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Fine performances and strong writing give "Terriers" bite

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"Terriers" (FX, 10 tonight) was created and executive produced by Ted Griffin, the man who wrote "Ocean's Eleven," and executive produced by Shawn Ryan, the man who created and produced "The Shield."

I mention that upfront because in just two episodes you can tell "Terriers" is a perfect mix of what you'd expect of those two men. It has snappy, funny, realistic, salty dialogue. It has some grittiness, focusing on two damaged anti-heroes, and you root for them. The world they inhabit is corrupt, but deceptively sunny and bright. And it's packed with great characters.

Donal Logue plays Hank Dolworth, a former cop and recovering alcoholic who has become a low-rent, makeshift P.I., partnering with Britt Pollack (Michael Raymond-James), a former petty thief with a girlfriend Katie (Laura Allen) who is studying to be a vet. Hank's still in love with his wife Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn) but she's moved on, although she still cares about him. The two get legal help from pregnant, blunt Maggie (Jamie Denbo), a lawyer who also gets them work at times. Their antics typically put them in contact with Det. Mark Gustafson (Rockmond Dunbar), Hank's former partner, who hasn't forgotten how Hank has disappointed him.

I have to admit "Terriers" caught me off-guard. I was waiting to flinch at the violence, because of Ryan's association. But it's a much lighter show than "The Shield" although it has nice dramatic moments, like when Hank is shaken by the death of a friend or when he deals with some news from his ex-wife. I laughed out loud at a scene in the second episode in which Hank and Britt try to capture a fugitive.

I enjoyed all the performances; you can almost tell the actors know they are working with gold and they're loving it, fully owning their work, and comfortably settling in to their parts. There's no ACTING going on here.

Terriers are feisty, headstrong dogs and the show reflects those characteristics by chronicling the lives of regular folk who don't give up, despite the setbacks. "Terriers" is so good it might make you territorial about your Wednesdays at 10.


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About the blogger

Adrienne Johnson Martin would like to have her life turned into an animated cartoon. E-mail Adrienne.