Category Archives: recaps/Terriers

Terriers, “Pimp Daddy”: Tranny fierce!

I find that taking a recovering alcoholic who’s already in sort of a dark place emotionally, then pushing him completely over the edge is usually a recipe for success. So, in the case of Hank Dalworth, I see everything comin’ up aces!

“Pimp Daddy,” like “Agua Caliente,” kept Hank and Britt separate, each doing their own thing. Britt finds himself helping a transsexual hooker look for a missing friend, while Hank is unconsciously trying to derail his ex-wife’s wedding. And it turns out Hank was right/wrong to do a little checking up on Gretchen’s new beau, as it turns out his parents raped like, a million kids, and there’s a slight possibility he had something to do with it. I can understand that Hank still has feelings for Gretchen, but I’m not completely sold on him living out some unsavory fantasy in which he wins her back. There’s something about that that seems a little too pie in the sky for a guy like Hank. I just don’t think he’d buy into it.

And besides, while it is a little much for Hank to presume that Gretchen is some wilting flower who needs him to watch out for her, I think their entire argument at the end of episode says a lot more about her than it does him. I mean, Jason was involved in some pretty messed up stuff, and Gretchen’s okay with it. Okay. She thinks he’s innocent. Fair enough. But still. If someone came out and told me something like that on our second date, I’m not so sure we’d ever make it to a third. And by third I mean third base, which I make it a point to get to on the first date. So you could see how awkward things might get. Anyway, I’m taking bets on how quickly Hank tries drowning his sorrows in a brown bottle. Before leaving Gretchen’s office, he made some douchey comment about it maybe being a good thing that they couldn’t have kids. So you know the anger’s already there. The self pity will soon follow and then after that all he’ll need is the booze. Although, if he did regress, it’d be half understandable. Wrong or not, Hank did what he did because he still loves Gretchen. And having the entire thing thrown back in his face, along with Gretch bringing the hammer down on whatever was left of their relationship has to be a tough thing to get through. How will it all play out? Stay tuned.

This episode’s case of the week seemed to come up much more naturally than it has in episodes past. And that case leading to another didn’t feel nearly as clunky as it could have, or even as similar cases have felt earlier in the season. And I have to say that there was something refreshing about everything working out for Britt. This isn’t a problem exclusive to ‘Terriers,’ but most of the time you can’t have a story like this without a gun going off and a car chase. So, Britt meeting this (wo)man, who didn’t try scamming him, finding the person they were looking for and bringing some closure to his parents was a nice change of pace. These last two episodes have really made Britt out to be the son who’s finally becoming a man, making something of himself. And we’re all so proud, aren’t we?

But not is well in Britt’s world. He found Katie throwing out a pregnancy test. And as Katie later confessed to Hank, she is pregnant, but there’s a chance Britt isn’t the father, and isn’t that just a kick in the soft stuff. Katie’s afforded a small respite from the stormy that are her woman’s emotions, as Britt proposes! That great news, and it’s about time these crazy kids finally get together. But let’s not tell Hank juuust yet. He’s having kind of a bad afternoon.

Advertisements

Terriers, “Agua Caliente”: Cartel grab.

“Agua Caliente” provided a nice little follow-up to “Change Partners,” showing us what happened to Britt’s old partner, Ray, whom we assumed had been picked up by the cops at the end of that episode. Turns out that would have been too neat and tidy. And in TV Land, neat and tidy is no good. You know what else is no good? ‘Neat & Tidy.’ A CBS buddy cop show which ran from 1983 to 1983. But maybe I’m getting off topic…

So what did happen? It’s the question fans have been asking, and all revealed after some of Ray’s drug cartel friends take Brit and throw him in the trunk of a car. Before the cops could pick him up, Ray skipped town and fell in with some shady characters south of the border. I know, I’m not really narrowing things down, am I? I keed, I keed. But seriously, if you live in Mexico, you probably work for a drug cartel. Anyway, while out on a “run,” (drug slang for a drug deal) Ray’s pulled over by the cops and books it, leaving the precious drugs behind to be taken in and bagged as evidence by what’s apparently the only incorruptible police station in the entire country. How much did Ray lose, you ask? Well, if you guessed a lot, you’d be wrong. Ray lost what had to have been three or four small packages of cocaine. It really didn’t look like very much, but one of the cartel bigwigs tells Britt that its street value was about $80,000, so who am I to argue? Anyway, Britt’s got to help Ray get it back or else they’ll kill Katie, who they’re following back in Ocean Beach.

The point of the episode seemed to be to provide some closure to the Katie’s-cheating-ways storyline. After spending weeks skipping class and dodging her professor, Katie’s forced back in the classroom to take her final. In her rush to get out of there, she leaves behind her cellphone, which is just the excuse her professor needs to drop by. But of course, when he does, he’s taken hostage by the Mexican thug staking Katie out, which is a problem most of us have probably had to deal with before. Luckily, Hank, Britt and Gustafson get there just in time to save them. Hank gets shot in the arm, but all in all it’s a small price to pay.

At the end of the episode, Hank, laid out on an ambulance gurney, has some stern words for Katie’s professor. Hank says that if he ever catches wind of him sleeping with another one of his students, Hank will make sure his wife finds out, along with every veterinary school from here to blah blah blah. Now, why would Hank make such a nasty threat? To protect Katie, and by extension, her relationship with Britt, right? It’s one of those situations in which the answer is so obvious that we fail to question the logic behind it. Katie’s a big girl, and it’s not like she fell on her professor’s penis on accident. If anyone needs a talking to, maybe it’s her. It’s just possible that she’s hurting her relationship with Britt even more than her professor. A crazy theory, I know. But there you go.

What I liked most about the episode was how much we got to see Gustafson, a character who could probably hold his own show, and just might get the chance now that Terriers’ chances of coming back for another season are almost nonexistent. His dynamic with Hank is very different from Britt’s, but that may be what I liked about it. Hank treats Britt too much like his little buddy, but it’s clear that he and Gustafson are on equal footing. Well, almost equal. Gustafson probably considers himself to be a little above Hank’s station in life. See? We’ve got conflict. That’s 13 on the air right there. Anyway, it felt like the show actually got a little better with Hank and Britt split up. Odd. Especially, for a show whose chemistry between its two leads is one of its biggest selling points.

Terriers, “Missing Persons”: Who am I?

In his excellent podcast, “TV on the Internet,” Todd VanDerWerff brings up the possibility that our favorite critical darling may be a tad overrated. His point is that, because the show is all but certain to be canceled before its second season, our desire to see the show survive may be getting in the way of our critical eye, making us prone to ignore some of the problems the show has. And if it’s problems we’re looking for, “Missing Persons” shows us there are a few.

The episode follows Hank and Britt as they try and help out a kid who’s lost his memory. While it seems that the show has couched some its main serialized arc — the Lindus story — there are still emotional stories being carried over from previous weeks. The largest of which here is Britt and Katie’s relationship after Katie slept with one of her professors. Also explored is Hank’s relationship with his sister, who as it turns out began exhibiting signs of mental illness when she was in college, and is the primary reason Hank is so willing to help out this amnesiac youth they’ve run across.

This is where the problems begin exhibiting themselves. As you may have guessed, I don’t watch many (read, any) procedurals, so it’s possible that this is just a setback of the genre, but the ways in which Hank and Britt have stumbled across these more contained cases has never felt particularly organic. This time, they just happen to be in the diner the amnesiac teen has locked himself in the bathroom of, trying to remember which way he used to comb his hair. And we’re off. For two pretty aimless guys, Hank and Britt sure do have more than their share of luck stumbling across people who could really use a pair of private investigators. Too much of this becomes a little tiresome, although I can accept the criticism that, if you didn’t have this sort of thing, you wouldn’t have a show. I don’t like it, but let’s move on.

The big parallel in this episode is Hank’s relationship to this young man and his relationship with his sister, and him coming to the realization that he can’t help either of them as much as he’d like to. After hallucinating an afternoon playing with a neighbor girl, Steph realizes that she’s not getting better and decides to check herself back into a hospital. Maybe I’m missing something here, but taking Steph out of the equation feels like the show is being robbed of one of its best kept secrets, and going forward, I honestly don’t think things will be as interesting as they could have been. The stellar work of Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James notwithstanding.

It also feels like the end of Steph’s arc on the show has retroactively lowered its stakes. Especially in “Manifest Destiny,” there seemed to be the possibility that she wouldn’t stay such a passive character, but instead find some way to help Hank and Britt with… who knows what. In the end, it just never materialized, and having her there just to reveal some deep, emotional truth about Hank seems like a situation mishandled.

As to whether or not this poses a problem to the show, well, your mileage will vary, but to me it’s indicative of the fact that the show is good and not great, and I honestly don’t think I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t show up in the 2011-2012 season. I mean, we should always mourn the loss of good television, but when you really have so much other good stuff out there, I don’t mind having my plate cleared a little here and there.

Terriers, “Ring-A-Ding-Ding”: I knew exactly what I was doing.

This latest episode of ‘Terriers’ took a break from the Lindus-Montague story and instead focused on our intrepid heroes and their respective relationship problems.

Gretchen’s getting married, and Jason, her new beau, was gracious enough to invite Hank to the engagement party. He did this partly to appease Gretchen, who still cares about Hank and wants him to be a part of their lives. He also did it for more personal, dickish reasons. And that was so Hank would come to accept the fact that he and Gretchen are getting married. And they’re probably going to be doing it all the time. What a jerk.

While they’re at the party, Jason gets up and makes the requisite platitude-laden speech about how his life was on the skids, and just before he lost hope completely, Gretchen appeared and pulled him back from the brink. The sentimentality doesn’t do much for Hank, but Britt gets a little choked and makes an excuse so he can sneak off into a corner and wipe the tears from his eyes. When Hank asks him if everything’s all right, Britt tells him that he’s finally decided to ask Katie to marry him. Hank’s happy for him, but only in that, hey-that’s-great-but-it-sucks-I’m-gonna-lose-my-best-friend kind of way.

If Britt’s serious about asking Katie to marry him, he better jump on that quick, because I’m not too sure how long a girl like her is going to be able to hold out. While Hank and Britt are out working a case, Katie heads out to a karaoke bar with some school friends. One in particular, Gavin, tries making several passes at her. And I’m glad the writers chose to name him Gavin, because that ensures that there’s zero chance I would ever warm to or feel any sympathy whatsoever for the character. Britt’s not around much. His job forces him to keep odd hours. We understand that. More importantly, Katie understands that. Enough to ignore all his lame jokes about her dating a ghost, and brush off his sloppy advances in the parking lot later that night. Unfortunately, she’s a little too sloshed to brush off the advances of her professor, who’s sort of a cross between Eric Bana and a woman.

Katie wakes up later that night sprawled out in his bed, and quickly hightails it home. She comes in and looks in horror at the scene laid out before her. Britt asleep on the couch, two champagne glasses and a lit candle on the table. Also a blue diamond ring worth $300,000. Doesn’t she feel like s**t? Well, maybe not so much when Britt wakes up and tells her the ring isn’t what she thinks, that it belongs to someone he and Hank are working a case for.

Katie, overcome with guilt, tells Hank the entire story, who then tells her never ever ever to tell Britt. Not sure about that one. Britt strikes me as the guy who could probably take it. And this is the kind of thing that’s only going to get worse the longer she keeps it to herself. I mean, it’s kind of a given that Britt’s going to find out about it. This is TV. Come on.

This was kind of a Britt-centric episode without being Britt centric, and I appreciated the look at how his problems are distinctly different from Hank’s. It makes you appreciate the dynamic between the two characters all the more when see how fully realized they are. And it was nice to spend a little more time with Katie, not least because of how good she looked in that sun dress, but because she seemed like a character who was getting a little short shrifted this season.

I know there’s a whole other side to the episode I’m not going into. I think a lot of it speaks for itself. As a stand-alone episode it was definitely one of the best this so far. I enjoyed it a lot more than I did “Dog and Pony,” which was much more lighthearted in tone. Although this episode didn’t feel like it had the closure that episode did, shifting at the end to Katie’s conversation with Hank. I’ll be interested to see how all of that plays out. As long as Hank and Britt can keep from crying. Leave that to the women. Am I right, fellas?

Terriers, “Manifest Destiny”: Weekend at Bernie’s.

While there are definitely shows that I can only say I like, I approach everything I watch with much higher hopes. I don’t want to watch a show just to fill time between seasons of ‘Breaking Bad.’ I want everything to be appointment television. This means that most of the time I’m disappointed, and just trying to find something decent to watch between seasons of ‘Breaking Bad.’

I’m still trying to figure out where ‘Terriers’ fits in the scheme of all this. This isn’t really a show I think about when I’m not watching it. But when it’s on, I really enjoy it. It’s ratings are horrible, even for a cable show, and right now it’s unclear as to whether or not it’ll get a second season. If it continues, I think the show could grow into something special. If not, I honestly don’t know how much I’ll think about it a month or two after the season concludes.

I have some trouble pinpointing what it is that keeps the show from making that jump from good to great. In an interview with Maureen Ryan and Ryan McGee on their aptly titled “Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan” podcast, executive producer Shawn Ryan mentioned that, as they were writing the show’s first episodes, he wanted to keep the tone a little more lighthearted than it would eventually become. And while we’ve seen some very dark moments — Hank taking the sledge hammer to his wall, forging a dead man’s signature on his loan documents — by and large it’s still a lighthearted show. Regardless of how intriguing the show’s current storyline is, Hank and Britt are only chasing shady real estate moguls. I find myself asking how high the stakes could possibly get.

