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Why did FX cancel Terriers? It seems like an easy enough question to answer — after rough ratings on the series premiere that only declined as the season progressed, some have called Terriers a victim of bad marketing. But creator Ted Griffen feels that the reasons for euthanizing his critically acclaimed series are less tangible than that.
“I think marketing, like TV show making, is an inexact science,” he told HitFix. “You can conjecture whether it was the title or the poster of the lack of a high concept to the very idea of the show that failed to hook an initial audience. That was our sole failure: hooking an initial audience. We launched horribly. That’s my heartbreak. Given that it’s television, I had hoped we would have more time than a movie does for word of mouth to take over. We got great word of mouth, but it didn’t come on strong like I hoped it would. I can’t blame an audience. I’ve never in my life watched a TV show in its first season. I always have to wait several seasons for someone to say, ‘You have to see this.’ That’s how I discovered The Wire and The Shield. I don’t know the secret to getting people to watch a show in its first season.”
Griffen wouldn’t lay the blame on FX executives, either, describing a peaceful last meeting with network president John Landgraf, an outspoken supporter of the show, despite its awful ratings.
“I don’t think this thing would’ve been nearly as good were it not John Landgraf,” he said. “We all had the same dog being put down. He went through [the reasons for cancellation] in a lot of detail. My proudest moment was I said, ‘It’s fine by me if we stop doing the autopsy and start doing the wake.’ He was showing how the pulse was dead, it wasn’t breathing… It was the most amicable breakup of my life.”
“It’s like putting a dog down,” he summarized of the experience of losing Terriers. “I knew it was limping, I knew it wasn’t in good health, but it was still really tough to euthanize it. But in dog years, our show lasted seven seasons.”
Check out the full interview for more from Griffen, including how he would have tied up some of the show’s loose ends in future seasons, and make sure to read Kevin Melrose’s own eulogy of a great show that was canceled far too soon.