Ellen Gray: 'Terriers,' 'Hellcats' debuting tonight
TERRIERS. 10 tonight, FX. HELLCATS. 9 tonight, Channel 57. IT'S RAINING cats and dogs on TV tonight. Not only is the CW trying to get a jump on the network competition with its new cheerleading series, "Hellcats," but FX is unleashing "Terriers," a whimsically titled, hard-to-resist buddy show from Ted Griffin ("Ocean's Eleven") and Shawn Ryan ("The Shield," "The Unit") that's got bark and bite.
TERRIERS. 10 tonight, FX.
HELLCATS. 9 tonight, Channel 57.
IT'S RAINING cats and dogs on TV tonight.
Not only is the CW trying to get a jump on the network competition with its new cheerleading series, "Hellcats," but FX is unleashing "Terriers," a whimsically titled, hard-to-resist buddy show from Ted Griffin ("Ocean's Eleven") and Shawn Ryan ("The Shield," "The Unit") that's got bark and bite.
And though "Terriers" isn't really about actual canines - despite a bulldog named Winston (Buster) that steals every scene it's in - it is about strays.
Donal Logue ("Life") stars as Hank Dolworth, an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic who's making ends meet, just barely, by working as an unlicensed private investigator.
He's partnered with Brett Pollock ("True Blood's" Michael Raymond-James), a former small-time thief for whom what Hank is experiencing as hard times probably represent a step up, not down.
Certainly his love life is in better shape: Hank's ex, Gretchen (Kimberly Quinn), is moving on without him, but Brett's girl, a veterinary student named Katie (Laura Allen), is easily the best thing that's ever happened to Brett, even if she sees him as the father of her future children.
Logue and Raymond-James have enough chemistry that I might have been content to wander behind them, at least for a while, as they poked their noses into one small and ill-conceived job after another.
But Griffin and Ryan had slightly grander plans, and so the case that blows up on the pair in tonight's premiere continues to reverberate, sometimes humorously, sometimes tragically, in the five episodes I've seen so far.
Yet the serialization proceeds so naturally, as the pair try to solve whatever problem's in front of them at the time - many of which appear to center on the ins and out of real estate - that viewers who come in in the middle should be fine.
Set and filmed in working-class Ocean Beach, not far from downtown San Diego, "Terriers" manages to achieve a distinct sense of place while fitting in perfectly at FX, which seems to have a affinity for breeds that might not fit in easily at other networks.
If you loved the first season of "Justified," you're probably going to want "Terriers" to follow you home, too.
With all due respect to cheerleaders, and, um, hellcats, I'm a dog person myself.
So when I say I didn't actually hate "Hellcats," it means something.
If nothing else, I'm in awe of the athleticism - the world now being divided, far from equally, between people who can do amazing things with their bodies and those of us who can merely watch and wonder.
Aly Michalka plays Marti Perkins, a student at Memphis, Tenn.'s, fictional Lancer University, a place she describes as "this little oasis powered by sports money."
A townie, she's able to afford it because her ne'er-do-well mother (Gail O'Grady) is a low-level university employee whose benefits include tuition. But when that benefit gets cut, it's brought to Marti's attention that there's an opening - and an accompanying scholarship - on the cheerleading squad.
Before you can say "Flashdance," Marti's brushed off her old high-school gymnast skills and is cartwheeling her way onto the Lancer Hellcats (whose very existence used to annoy her), and sharing a room and matching bedspreads with the amusingly obsessive head cheerleader, Savannah Monroe ("High School Musical's" Ashley Tisdale).
This being the CW, not everyone's happy with the situation, particularly the injured Hellcat whom Marti's replaced in the lineup and maybe in the affections of a boyfriend who's also a member of the coed team. (Conveniently, they all seem to share a locker room, which struck me as kind of "Ally McBeal.") Backbiting and middle-school trickery ensue.
On a slightly more adult level, Sharon Leal ("Boston Public") plays squad coach Vanessa Hodge, who's on notice from the head of athletics ("Battlestar Galactica's" Aaron Douglas) that her cheerleaders won't have much to cheer about, financially, if they don't place at nationals.
Sounds like a job for "Glee's" Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), but instead the pressure, a bit improbably, is on new girl Marti, whose offhand, "Save the cheerleaders, save the scholarship" allusion to "Heroes" serves as a reminder that even a cheerleader with superpowers may not be able to keep her show on the air if things get too silly. *
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