Terriers: Come For The Story, Stay For The Acting

terriers fx

By Chris Schick

Comparing Terriers to The Shield seems like a natural thing to do. You’ve got Shawn Ryan behind the scenes of both shows. Both are products of FX Networks. On first glance, that’s where comparisons end. But spend a little time with each and a few things become very apparent: Firstly these shows are Acting Showcases, every single week.

Michael Chiklis won an Emmy in The Shield’s first season. Donal Logue is clearly playing at that level, right from the get-go. Marvel at what he says, without saying a word. The crags on his weathered face, the gray in his shoddy beard? They speak volumes. His eyes are the eyes of a beaten man, but there’s just a hint of determination in them. Hank’s got mettle, given the right opportunity.

Vic Mackey’s First Season trajectory went from King of Farmington to broken lonely man. Logue’s Hank Dolworth starts out at the bottom of the barrel, a disgraced ex-cop scraping by as an unlicensed PI. I don’t expect Hank to get his badge back, or even the ex-wife he longs for…but life isn’t all big victories, it’s the little ones: Locating a ring for a client, securing a mortgage on the old house, staying sober.

While he’s clearly the lead, Terriers is more than just the Donal Logue Show. Michael Raymond-James and Laura Allen absolutely embody the roles of Hank’s partner Britt and his girl Katie. Their relationship is growing, with some unexpected bumps along the way. The rest of the supporting cast and weekly guest stars all bring their A-game. Working alongside these three improves everyone’s performance. It all comes from a real place.

Watch an episode or two, and one more similarity to The Shield becomes very apparent: Terriers is an exquisitely plotted, very well-written show. Hank says something in the first scene of the first episode that is slyly explained 4 episodes later. It’s not blared loudly, the writers have far too much respect for the audience to be on-the-nose. But the pieces are there, if you’re willing to put them together. And those pieces are delicious.

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Brian Lindenmuth

Brian is the non-fiction editor of Spinetingler magazine and one of the fiction editors of Snubnose Press. In addition to Spinetingler his work has appeared in Crimespree magazine and at BSC Review, Galleycat and the Mulholland Books website. He also heads the Spinetingler Award committee.

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