Again, the chemistry between Logue and Raymond-James is something all shows should be so lucky to have. But I don’t think it could live off that alone. Some shows need respect paid to their premise to live on. Not everyone can be ‘Cougar Town.’ Last week’s “Manifest Destiny” seemed to wrap up the Lindus storyline, for a few week’s at least. It was left too open-ended for the show not to address it before the season’s end. It’ll be a tough wait. The show’s serialized episodes have proven much more interesting than its self-contained ones, so I was little disappointed with the teaser for tomorrow night’s episode. But we’ll see how things work out.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. “Manifest Destiny.” So our intrepid investigators have learned that Lindus may not be the villain in this sordid affair after all. And the people pulling the strings, a mysterious (?), powerful (?) lawyer named Zeitland and his henchman, the enigmatic Man in the Tan Suit, may not be trying to hide something on the Montague development from the good people of Ocean Beach after all, but trying to hide the people of Ocean Beach from something on the property… or something like that.

And in discovering that things were not as they at first seemed, we learn that Hank really got played. If Zeitland knew that Hank and Britt would plant the geological survey on Lindus and they’d be forced off the property, then advantage Zeitland. Where things go from here is a mystery, but whatever happens, I hope Hank’s sister sticks around to help them out. Of course, they would never have known they were played if it weren’t for her, and she really brings a lot to the show, and I like watching Logue playing off her character.

Some great moments in the episode. Hank and Britt faking Lindus’ death. Hank’s stoner call to 911. While I’m still not certain that the show can live off these character beats alone, they sure do make the show a hell of a lot more fun to watch.

Complaints:

  • The Man in the Tan Suit. I understand that until Hank’s meeting with Zeitland, we don’t know who the guy is, so referring to him as the guy in the tan suit is a way for us to identify him. But really, does this guy wear tan suits exclusively? Does he ever think, “Maybe a nice black”? Is it really normal for people to refer to you by the clothes you wore that one time? I wore shorts yesterday. When my mom mentions my blog to her friends, she doesn’t say, “It was written by my son. The one with shorts.”
  • Lindus was dead for all of two hours before his skin turned gray and pieces of him started falling off. I’ve been rooms with dead bodies before (so many dead bodies). It doesn’t really work like that.

Terriers, “Fustercluck”: Get your head in the game.

‘Terriers’ is a show that works much better when it skews dark, and these past two episodes have been perfect examples of that. “Fustercluck” brought us back to some stuff that had been set up in the pilot. And right when you think you have half an idea of where the rest of the season is going to go, everything gets turned upside down. Sometimes literally!**

Hank and Britt are approached by Lindus’ wife and asked to visit her husband, who’s still locked up in county. When she gives them a thousand dollars, Hank gets the feeling she may be desperate, and they’ve got nothing else going on, so why the hell not? They make the trip and the prerequisite jokes about what a dope Lindus is, all in jail and everything. Hank’s still hurting over his friend Mickey’s death, so as far as he’s concerned Lindus is right where he wants him. Lindus swears his innocence as far as Mickey’s concerned, even though he admits to killing the man in the lifeguard tower from the pilot, which kinds of shuts Hank up for a minute and makes him think. Finally, Lindus gets to why he asked them there: He needs Hank and Britt to steal a quarter of a million dollars for him. In return they get a cut, and the name of the man who murdered Mickey.

When I saw the commercial for this week’s episode, I was a little worried. That shot of Hank and Britt looking over blueprints with Lindus’ wife felt a little too Ocean’s 11 (funny that Ted Griffen created the show) for me. A little too professional for Hank and Britt, who are anything but. But in the end, their break-in felt like some of the season’s best writing so far. I love the chemistry between Logue and Raymond-James, but I’ve complained before about how cutesy their banter can sometimes get. So when Hank gets back in the truck, the money tucked away in his briefcase, and gives that subdued, “Are you gonna drive at some point, please?” it really felt like a cut above what we had seen so far.

So things are going along pretty much as we’d expect. They give the money to Lindus’ wife, they get their cut, and Hank visits the guy who killed Mickey, who turns out to be a low-level drug deal who was paid to get close to him. Then they discover that Lindus has made bail and find him at an airstrip, his wife and son in tow, about to hop on a plane. The PI’s demand answers and drag Lindus off to get them.

And that’s where things go sideways. Lindus runs off, gets hit by a car, and dies on the floor of Hank’s bathroom. It’s like Hank and Brit can’t help but dig themselves deeper and deeper. After taking Lindus, his wife went right to the cops claiming her husband had been kidnapped, and now Gustafson shows up looking for him. And now they know that if someone hired the dealer to get close to Mickey and kill him, there’s someone even above Lindus pulling the strings. The show has taken so many unexpected turns in just four episodes that I couldn’t even guess where it’ll go from here. But tonight really felt like it was on top of its game, and I have high hopes that it’ll be able to stay on that level.

