Like a dog returning to a favorite bone, I can't stop singing the praises of FX's Terriers (Wednesdays at 10/9c), which has flown dangerously under the radar since premiering with little fanfare right after Labor Day. It's an easier series to love than it is to pigeonhole, which (along with a vague and misleading title) may explain why it has struggled to find a following beyond a passionate few. In a fall season that has been remarkable for so much unremarkable formula blandness at the network level, Terriers is the rare show whose endearingly messy and flawed characters get under your skin and stay there.
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Is it a shaggy-dog private-eye caper? Yes, at times. Is it a buddy vehicle expertly balancing irreverent comedy, white-knuckle suspense and emotionally searing drama? Yes, at its best. And this week's episode is Terriers at its best.
With only four episodes to go in its freshman run — and let's hope there's more to come — this is a great time to discover the show or to rejoin it if you fell away. A new arc of potentially deadly intrigue rears its head, involving a land-deal cover-up that occupied the first third of the season. And several of the personal subplots that have dogged our heroes, Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James), reach an emotional apex, with the wedding of Hank's ex-wife as a nagging backdrop reminding the guys of a happiness that has up to now eluded them.
"Here's a piece of advice: Never play detective in your personal life," Hank cautions his partner Britt, who's head over heels in love with Katie (Laura Allen, in her best TV work to date) and wondering why she isn't sharing with him the news of her possibly pregnancy. He doesn't know of her drunken, and much regretted, one-night fling with her professor, a lapse she has confessed remorsefully to Hank, who wants above all for his best friend to be happy.
Hank, meanwhile, is desperately trying not to fall off the wagon after 543 days of sobriety, but his resolve is tested by his beloved Gretchen's nuptials (to which he was most definitely uninvited last week after meddling in the groom's past). Hank needs distraction, and finds it when he stumbles upon a dire situation that requires him to act the hero. A challenge he accepts gladly if recklessly, all while the wedding and reception carry on.
I guarantee you won't find a more satisfying and electrifying hour of drama anywhere on TV this week. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are astounding, as they lift and break the heart with unaffected honesty and genuine empathy. Give this show a look, and you'll be hooked for the rest of the run. Then you can join the chorus of fans begging FX not to send Terriers to the pound.