I have a lot of things I should be watching today for next week’s reviews and podcast, yet I’m sorely tempted to devote the entire day to watching “Terriers” now that the brilliant-but-canceled FX detective drama has arrived on Netflix Instant.
If you were around these parts last fall, you should know just how deeply I loved “Terriers” – including my passionate but ultimately futile argument for why FX should consider renewing it in spite of pathetically small ratings – and you read the reviews, read Ted Griffin’s take on the cancellation and where the show would have gone in a second season, etc.
At one point, I noted that even if the show only got the one season, that season worked so well as a self-contained entity that one day we would get to buy the DVD, keep it on our shelves and put the series on whenever we wanted to enjoy it in its shaggy, charming perfection. Unfortunately, Fox’s home video division has shown very little interest in putting out a DVD set, and the last comment I saw from Shawn Ryan on the subject wasn’t particularly optimistic.
But technology changes quickly – even if it confuses the hell out of our private eye heroes Hank and Britt – and the episodes have been available all along for paid download from iTunes and Amazon, and starting today they’re all on Netflix.
If you watched the show last year, you know how great it was, and why you’d want to revisit it now that it’s available in so many convenient fashions. If you didn’t watch it, here’s all you need to know: Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James (good friends in real life whose chemistry translates beautifully on-screen) play a pair of bottom-feeding Ocean Beach detectives – one an ex-cop, one an ex-thief, both with a magnificent gift for self-destruction – who alternate between simple, strange cases and a large, knotty conspiracy involving some of the richest, most powerful men in town. It does as good a job of balancing interesting standalone procedural stories with longer plot and character arcs as any first-year show I can remember.
It is funny, it is heartbreaking, and it really does feel like a great 13-chapter novel with a beginning, middle, and end. It sounds like a million things you’ve seen before, and it is – but it’s an incredibly well-done version of those things. I need the benefit of more time and distance to figure this out for sure, but at the moment it’s up there near the top of my list of best one-season shows ever, with “Freaks and Geeks” as the only show I’d probably put above it.
So while I don’t want to torpedo any of your work days, I can’t recommend watching these 13 episodes highly enough, through whatever digital method is easiest for you. “Terriers” unfortunately wasn’t (as its tagline suggested) too small to fail, but it’s just the right size for a great weekend viewing marathon. Enjoy.