In the public autopsy of recently canceled FX series Terriers, there seemed to be one agreed-upon cause of death: The network’s baffling promotional campaign—namely billboard and Internet ads featuring stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James relegated to the background behind a teeth-baring terrier with a bone-bedecked business card locked in his jaws. Thanks to that very literal translation of the title, after all, anyone unfamiliar with show would be forgiven for thinking Terriers was about, say, two down-on-their-luck dudes who start a dog-walking service (or dog-fighting ring), and thus play second-string humans to a series of animal-related misadventures. Also not helping matters: that title, which (pleasant Bruce McCulloch associations aside) says absolutely nothing.
Not so, says FX president John Landgraf, who spoke with reporters yesterday in the wake of the show’s cancellation and—while noting that even if the show had doubled its numbers, it still would have been the network’s lowest-rated freshman series ever—averred that no one should be blaming his marketing department, saying, “If I objectively believed that the reason the show didn’t launch was that we failed to tell viewers what it was about—a scruffy buddy detective show—that we had convinced them that the show was about dog fighting, I would've picked it up.”
Landgraf also deflected by pointing out that those canine-centric billboards ran only in New York and L.A.—although he seemed to overlook the fact that they were omnipresent on the Internet (including this very site), as well as the fact that their earliest commercials primarily featured small dogs wandering the street to the tune of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Down Boy Down.” The Discovery Channel has run more nuanced promos for Shark Week, that’s all we’re saying.
Still, according to Landgraf, a study with 600 people unfamiliar with Terriers found that those promos “represented the show extremely well and explained very well what it was about”—which is bizarre, considering we’ve seen the show and we still couldn’t explain the dog obsession or that off-putting, ambiguous title. Landgraf does concede that had the show made it to a second season, the network likely would have instituted a slight name change to the “more descriptive” Terriers: PI—which actually makes it sound like a show about crime-solving dogs, investigating and solving dog-related crimes, so that’s hardly an improvement.
UPDATE: FX has asked us to clarify that there were, indeed, promos for the Terriers that delved deeper into the show and its characters. According to the network, they comprised "100 percent of our off-network TV buy and 80 percent of FX on-air." Here's one of those: