Terriers is gone. That much we know. I’ve read a lot of online statements, ponderings and criticisms about just why the show failed to find its audience, particularly from the AVClub.com branch of the Onion. They’ve done some fine reporting of facts and offered many speculations but the chief one I don’t really get is the deriding of the name of the show.
I think that the name of the program, Terriers, may represent why the show didn’t catch on but it is not the problem in itself. One of the earliest things that drew me into the show was its title. What does it mean? Who are the eponymous Terriers? I wanted to know. I thought of the title as a challenge and a mark of confidence on the creators’ part. They didn’t need to tell me what it was so much as dare me to figure that out. I also missed out on the truly terrible advertising campaign, though. I just saw the thing on Hulu.com one day and checked into it. Once I saw Donal Logue I had a good feeling about it. Once I actually finished the pilot I was hooked.
But, as I said, it is gone. The network has caught flack, and its president, though I thought it was pretty brave of him to step out in front and say that they tried and it just didn’t catch on. You can blame the title, you can blame the lousy advertising, you can blame the network, but none of that is the real truth. This is another case of the viewing public getting the television it deserves. Farewell, Terriers, and thanks for the brief moment. I’m sure we’ll see you again on whatever the next version of Brilliant but Cancelled turns out to be.
I’m constantly astounded that Ricky Gervais can be so brilliant at creating television but brings so much banality to feature filmmaking. He seems to be incapable of catching that same originality that drew viewers to The Office for more than 30 minutes at a time, save The Invention of Lying, which held out for 60 before limping to its end. Much of his latest feature project, Cemetery Junction, too, is a fairly pointless exercise in predictability.
It starts and remains every working class coming of age story of the past few decades. A young man in blue collar England wants to escape the drudgery of his life and the toil of his future. This one even comes with the prerequisite childhood friends who embarrass him and hold him back at the right moments. He turns to life insurance sales and is, of course, smitten with the boss’s daughter. She, of course, is betrothed to the company overachiever, who also happens to be its resident dickhead. Of course. Cemetery Junction hits all the right beats in order. I’ll give it that.
It fails to provide much of a reason to care about any of these characters for the first 75 minutes, though. The two friends eventually find their parts fleshed out enough at that point and have a few minutes, the best of the film, to shine. The young man figures out that money isn’t everything, of course, and gets the girl in the end. Don’t even try to call that a spoiler. His shining moment, though, is genuine and unique. He argues that if the girl marries what is essentially her father, she will turn into essentially her mother. I found that refreshingly honest and grounded as movie arguments to break an engagement go. And the mother’s own reaction gave her character a point to exist. The finale of the movie, though, goes right back into the rut it started in, dragging the film full circle.
While this may sound very negative, there’s actually nothing wrong with this film. It does everything reasonably well if not excellently. The acting is good, the setting is perfectly dreary and the writing is acceptable if lacking ambition. The movie in general lacks a voice. Even the music, while great songs individually, feels like a Best Of culled from other coming of age films. This film treads some very well worn ground but seems perfectly content to follow the grooves without branching off on its own path at all. 2 stars