The Week In TV
It was mostly a slow news week in TV Land, aside from a few premieres (which I watched) and the return of pro football (which I barely remembered, then kindly changed the channel). This is the week that was:
• The premiere of FX's Terriers was a rock-solid pilot that continued FX's trend of smart series that mix action, drama, comedy, and a sense of lawlessness. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James are perfect together as a pair of unlicensed private eyes who aren't the brightest guys, but they're are also far from stupid.
Hank (Logue) is a recovering alcoholic and former cop trying to make ends meet and dealing with the bitter fallout from a painful divorce (and Logue played the hell out of the scene where he learns his ex is getting remarried), while Britt (Raymond-James) is an affable guy being dragged into adulthood by his girlfriend. They've got a real chemistry together, able to play off each other without feeling forced. That's going to go a long way to grounding the show, which this season will see them dealing with individual cases while also butting heads with the affluent land developer behind the killings in the first episode. Smart plotting, strong momentum, and complex, likeable characters at the center of it all; even though the fall season is just ramping up, Terriers is definitely one of the shows to watch. It airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. CT.
• Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television are taking a two-pronged approach to Stephen King's The Dark Tower, announcing last week that the seven-volume literary series will be adapted with a feature film trilogy and a TV series. The first film will be followed by TV episodes that bridge the story to the second film, after which the TV series picks up again and focuses on the main character of Roland as a younger man. Then the action comes to a head in the third and final film. It's an interesting approach to the material, but one that seems to ignore how good TV can be on its own. Ron Howard, who's directing the first film and first TV season, said that "the scope and scale call for a big-screen budget" but that the nuance and length of the story need the commitment TV can give. My question is: Why not put that budget toward TV, period? If he and others really believe that the story deserves the length of a TV series set to run two or three seasons, why act as if three theatrical films -- which will run maybe eight hours, maximum, all told -- are such a benefit?
Plus let's not kid ourselves: Ron Howard is not a good director. King's Dark Tower series is a mix of fantasy, western, sci-fi, romance, and horror (I know, it's a lot), and the last time Howard made a run at fantasy was 1988's Willow, perhaps the only thing more embarrassing to George Lucas than Jar-Jar Binks.