USA Network strikes again. They have rolled out another entertaining series with another likeable lead character in Necessary Roughness. Characters welcome, indeed.
Callie Thorne from Rescue Me is charming and fun, if not a bit on the ditzy side, as recently divorced psychotherapist Danni Santino. She has to deal with her unfamiliar singleness plus she has to cope with two teenage children who seem pretty normal to me. Santino also has a new job – working with the problems of professional football players and their egos.
Santino technically works for the team and their shadowy, yet unseen owner. She fiercely defends her patients’ confidentiality, even when threatened by the team henchman, Nico. Her main patient is a petulant, childish, selfish, troubled, highly paid, yet talented, wide receiver named Terrence “TK” King, played to the hilt by Mehcad Brooks. Viewers should really dislike TK but Brooks and the writers have shown us enough peaks into his fragile personality for us to be sympathetic. He has definite issues with boundaries that make me cringe but his blossoming friendship with Santino’s son is endearing.
A lot works with Necessary Roughness, namely Thorne, who has a history of playing quirky, if not downright crazy, characters. Here, she is sane but flighty and she shows us just enough quirkiness to keep us on our toes. Thorne has real chemistry with most of the actors on the program. Sexual tension is palpable with the team trainer, Matt Donnally, (Marc Blucas), as they struggle to ignore their mutual attraction because Santino is working with Donnally’s players. Thorne and the young actors who play her children also are believable as teenagers trying to test their boundaries with their suddenly single mother. She also has some great scenes with her best friend, Jeanette, played by the every perky Amanda Detmer. Thorne also works well with Brooks as her therapist works to solve his character’s many issues
There are a few things that don’t work. I could do without Santino’s mom. Grandma has a serious, life long gambling problem and she eavesdrops on her daughter’s sessions with her patients. I’m not a fan of the fact she still receives patients in her home. Get an office for crying out loud. She complains about TK’s relationship with her son yet doesn’t hold TK to her rules or move her office. Nico, the team “secret agent”, skulks around, gathering personal information on Santino and her family to use against her. This character seems unrealistic and is there just to manufacture conflict. I also think Santino needs to expand her patient base. The problems of football players and other athletes who work for the team owner are going to get old quick and it leaves Santino vulnerable relying one just menacing client.
These problems are fixable, probably in season two. The chemistry is terrific and Thorne is delightful. She really deserved a lead character of her own and this show, with a little tweaking, should join USA’s pantheon of enjoyable and entertaining programs. If only USA’s parent company, NBC, could match their success with good programming.
Necessary Roughness on USA on Wednesdays at 9pm CST
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