Sunday, June 26, 2011

Necessary Roughness - 1.01 - Pilot - Preview

Necessary Roughness airs on Wednesdays at 10/9C on USA Network after Royal Pains. This Wednesday is the premiere.

OK, I admit it. When I first heard the Necessary Roughness synopsis, it didn't grab me. It boiled down to shrink deals with celebrities and quite frankly, I'm sick of celebrity shenanigans. I was marginally interested that it was on USA Network because they have great character shows. However, what made me watch the premiere is Callie Thorne. I loved her on Burn Notice where she played Fiona's foe, Natalie. Yes, it was only a 2 episode part but she was that good. I also found her wildly entertaining on her one-shot White Collar role. I wanted to see if she could play good as fascinatingly as she plays bad. (No, I don't watch Rescue Me but I hear she was quite the psychotic in it too.) In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by Necessary Roughness and will watch the second episode.

The USA Network summarizes the show best: Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) is a Long Island psychotherapist whose personal life unravels when she finds her husband cheating. Diving fully into her work, she takes on the challenge of rehabbing a bad boy professional football player (Mehcad Brooks) whose off-the-field antics threaten his career and the team franchise. Underestimated at every turn, she succeeds beyond expectations and soon finds herself as the most sought-after therapist for high-profile clients. Athletes, entertainers, politicians and others living in the spotlight clamor for her unique brand of tough love therapy during their moments of crisis. Although her career is reenergized, it wreaks havoc on her life as a newly minted single mom of two teenagers. Recognizing her ability to change people’s lives, she’s determined to strike a balance between both worlds.

What they don't say is that Dr. Dani is more interesting than expected and the secondary characters make the show. A voiceover kicks us off, explaining the life philosophy of Dani's father. "…life is like a football game. There's winners and there's losers. There's grinders in the trenches and superstars. No matter who you are, no matter how much protective gear you wear, at some point you're going to get the living c*** kicked out of you." Dani: "And today was my turn." And that's the end of football in the episode except tangentially. If you thought sports drama, it's more a drama that has sports in it.

At first glance, Dr. Dani is the 21st century version of Donna Reed. Her house is Martha Stewart perfect, she makes breakfast for her teens, and doesn't complain about her husband's late hours. She does it all. Until she speaks and Donna Reed flies out the window. Questioning her daughter's wardrobe choice, she declares, "When you are making a living as a hooker, then you can dig this out of storage." BWAH! Not 5 minutes in and she already makes me laugh. Sadly for her though, she notices the pillows are wrong in the guest room and the dominoes fall until it's pictures of half naked women on her husband's cell phone. Bye bye suburban dream, hello divorce and single motherhood.

Enter the secondary characters who in typical USA fashion sometimes overshadow the lead. (Think Mozzie on White Collar). There's the honest best friend Jeanette who encourages Dani to get through divorce via sex. She leads to Matthew, a pro football trainer who is literally the right guy for a pain in the neck. Their one-night stand brings Max, the mysterious team Fixer. I'm not sure what a Fixer does but he's slightly sinister and effective. Add in a son with multiple girlfriends like dear old dad, a rebellious (and whiny) daughter, and a hardcore gambler mom who uses Tiger Woods as a morality standard. Top everything off with some wacky clients and you've got USA Network summer fun.

This is a show where a professional football career is threatened by toilet paper, a marriage by box pleats, and a teen by counselor-inspired social humiliation. Oh, and clowns and private eyes both suck. It's a delightful mix of comedy, drama, and quirky characters that caught my attention. The key will be keeping those characters enjoyable because the show is if they become annoying. It has already worked a minor miracle for me. It made Marc Blucas (formerly Riley Finn from Buffy) and Scott Cohen (formerly Max Medina on Gilmore Girls) interesting. I particularly love Cohen's role so far.

Best line - "$200 bucks an hour? For a private eye? Yeah well, now I know why you guys are called d***."
Best mystery - What is a Fixer?
Character in most need of an overhaul - Lindsay Santino
Character with the biggest chance of being the Mozzie - Angela Santino
Character who needs more than 2 minutes of screen time - tie between Jeanette and Xeno
Best reason to watch this Wednesday - Callie Thorne and Scott Cohen

Necessary Roughness premieres this Wednesday, June 29 at 10/9C on USA Network. Can't wait to hear your reaction.

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