Seriously, how many of you have even heard of this show? Usually I start by wondering how many people are watching, but clearly, the answer to that in this case is “no one” (“no one” meaning about 500,000 a week, although the finale was closer to 750,000 … for perspective, Walking Dead, a cable series I’m guessing you have heard of, gets about 5.5 million viewers per episode … for further perspective, Rubicon, another ratings flop beloved of this blog, got around a million viewers for its finale … in other words, no one watches Terriers).
So why has Terriers flown so far beneath the radar? Everyone points to the title (even after a full season, I have no idea what it means), and Tim Goodman makes a persuasive case that the problem was that Terriers, good as it was, didn’t match up with the identity of its network, FX, so a show with a title that already confused potential viewers ended up on a network whose signature shows (The Shield, Damages, Rescue Me) are edgy and unnerving, which is fine except Terriers is more like a shaggy dog that occasionally bites … it is an engrossing show, a fine character study, an interesting take on buddy movies, but, as Goodman notes, “it’s about as edgy as Murder, She Wrote.”
And so last night’s episode of Terriers was quite likely the last episode of Terriers. And a lot of you are going to find it on Netflix or Hulu a couple of years from now, and you’ll have a 13-episode marathon, and you’ll wonder why no one watched it and you’ll wish there was a Season Two.
This may be the last time I get to write about the show, so here are some of the things I liked about it:
The acting was strong across the board, and the chemistry between leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James was perfect. (The latter was especially impressive since I never thought I’d get his Cajun character from True Blood out of my mind, but he pulled it off.) Though it was a buddy show, the female characters had depth … they were more than just time-killers, and the show didn’t just take the guy’s side, the buddies were flawed and the show didn’t try to apologize for their behaviors. There was a nice blend of case-of-the-week and season-long arc. The ending was very satisfying, and worked whether or not the show is renewed. (In fact, the final scene was a bit meta in that regard, kinda like the way Sports Night’s second season was about a TV show that was in danger of being cancelled.)
I always understood why people didn’t watch Rubicon. But Terriers not only deserved a larger audience, it would reward that audience. I hope it gets a second season, I hope people catch up with it in the meantime, and I give Season One an A-.