime series as Hank Dolworth, a former cop turned unlicensed investigator. Michael Raymond-James (True Blood) plays Britt Pollack, Hank’s best friend and partner. They feed off the low level, small-time jobs set up by their lawyer and quasi-boss Maggie Lefferts (Jamie Denbo). Their cover is a beat up pickup truck with the sign crudely written “Gomez Brothers Pool Service” on its doors.

Sophisticated? No. Authentic? Yes. The show takes place (and is shot) all over San Diego, specifically the blue-collar beach town of Ocean Beach that has its share of characters and unique locales. Away from the posh hills of Del Mar, or the ritzy boutiques of La Jolla, O.B. is the area of the city that the rest of the country can relate to. Oh you’ll still see those other areas featured in the series, but O.B. is familiar ground for the leads. Logue, a former resident of nearby El Centro is a chameleon in the set’s surroundings. His scraggly face has traveled to many places on both the little and big screen, but he looks like he’s found his home.

Terriers is one of the shows that deserves to be followed. Griffin and Ryan are extremely strong creative forces and have a team of seasoned writers and a lineup of all-star directors that include Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow), Rian Johnson (Breaking Bad), Michael Offer (The State Within), Clark Johnson (The Shield, The Wire, Homicide), John Dahl (Dexter, Californication), Michael Zinberg (Monk, The Unit), and Tucker Gates (Lost, Alias) to name a few. In other words, everyone who is someone wants their hands on this show.

In the Pilot, Hank and Britt do an old friend a favor to track down his daughter who has gotten in some trouble. Their only lead brings them to a lifeguard station when they stumble upon a murder scene and quickly realize that this little case could just the tip of the of a bigger, badder iceberg. One thing leads to another and a good deed turns into a big black cauldron of hot water and the person stirring the pot has lots of friends, powerful, life-threatening friends.

Hank’s resourceful, and squeezes what connections he still has left in the police force, like his former partner detective Mark Gustafson (Rockmond Dunbar), while Britt’s sketchy past allows them access to where they’re not normally wanted. The boys barely making ends meet but that doesn’t mean they won’t get the job done.

Logue and Raymond-James have great on-screen chemistry, it’s not so much their banter as it is their comfort with each other. Their conversations are slightly coarse but not contrived or remotely over-the-top. Their characters have known each other for a long time. Britt knows Hank’s ex-wife, Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn) well enough to still have her on his speed dial, and Hank cares about Britt’s girlfriend Katie (Laura Allen) enough to pry when he senses something is straining their relationship. Hank whispers tunes just so they stick in Britt’s head the rest of the day. Britt’s lack of ambition is on par with Hank’s inability to move on after his divorce.

You could see how they annoy each other, but it’s easy to see why they’re a team. There’s been real thought given to these characters, and as the details of their lives organically appear on camera, they’ve sucked you into their bottom-dwelling lives. And they’re doing it with a smirk to the camera. You want to see them straighten themselves out, but at the same time, something tells you they’re going to stumble a lot along the way. It’s not a rags-to-riches story, or a crime of the week, Terriers is about mercifully getting by and finding the right direction when you’re down and out when it seems like you’re always the underdog, and that brings us back to the name of the show.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dickie September 11, 2010 at 2:15 pm

“. . . not a rags-to-riches story, or a crime of the week, Terriers is about mercifully getting by and finding the right direction when you’re down and out . . .”
I love that, especially the “getting by” . . . when I lived and was active around OB I knew so many people who were just getting by . . . and more or less content because they loved where they lived. . . . “and finding the right direction when you’re down and out ” [like trying to do the right thing?] can get you over certain humps too, ‘specially like self-image. That’s where Hank’s motivation to be the good guy comes in . . .


GuiltyFeat September 13, 2010 at 7:04 am

There’s no doubt that Terriers has a pedigree, it’s just more dog than show. Here’s my review: http://guiltyfeat.com/2010/09/12/scotch-terriers/ Have a read and tell me what you think.


Frank Gormlie September 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

Thanks for showing up and linking to your review. Once there, meh.

We’re all hoping the show will get better.


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