FX canceled the freshman drama Terriers on Monday — a decision that the network's boss found wrenching enough to explain to the media.
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The show, created by Ted Griffin (Ocean's Eleven) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit), starred Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James as a pair of ragtag private investigators who became entangled in a corporate conspiracy that threatened their hometown of Ocean Beach.
Although the show was critically adored, it struggled to find an audience from the very beginning. The series premiere on Sept. 8 drew 970,000 viewers and 0.49 rating among the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, considerably lower than the premieres of FX's other failed series Dirt and The Riches. Last week's finale scored a 0.3 demo rating and drew 784,000 average viewers.
Check out photos of the Terriers cast
In a somewhat rare display of transparency, FX President John Landgraf addressed reporters Monday afternoon about the network's decision. Landgraf said that even if the show had doubled its ratings, it still would have been the network's lowest-rated show ever. Additionally, the show typically lost 47 percent of its lead-in and declined another 16 percent throughout the hour.
Landgraf said the cancellation was not a reflection of the show's quality, adding: "We wish there was a perfect intersection between all that is good and all that is successful, but the reality is there's a relatively poor correlation between excellence and commercial success."
Landgraf addressed complaints that the show was poorly marketed by FX. He said although billboards in New York and Los Angeles played up the image of a snarling dog instead of the buddy-cop duo, network's efforts nationwide mostly were focused on TV advertising that clearly depicted what the show was about.
Landgraf even commissioned a survey of 600 non-Terriers viewers about seven weeks into the show's run that suggested the advertising effectively conveyed what the show was about.
"People thought that the show was compatible with FX's brand, but dissimilar to other FX shows," Landgraf said. "They found it to be a little less edgy, a little less sexy, a little less suspenseful [than our other shows].
"The things that were really wonderful about the show tended to be relatively subtle — I don't know if subtlety is something the American public is buying in droves today," Landgraf said. "When I look at Jersey Shore and the Kardashians and Sons Of Anarchy and Walking Dead ... I wouldn't say that subtlety and nuance describe the most successful pop content."
The show has already made several best-of-the-year lists (including TVGuide.com's), which Landgraf called "bittersweet."
"This isn't the first really good show that we've had to cancel," Landgraf said. "And it won't be the last."
Are you sad to see Terriers go?