Donal Logue finds a sweet spot in ‘Terriers’ role
Donal Logue is the star of a show, “Terriers,” that has a lot going for it.
It has a clever premise — an ex-cop and ex-crook working together as private detectives — sharp plotting, strong acting, critical acclaim and the backing of a network — FX — with a taste for taking chances, and a track record of pulling them off (“Rescue Me,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Justified” and so on).
“Terriers” has a scruffy, unkempt charm. Logue (“Life,” “ER,” “Grounded for Life”) plays Hank Dolworth, a cop who left the force under less-than-ideal circumstances. He’s kicked the booze, but can’t quite quit his ex-wife. His partner, Britt (Michael Raymond-James of “True Blood”) is an expert thief. Britt sees this as a chance to go straight, even if the kinds of things Dolworth asks him to do are only slightly less illegal than his old gig.
Together, they roam the low-rent, sun-blasted ‘hoods of Ocean Beach, San Diego, sharing a beat-up pickup truck and clearly enjoying getting on each other’s nerves — no job too big or small. Then again, with so little separation between their past lives and present, the little jobs have a way of turning into big jobs very quickly.
“It has this feeling like the buddy shows of the ’70s,” Logue says. “But I think that we fight really hard to make sure that, emotionally, it’s right on target. It’s a little less ‘case-of-the-week,’ and a little more about the organic movements of these people’s lives, and what they contend with, from my mentally ill sister to my relationships.”
The show attempts to strike a balance between self-contained episodes and a larger ongoing story. So it’s not necessary to watch “Terriers” from day one to figure out what’s going on. (But you can catch up with On-Demand episodes.)
The show has picked up plenty of critical support, particularly online, in what Logue calls “blog-land.” Some have affectionately noted its throwback-style appeal, like “The Rockford Files” with more contemporary language and subject matter.
“I have no problem taking any kind of comparisons to that,” says Logue. “I think it also is reminiscent of this kind of Golden Age of television, where you really felt like these people were in your home, and were your friends. You felt a special kinship with them.”
Logue says he easily relates to his “Terriers” character. Although he went to Harvard, he grew up in California, and knows the show’s locations well. His sister in the show is also played by his real twin sister, Karina.
“I am who I am — I’m not going to ever pretend to be a super-hunky square-jawed American superhero,” he says. “I like to drag things towards what I think my natural strengths are. I find when I get changed up a lot and into things that I’m not — at that point, I don’t even know how to walk or talk.”
The one thing “Terriers” doesn’t have is a massive following of viewers — the show fell below the half-million mark for last week’s episode, according to tvbythenumbers.com .
Of course, not every great show catches on at first. Logue suspects that the initial ad campaign was a little too mysterious. Apparently, some viewers thought “Terriers” was going to be about dogs.
What does the “Terriers” name stand forâ¢
“God knows,” says Logue. “The bane of the show’s existence, it seems like. I don’t know if it’s an old reference to private investigators’ tenacity . .. It’s just been a little cutesy. It seems to have caused a lot of confusion that ultimately has not served us well.
“I think that’s what hurt us right out of the gate. People really didn’t know that it’s a fairly poignant drama. I think we hit both emotional depths pretty strongly and delicately … compared to that whole (advertising) campaign that seemed very flip. It really spun everything in a misdirection that we’re starting to recover from.”
• 10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX