Ratings be damned, the freshman season of FX's "Terriers" is weekly bringing its loyal fan base the kind of show that leaves you hungry for more bantering between unconventional detectives Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond James), more unique cases to solve and, of course, to see just how much more complicated the guys' respective relationships can become.
With tonight's episode, "Pimp Daddy," things across the board move to the next level of messy and, as Logue told our Jim Halterman last week about what is to come, "the train rolls towards the cliff really fast." Logue also told us about just how challenging it is for him to shift gears from comedy to drama, whether Hank will be driven back to the bottle if he doesn't win back his ex-wife and about the recent tour that Logue and James embarked on to spread the word on this gem of a show.
Jim Halterman: Hank has some really great, emotional moments in the "Pimp Daddy" episode so I have to ask if doing Hank's drama scenes is challenging since you're known mostly for comedy.
Donal Logue: Had I not done 'The Cab Driver' a long time ago, I probably wouldn't have started in a comedic direction but I think if you're mildly funny and you can do comedy then that is where you go but I find it hard to believe that most decent comic actors can't knock drama out of the park. It's just more about your sensitivity to your sense of humanity and to me it feels very easy and very natural. From the start I felt like I know this character so well. Hank probably has the same moral leanings as I do so with each different situation it doesn't seem far from what I would do.
JH: The show really seemed to gel early on - even in the pilot. Can you talk about how everyone involved cultivated that feeling so early when some shows take awhile to find their footing?
DL: I think it just started vibing in that direction early. There was a little bit of wackiness that seems to have worked itself out completely after the first two episodes - and not wackiness with a capital W - but I think once [the writers] saw how strong all of us were vibrating towards the emotional and poignant scenes they became the fun thing to write for. It was discussed and I think the fact that I auditioned with everybody who ended up being in the thing and we all spent a couple of weeks reading so we were all pretty tight once we got to the pilot so that helped a lot.
JH: Talk to me about the Gretchen-Hank relationship. She isn't always so nice to him and says things like 'Your life bounces like a check.' Is it just that he's so in love with her that he doesn't care that she doesn't respect him?
DL: I guess so. I think now he's figuring out things about life and it may give him the strength to just say 'I can live without this thing.' It is funny because in those early episodes she did have a tendency to kind of just relentlessly bitch at him and there's some point where you go 'Ok, I got it. Tell me when I do something right.' But, you know, things happen in her life coming up that are pretty intense, too.
JH: With Hank being an ex-drinker, I worry that if he and Gretchen don't reconcile, he will probably grab the bottle again. Is that too obvious a place to go?
DL: The more accurate representation of an alcoholic's life - and maybe I'm just talking smack - is that you can get through all the super dramatic stuff but it's just when the shoelace breaks on a Sunday afternoon that you're just overwhelmed by something that mundane. It's tricky with people.
JH: Can we expect a nice big cliffhanger at the end of the season?
DL: The big ticket dramatic stuff is coming down the pike in spades and it more revolves around the two different storylines with what's happening with Britt and Katie and then a case comes back and that affects all their lives. At the end of the season, there is something that would... if we came back, we wouldn't come back the next day. It would take some time. Something big happens at the end of the season, for sure. I think this next episode (tonight's "Pimp Daddy") is the last one because after that they just start driving brutally towards the end of the season.
JH: And now Hank knows that Katie has slept with someone else...
DL: She confesses to me that she banged her professor and I'm like 'You gotta hold onto that because it will kill Britt.' I'm just trying to help but this is all where things go for the rest of the season.
JH: And the fact that Hank is holding that secret is going to complicate their friendship, right?
DL: It definitely complicates their relationship, for sure.
JH: You and Michael have been touring around the country promoting the show. How was it being on the road?
DL: It was really fun and really nuts. We went up through Chicago, went to Detroit where Mikey is from, Pittsburgh and Boston and New York... a lot more people are interested in this show than I would have thought. A lot of people knew us through the "True Blood"/"Grounded For Life" route. I know the tour made an impact on us personally. What we did mostly was go to colleges and we'd do these super long question and answer sessions and seminars with kids who basically want to work in film and television and write or act and do something creative. From our perspective, we used to sit in those chairs where you're wondering how the hell do you get from sitting here with these dreams and ambitions and how do you end up having it happen at all and come to fruition? That was really the best part of the whole trip.
JH: Are you all done with that tour?
DL: We may do a West Coast thing and we're trying to figure that out. At some point, though, it's weird. The show is dignified and the work is great. Ratings are outside of our control and at some point you just want to leave everything to the proceedings. We did what we were supposed to do and I think we did it well and we had a really tremendous connection and there was a reason why it felt like such a great job. It felt like it was a little better for a lot of reasons and it's intriguing why it's gone down the path that it has. I'll never understand nor know why... I felt like if we just leave it like a 650-page indie film that we shot it's still a really cool experience.
JH: You said you were surprised by the reaction on the road. I know you've been interacting on Twitter. How's the reaction been there?
DL: I got on Twitter because my friend said 'You have to do that!' I didn't have an account on there before but I will probably dump it now because it just becomes this insane thing. You feel like there's a lot of activity but I don't know if it's just among the small group that is into what you're into... it's a little bit of a distraction. Look at it this way, the thing is I'm on the late freight. I've never been good about what it's like to Twitter. People I know have hundreds of thousands of people following of them and I just started three weeks ago and I haven't tweeted much.
You need all that kind of representation in social media just to help people find it. The thing is a lot of general viewers just react to what they first see and if the title puts them off or whatever they'll spin off of it and never come back. They're not going to read a blog and they aren't reading Time Magazine or the New Yorker's articles about it [or] whether they're the Futon Critic or Surf Report or the different ones that really champion the show. Important people really did champion the show, which makes us feel very good. We felt like we were doing something that people would relate to and thank God they did. We're not crazy and we're proud of it.
JH: What would you like to tell fans about watching these coming episodes?
DL: The last few just get better. The train rolls towards the cliff really fast. We're just so proud of the show and we thank them for watching in any way. We're going to let other people talk superlatives about how good the show is but I doubt that they'll be disappointed if they get into it.
"Terriers" airs tonight on FX at 10:00/9:00c.