Another unexpected turn this week. The shadowy figure we spotted climbing into Hank’s attic at the end of last week’s episode turned out to be his mentally-unstable sister Stephanie, played by Logue’s real-life sister, Karina. She a genius MIT-grad who escaped from a mental hospital and oh my how this could have been screwed up. But even though she only hovered around the edges of the episode, she really brought a lot of presence. By the end of the episode she’s found Lindus’ dead body — which Britt had stashed under some boxes in Hank’s bathtub — so I’m hoping she’ll stick around and maybe get a little more involved in things.

**Not literally.

Terriers, “Change Partners”: Don’t judge me.

There are still a few things about ‘Terriers’ that rub me the wrong way. The biggest of which is that Hank and Britt almost can’t help from stumbling into people who just happen to be in the market for private investigators. It’s something that brings the show’s believability down a notch, but ‘Terriers’ has got so much else going for it that it’s easy to look past.

This is where we start out in this week’s episode. Hank, still trying to deal with his financial woes, is trying to get a bank loan to pay off the house he’s buying from his ex-wife and the money he took from Britt. Of course he’s rejected, but as it turns out, mortgage company president Armond Foster just may be able to help him out, as long as he can look into this one thing for him.

That one thing happens to be his wife, Miriam (played by Olivia Williams). Foster is positive that she’s cheating on him and asks Hank to get photos of her with her mystery man. In return for the pictures, Hank will get his loan. It’s a no-brainer, but when Hank follows her that night, there is no mystery man. Miriam stops off at a posh restaurant, has a glass of wine and stares longingly into space, but there are no secret rendezvous, no uglies to be bumped. When Hank relays the information to Foster he gets angry and almost throws Hank out of his office, until Hank almost gets down on his knees and begs for just a few more days to check things out.

Hank and Britt are following Miriam the next day when she spots them, and after spraying Hank in the face with a bottle of mace, she comes clean about what she’s been up to, and what she’s been telling her husband she’s been up to. It turns out that years ago, there was another man. Foster’s a dirty, dirty masochist and when he heard about Miriam’s affair, it got him excited. Since then he’s told her to meet up with other men and fill him in on all the details. Miriam’s been lying to him ever since. So to keep Foster happy, Hank sets Miriam up with Britt and stages a fake photoshoot, to which Britt’s girlfriend has ABSOLUTELY NO OBJECTIONS. TV! Hank ends up sleeping with Miriam himself (for real this time), even though the entire thing smacked of sadness and more than a little desperation, considering it was after being paid a visit by his ex-wife and her new fiance. Maybe Hank’s turning a corner in his life. Maybe he’ll have the chance to actually nurture a relationship with Miriam and begin to heal the hurt he still feels over his divorce.

Or maybe the whole thing will go south (pun intended). When Hank goes back in to close the deal on his loan, Foster drops a bomb on him. He googled Hank’s name and found a picture of he and Brit online, so he knows that Hank was trying to pull a fast one on him. So Hank spills the beans on his love tryst with Miriam, thereby fullfilling his agreement with Foster and securing his loan! Looks like another one in the books, Terriers. Not so fast. As Hank’s leaving the office he realizes there was one form Foster forgot to sign, and just as he walks back in to get the signature, Hank sees that he’s jumped out the window to his death. So Hank takes the suicide note on Foster’s desk and forges his name on the loan form. That’s some pretty dark stuff. And THEN, that night he drives to Miriam’s place and tells her about it. But hey, what was he supposed to do? He NEEDED the loan. In any case, I think it shows that Hank’s a pretty self-destructive guy.

We also got a glimpse into Hank’s and Britt’s backstory this week. Hank caught Britt breaking into his place and instead of reporting him to the cops, took him out for waffles instead. All this comes up as an old friend of Britt’s comes back, trying to drag him back into the petty larceny game. The whole thing gets resolved pretty quickly, with Britt figuring out a way to frame him for another burglary and send him back to jail. It was wrapped up so neatly I can’t help but think it’s going to pop up again later this season. Something that definitely will pop up later in the season is the mysterious figure climbing into Hank’s attic at the very end of the episode, as Hank lays on the couch playing a sad little ditty on his guitar. What was at first thought to be “the house settling” is actually, what? A burglar? A homeless person? We’ll have to wait and see. But whatever happens will definitely prove the old adage, a terrier in the hand is worth two in the bush. Sorry. I’ve been drinking a lot tonight.