Terriers: A Love Story

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Dear Terriers,

I hope this doesn't seem too forward. I know we've only been together for eight episodes. But I just can't keep my feelings for you a secret.

First, you should know that I don't take TV-watching lightly. I don't want to waste my time with tired sitcoms (S#!t My Dad Says) or formulaic procedurals (Law and Order: L.A.). And I refuse to live in the past and remain obsessed with the glory days of a show that's long been off the air (The Wire). I've been waiting for something new for a while now, for a show that breaks boundaries in a subtle and unpredictable way. And so far, you fit the bill.

I knew you were good on paper: You were developed by FX, a network that's known for both its intelligence and its ridiculousness. Plus, you're filmed on-location in San Diego's Ocean Beach, which I love for being quieter, moodier, more mysterious, and less "plastic" than it’s Southern California counterparts.

But then I watched you, and one look at your shooting style let me know you were keeping it real. You didn't try to impress me with fast camera work and fancy action sequences. You started off slow and steady, with your charming underdog characters Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) chit-chatting about buying towels and senility in the cab of Hank's truck. Your approach is simple and straightforward, and I like that about you. You don't have to be flashy, cause you've got what matters: good stories told by believable characters with good senses of humor. You’re not trying too hard.

Which brings me to your excellent casting choices. Are Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James friends off-screen? Because their chemistry just seems so natural—Paul Newman and Robert Redford natural, like in their Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid prime. I’ve been a fan of Logue for a while: I loved him as Jimmy the Cab driver in those MTV promos back in the early 90's, and as the philosophy spouting title character in The Tao of Steve. But on television, I've never really seen him in a show that allowed him to tap into the nuances of a real person. He's just so ideal for the role of Hank, a man with a strong moral code and very tangible flaws. I love that he looks like someone who has lived a life with real problems. I even love your cosmetic choice to give Hank his tribal collarbone tattoo—it's such a great detail, a subtle reveal of his character that I like to think of an indication that he used to be a surfer, or at least as someone who once felt comfortable going shirtless. All of these details add up. They’re not lost on me.

, aside from brief moments on Grounded for Life,

And then there's Michael Raymond-James as Britt, Hank's endearing and mischievous partner in crime. I'm totally charmed by Britt the character, but I'm also always a little bit nervous that he's going to really mess up, considering his criminal past. He keeps me on pins and needles, which as a viewer is the perfect place to be.

Finally, while overall you're a show about two unlicensed, trickster detectives and their hijinx, you also beautifully handle their relationships with the equally complex and believable women in their lives. Thank you for creating female characters who are all fully realized. From Britt’s girlfriend Katie (Laura Allen), the veterinarian-in-training who is kind and driven and messes up in the most believable ways; to Hank’s ex-wife Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn), who seemingly has her life in order but can’t quite let go of her past with Hank; to Maggie Lefferts (Jamie Denbo), the new mother and hilarious no-nonsense lawyer who keeps Hank and Britt out of trouble; to Steph, Hank’s mentally disturbed sister, played by Donal's real-life sister (Karina Logue). All of these women are a far cry from the one-note characters on other TV series who serve only to deliver punchlines or act of flavorless eye candy.

All of this is (obviously) to say that I’m really crazy about you. During a season full of unfunny comedies and recycled plotlines, you've kind of restored my faith in television as a storytelling medium. There is no other show on right now that I more look forward to watching. I think you're the real deal, and I hope it doesn’t weird you out when I tell you I’m in it for the long-haul.

xoxo,
Ilana

P.S. I love your opening credits, with the twangy song and western-inspired font, more than I can say.

Terriers airs Wednesdays at 10:00pm on FX.

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