‘Necessary Roughness’ Pilot Recap: “There’s No Playbook for This”

The USA Network has been pretty ambitious this year. Hot on the heels of its promising new legal drama ‘Suits‘, the cable net also premiered another new series called ‘Necessary Roughness’ last week. I don’t know that this one is quite a touchdown just yet, but it has potential.

The show is a starring vehicle for Callie Thorne (crazy Sheila on ‘Rescue Me’). Thorne plays Dani, a psychologist whose own personal life is falling apart. (Isn’t that always the way?) When she discovers that her husband’s been cheating on her with multiple women, Dani throws him out and files for divorce. In his defense, the husband is played by Craig Bierko, so Dani should have known that he’d be a cheating bastard. That’s the only role Bierko knows how to play.

When the husband freezes her assets, Dani has to solicit for new clients to make ends meet. A one-night-stand with a studly trainer for the local pro football team (Marc Blucas from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’) leads to an opportunity that could mean big money. Really big money. The team’s star wide receiver (Mehcad Brooks from ‘True Blood’) has serious anger issues and has been playing bad boy in the press. More importantly, he’s been fumbling the ball far too much on the playing field. If Dani can “fix” him, she might earn a position as the team counselor. Of course, this turns out to be a lot harder than it would seem at first. The player (“TK”) doesn’t want to be fixed, and the team owner expects immediate results.

Side stories include a burgeoning romance with the trainer, Matthew, which Dani has to put on the back burner if they’re going to work together. Her teenager daughter’s a truant and perpetual screw-up who won’t listen to Dani. Her ex-husband hires a P.I. to snoop on her. Her mother also has a gambling problem, and tries to use Dani’s relationship with the team to get some insider info. These are a lot of balls in the air to juggle all at once.

The ‘Pilot’ episode is decent enough, but some of the writing is too simplistic. The solution to the main plotline is really pat. TK has dead mommy issues, and has a sudden turnaround when Dani brings him to his mother’s grave to let his anger out. Likewise, her daughter starts to clean up her act for reasons that are far too convenient. It also bugs me that Dani is big into hypnotherapy, which will no doubt serve as a bullshit excuse for her clients to have miraculous breakthroughs in no time at all.

With that said, all of USA’s shows are primarily character-driven, and Dani is an interesting enough character. Thorne is a very appealing actress who knows how to play feisty with bits of crazy that break through the surface.

Scenes from future episodes suggest that Dani will take on more clients than just the football team. That should be a good opportunity to see her interact with a wider range of people and get into crazy situations. I’m willing to give this show a shot for a little while and see how it develops.

1 comment

  1. lordbowler

    I caught the pilot and enjoyed it. I liked Callie Thorne. Craig Bierko and Marc Blucas are good actors, Blucas known from Buffy.

    I also recognized the Coach and the Fixer (Wolfie from The 10th Kingdom) actors. Well casted.

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