Friday, July 1, 2011

Necessary Roughness - "Pilot"

Necessary Roughness Sneak Peek [HD]     USA's newest drama is Necessary Roughness, which premiered this Wednesday night. The central character in the pilot is therapist Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne, Rescue Me, The Wire), who, as soon as the series starts, learns that her husband of seventeen years, Ray (Craig Bierko, Boston Legal, Damages) has been cheating on her... a lot. She dumps him, and six weeks later, while still pursuing her divorce, she meets Matthew (Marc Blucas, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). They fall into bed, but their relationship changes dramatically when Matthew introduces Dani to his boss, a football coach. Dani is asked to help a star player who has been faltering named T.K. (Mehcad Brooks, True Blood, Desperate Housewives). Because they are now working together, Dani tells Matthew they can't have a sexual relationship. Dani helps TK, and she is asked to take on more clients.

     Necessary Roughness does, admittedly, break the formula that USA had become mired in, as many of their newer shows do. That is the best compliment it can be paid, because other than that, the "Pilot" does not impress. Thorne herself is grating, and less than likeable. That's not an excuse for her character's husband to cheat on her, of course, as she claims to have been the "perfect wife and mother," but that self-made claim rings hollow as her husband and kids lie to her. Did she ever really have a handle on what is going on in her household? She seems to have her own set of morals and codes, which are abstract and have a shifting morality line.

     Dani's quick "miracle" with TK is much less than realistic. Considering that is the biggest premise in the first episode, it should have been handled better. Sure, it takes Dani days, maybe even a couple of weeks, to get through to TK. But she does, and now all is right with the world. It's strange that TK is a main character, since previews show Dani working with a number of other patients, mostly athletes, many of them not part of the football team. It is unknown at this time what exactly the structure of the show will be, but other than Dani, the other main characters all connected to one football organization. This makes the trailer confusing.

     Besides Dani, TK, and Matthew, Nico (Scott Cohen, Law & Order: Trail By Jury, Gilmore Girls) is the other member of the main cast. He is a guy who "takes care of things" for the football team. His mystery, which, of course, has the violent underpinnings, is what makes him interesting. And while similar characters have been done numerous times before, they've seldom been as intriguing as Cohen, who radiates the necessary "it." If Necessary Roughness is to be interesting in the long term, the greatest chance lies with focus, but not too much detail, on Nico. Audiences should be kept guessing his motivations and his actual actions, but he needs to have a hand in everything.

     Brooks also handles his part with relative ease. He is, after all, a veteran of a number of fine television shows, and knows how to capture an essence by now. Even if his plot falls a little flat, it's not to be blamed on the actor. Blucas has grown a lot since Buffy, and also is an acceptable performer, though isn't given a lot to work with. Not sure why his character puts up with Dani's no sex rule, the reasoning behind it being weak, at best. Matthew needs to grow a little backbone to rise from flat, straight, supporting, mostly silent man. Otherwise, there's not much of a reason to keep him around.

     To see if Necessary Roughness progresses anywhere after its "Pilot," tune in on USA Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET.

     If you missed "Pilot," you can get it streaming for free by clicking here.

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