Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good dogs: Reviewing the new FX series "Terriers"

When NBC proposed a remake of the classic series "The Rockford Files," many balked, but I thought it could be interesting. After all, what better hero for these down-trodden times than Jim Rockford, a scruffy yet resourceful private investigator, who plugs along against foes who are often stronger and better funded? The original attempt to remake that show faltered, though a new one is in the works.
However, if the remake never happens, that's now just fine with me. After seeing FX's new series "Terriers" (premiering tonight at 10 p.m.), I've decided that the show's protagonist, Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue), fills this generation's need for a scruffy but scrappy P.I. better than any revamped Rockford ever could.

"Terriers" itself is a welcome addition to TV-dom, a snappily written, very well-acted take on the well-worn P.I. drama. The show follows Dolworth, an ex-cop with a bevy of personal problems, as he attempts to make a living and clean up his act. He's assisted in business by his partner and new best friend Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), who is equally scruffy and also has a fairly troubled background (though we don't learn more about that until a few episodes into the show).
The two run a small, unlicensed investigation business and they're not above taking a job for, say, a year's worth of free dry-cleaning. Yet, despite their small-time vibe, they're not terrible at their work.
The stories are interesting, and the dialogue is witty -- as you might expect from series creator Ted Griffin, who wrote the George Clooney version of "Ocean's Eleven." In fact, the show has an excellent pedigree, that also includes having "Shield" creator Shawn Ryan as an executive producer.
However, the real show here is the interaction between Logue and Raymond-James who have the easy camaraderie of real long-time friends. Logue has always been an engaging presence, whether in movies like the charming indie "The Tao of Steve" or in the wide variety of TV shows in which he's appeared (I had a soft spot for his short-lived comedy "The Knights of Prosperity").
Though the stringy-haired, big bellied actor bears little physical resemblance to Rockford's James Garner, the two share a sort of wounded charm. Both are adept at portraying guys whose wit and intelligence masks deep pain and insecurity.
With a single sigh or sad smile, Logue can convey years of shame and disappointment. He also lets know when Hank is aware of how self-destructive he's being (as when, for example, he buys the house he used to live in with his ex-wife), yet can't help himself.
However, the real surprise on this show is Raymond-James, best known to me before "Terriers" for playing creepy characters in the movie "Black Snake Moan" and the TV show "True Blood." As Britt, he's sweet and child-like, with a cackling, big-mouthed laugh. His chemistry with Logue is impeccable, and I could easily watch these two guys for hours.
"Terriers" is definitely worth your time.


Bill Scurry said...

Until now, I had no idea how this show was going to go. I can't say I'm the world's biggest Logue fan, either.

IScreen said...

Oh no! I've actually always had a soft spot for Logue. But even if you're not a fan, he is at his most appealing and vulnerable here, and he delivers the witty dialogue with a nice offhand style.