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Terriers’ struggles to bust out from a procedural format

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The Details

Terriers
Two and a half stars
FX, Wednesdays, 10 p.m.

The dramas on FX don’t usually have much in common with the breezy, uncomplicated fun you find on USA’s somewhat formulaic procedurals, but the new private-eye series Terriers comes the closest yet to the FX version of a predictable, lighthearted time-waster. It ends up being more complicated than that, but unlike the similarly structured Justified, Terriers is actually best when ignoring its serialized elements in favor of forgettable stand-alone stories.

Main characters Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) are a pair of low-rent private investigators who don’t even have an office. Hank used to be a cop until he was bounced from the force for drunkenness (he’s since sobered up), and Britt was a petty criminal until Hank set him straight. They take offbeat cases, they banter, they try to put their messed-up lives in order. When the murder mystery in the pilot ends up stretching out into a convoluted, mostly uninteresting conspiracy, it feels at odds with the story of two likable losers trying to make ends meet.

The self-contained, single-episode cases aren’t exactly brilliant, but they do bring a different flavor to the FX drama lineup, a sort of caper-movie tone that creator Ted Griffin (screenwriter of Ocean’s Eleven and Matchstick Men) pulls off well. By the fifth episode, the ongoing conspiracy storyline has reached a sort of stopping point, and if Terriers continues to scale back, it could be as entertaining a diversion as those USA shows. For now, it’s struggling to find an identity.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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