Hank Dolworth & Britt Pollack (Terriers)

Created by Ted Griffin

“Too small to fail.”
— evidently not.

Alcoholic disgraced ex-cop HANK DOLWORTH (Donal Logue, left) teams up with fellow slacker, drinking buddy and allegedly reformed thief BRITT POLLACK (Michael Raymond-James, right) to launch a down-scale, under-the-table detective agency in grimy, colourful Ocean Beach, California (near San Diego) in Terriers, a short-lived but much-loved 2010 television show from FX.

Like the CBC’s recent Republic of Doyle, the show was a conscious effort to emulate the golden age of character-driven 70’s television eyes like The Rockford Files, Harry O, Cannon, Banacek et al. The show’s creators and producers certainly had distinguished pedigrees: Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven) was the creator, with Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Tim Minear (Dollhouse) acting as executive produciers.

It was entertaining enough, I suppose. But I never quite buy Hank as an ex-cop. A washed-up blubbery former member of The Beach Boys, maybe; too prone to crying jags, far too watery for me to buy as a seasoned homicide dick. What made matters worse was that much of his moping was done in the name of his ex-wife — a plot device we’d all seen a zillion times before.

Far more credible and entertaining was ex-thief Britt, who had a weasely affabilty and a pragmatic — if erratic — sense of self-preservation. And he, at least, seemed to be capable of having a solid relationship (well, until the apparently inevitable soap opera elements kicked in).

My other gripe is that these guys, like too many other contempoary TV private eyes, just seemed to stumble into cases, rarely being actually hired by any actual client to do anything. And the obligatory complex underlying story arc — some sort of real estate boondoggle conspiracy — that allegedly tied it all together and add a sense of urgency to the proceedings — really didn’t.

Whatever happened to private eyes who just solved cases?

Still, I watched it faithfully. It showed plenty of potential, and in the home stretch of its first season it actually showed signs of possibly reaching that promise, finally manning up, taking an unexpectedly dark and nasty turn, with Britt actually arrested and facing serious jail time.

Who knows? If it had been allowed to come back for a second season — and they’d boldly followed Britt down that rabbit hole — it might still be running.

But as it stood, it certainly wasn’t worthy of the breathless hyperbole and drama queen histronics with which it was defended by its cult of devoted followers when Fox pulled the plug after one season, citing poor ratings.

THE EVIDENCE

  • “As a rule I don’t like getting my ass kicked for free.”
    –Hank explains his credo.
  • “I’m totally douched here, aren’t I?”
    — Britt gets busted, in “Quid Pro Quo”

UNDER OATH

  • “The title confused people. Was it about show dogs? A sports team? In fact, FX’s witty, shaggy-noir detective series was about small-time detectives, former cop Hank (Donal Logue) and former crook Britt (Michael Raymond-James), scraping by in Southern California when — like the dog that caught the car — they sank their teeth into a land-grab case much bigger than them. The weekly investigations were peppered with sharp dialogue, and Logue and Raymond-James shared the best screen chemistry of 2010. But the show really gained depth as it explored their personal demons, asking variations on the question: how much do you really want to know about those around you? Title aside, Terriers was a detective show tailor-made for recessionary times and a great exploration of a classic breed: the underdog.”
    –Time Magazine, on choosing Terriers as #10 of its “Top 10 TV Shows” for 2010.
  • “Pro tip. It is possible for characters to have a palpable connection without it being sexual… My first thought is always Terriers… still worth it to watch the opening scene of episode 7. I know Donal and Karina Logue are actually brother and sister (but) they infuse the dynamics of Hank and Steph’s sibling relationship with authenticity. This show did so many things exceptionally well, and one of them was how they handled Steph’s mental illness and Hank’s heartbreak over it.”
    — Sandra Ruttan (Facebook, May 2019)

TELEVISION

  • TERRIERS | Watch it now!
    (2010, FX)
    13 episodes
    60-minute episodes
    Writers: Shawn Ryan, Angela Kang, Phoef Sutton, Jed Seidel, Jon Worley
    Directors: Adam Arkin, Ted Griffin, Craig Brewer, John Dahl, Guy Ferland, Clark Johnson, Rian JohnsonMichael Zinberg
    Executive producers: Shawn Ryan, Ted Griffin
    Producer: Ed Milkovich
    Starring Donal Logue as HANK DOLWORTH
    and Michael Raymond-James as BRITT POLLACK
    Also starring Kimberly Quinn as Gretchen Dolworth
    Laura Allen as Katie Nichols
    Loren Dean as Alton Adler
    Rockmond Dunbar as Detective Mark Gustafson
    Jamie Denbo as Maggie Lefferts
    and Karina Logue as Steph Dolworth

    • “Pilot” (September 8, 2010)
    • “Dog and Pony” (September 15, 2010)
    • “Change Partners” (September 22, 2010)
    • “Fustercluck” (September 29, 2010)
    • “Manifest Destiny” (October 6, 2010)
    • “Ring-A-Ding-Ding” (October 13, 2010)
    • “Missing Persons” (October 20, 2010)
    • “Agua Caliente” (October 27, 2010)
    • “Pimp Daddy” (November 3, 2010)
    • “Asunder” (November 10, 2010)
    • “Sins of the Past” (November 17, 2010)
    • “Quid Pro Quo”” (November 24, 2010)
    • “Hail Mary” (December 1, 2010)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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