Monday, December 6, 2010

Film on TV - The Untimely Death of Terriers

Today FX cancelled Terriers, a whip smart Private Eye show executive produced by Shawn Ryan, the guy who brought FX The Shield, and successfully raised them from the second-run movie channel graveyard. But in TV, loyalty is a fickle thing, for executives and audiences alike.

Terriers was effectively doomed from the start, a casualty of poor programming and faulty marketing. For starters it was called Terriers, a name that gave casual viewers false ideas of animal planet adventures. Thematically, the title made sense – the detectives themselves were haggard but fearless in their hunt for answers, justice and personal growth. But the title was a stretch, and barely scratched the surface of the show’s beach-bum detective appeal.

Continuing that theme, FX blanketed its marketing with billboards of a dog holding a business card, overshadowing the detectives themselves lounging coolly in the background (or worse, this nondescript poster here on the left). Without further investigation of their own, audiences had no idea what this show was really about.

Upon further investigation, they’d find it was the creative brainchild of Ocean’s 11 screenwriter Ted Griffin, brought to the screen by Ryan and Tim Minear (Dollhouse). And they’d recognize stars Donald Logue from Grounded for Life and ER (among many, many other things) and Michael Raymond-James from True Blood. But TV is not film, and creative pedigree or likeable no-name actors have little impact on audience loyalty.

In the end the show ran for 13 episodes, averaged about 500,000 viewers per episode, and was stamped a complete failure. It was gonna take a gambling miracle for FX to justify the show’s financial loss, with only promise of future prestige in the ante. Sadly, that miracle never came.

Terriers was a rich and immersing show, character driven but never plot/twist negligent. It was wickedly smart, endearingly appealing and endlessly charismatic. It was the best new show of this fall season, and some of the best writing/acting on TV period.

And now it’s gone.

Can we blame FX for not giving the show a second chance to find its audience? Maybe.

Can we blame them for the terribly ineffective marketing? Yes.

Can we blame audiences for not tuning in anyway? For instead opting to spend their Wednesday’s watching The Defenders, The Whole Truth, Law & Order SVU or whatever else their Glee-infested DVRs had to offer? Probably.

Can we appreciate the show for what it was? For the creative highs it was able to reach, the narrative stability it was able to accomplish, and the memorable characters and adventures it generated so consistently in its too-short run? Absolutely.

There may never be another new episode of Terriers, but the season that was will live on.

1 comment:

The Bru said...

This means it won't come over here either. Shame.


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