Tag Archives: Olivia Williams

Don’t Forget About…FX’s Terriers (Tonight, 10/9c)

Don’t Forget About…FX’s Terriers

September 22nd, 2010

I’ll have some thoughts on Undercovers, NBC’s spy drama from J.J. Abrams, later today, but I want to offer a brief programming announcement first. Earlier this month, FX was kind enough to send along the first five episodes of Terriers, Shawn Ryan and Ted Griffin’s private eye drama series which debuted two weeks ago. I watched the episode over a two day period, or so, and I was impressed: the show is smart, funny, and has an ease about it which allows its stars (Donal Logue, Michael Raymond-James) to shine.

However, to some degree the viewing public didn’t see it the same way: there were some disappointed-sounding remarks following the pilot, and the show dropped precipitously for its second airing (and that was before the complete fall season kicked in). It’s unfortunate timing, the return of network television, in that “Change Partners” (tonight’s episode) is unquestionably Terriers’ best effort yet. It is the moment where things started to shift when going through the screeners, and the pivot upon which the following two episodes expand. Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) and Shawn Doyle (Big Love) guest star in the episode, and it’s here that the series enters into some darker territory, and the sense of “danger” goes from situational to environmental (if that makes any sense).

While the show may not become heavily serialized in “Change Partners,” the episode lays the foundation for those elements to arrive in the subsequent episodes. It is an episode which raises the moral stakes, raising the series’ profile along with it. While I know that you’re tempted to check out Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell in The Defenders, I really hope that those who watched the first couple of episodes and felt the show could do better will give this episode a chance. It’s simply some really great television, and I’d hate to see it get lost amidst the chaos and madness in which we’re all currently engrossed.

10/9c. FX. Tonight. Watch it.

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Series Finale: Dollhouse – “Epitaph Two: The Return”

“Epitaph Two: The Return”

January 29th, 2010

In the eyes of ardent supporters of Joss Whedon, Dollhouse is a continuation of his legacy: an interest in female protagonists who kick ass, an engagement with complex philosophical issues, a unique sense of humour, and an early cancellation at the hands of the villainous FOX.

However, not to be dismissive of those fans, I have to wonder Dollhouse actually has any sort of legacy of its own. We tend to view the show in terms of Whedon’s past successes, whether favourably or unfavourably, but has the show had time to do anything substantial on its own? As someone who has seen relatively little of Whedon’s work (Buffy and Angel are sitting on my DVD shelf waiting for me to get to them), I have struggled over the past few weeks with the question of what Dollhouse will leave behind for those without extensive knowledge of its creator.

It is a show that struggled to find a way to get to its big ideas in the early going, and that simply didn’t have enough time to live up to their full potential. They wanted to tell a story about the end of the world, but that world was never fully formed; they wanted to depict the tragic fall of some characters, but had to rush others to achieve its full effect. The second season has had moments of brilliance (“Belonging,” in particular), but it has had this pervasive sense that this would all be better if the show had more time, that they were trying to tell too much story to “wrap things up” and in the process missing out on some intriguing parts of this universe.

Heading into “Epitaph Two,” I lacked anything close to excitement: I was curious, there’s no question about that, but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat excited for what happens next. Instead, I was anxious to see just how a show that came in like a lamb and rushed its transition to lion plans on saying “bon voyage” to its miniscule but devoted fanbase.

The answer is with an hour of television that introduces too many new concepts too quickly, and which proves incapable of grounding all of them on realistic character motivations. However, in true Dollhouse spirit, there are enough moments of legitimately compelling drama to lift the episode to the point of being satisfying…or, more accurately, as unevenly satisfying as the show has been all along.

And that’s all we can really ask for.

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