In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, USA Network. Available on USANetwork.com
What is the secret of good drama? It's a question that writers have been searching for, ever since the creation of theatre. Everyone from Aristotle onwards has had their own theory.
'A compelling story' is one of the usual requirements: the viewer/reader/audience have to engage with the story and want to know more.
Which, I think, is the biggest problem with Necessary Roughness, in which Callie Thorne of Rescue Me plays a therapist who bumps into Marc Blucas of Buffy fame on a girls' night out. Blucas turns out to be a trainer for a professional football team and after Thorne cures him of his smoking addiction, Blucas thinks she might be able to help him fix the psychological problems that are holding back his team members - including one very expensive ball-dropper in particular.
And while it's all executed well enough, the question that lingers over the whole enterprise is "Why are you telling me this story?"
Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) seems to have it all figured out: she's got a beautiful home, a successful husband, two great kids, and a satisfying career as a psychotherapist. But when she catches her husband cheating, Dani's perfect world begins to unravel, and she is forced to find a way to keep her family, her finances and her sanity intact. Luckily, a chance encounter with the trainer of the local pro football team offers Dani a chance to show off her counseling skills, and before she can say "Hail Mary," Dani has taken on the team's star wide receiver as a patient and become the most sought-after therapist on Long Island.
Now, high-profile clients from athletes to entertainers to politicians are clamoring for Dani's unique brand of therapy during their moments of crisis. But though her career is reenergized, Dani soon discovers that balancing her workload and the new demands of single motherhood won't be easy. With two teenage kids driving her crazy, an obnoxious ex-husband stirring up trouble, and desperate patients constantly showing up on her doorstep, one thing's for sure: from here on out, Dani's going to have plenty of issues to tackle.
Is it any good?
There's nothing hugely to complain about. No one's going to be winning awards for acting, dialogue, plotting, production values or anything else here. But neither are they going to be getting rotten tomatoes because everything's reasonably serviceable. Thorne, while occasionally slipping into comedy when she shouldn't, is a charismatic enough lead; Blucas is his steady, regular decent Joe self.
It's just there's not a lot here that's new and you won't have seen before - and what is new is largely laughable. So Thorne discovers her husband cheating (yep, seen that), has problems with her teenage children once she's separated (check), her ex-husband turns out to be a dick (check) and her mother is already a dick (check). There's even the ubiquitous sports stars in strip clubs. Been there, done that, bought the box sets, as they say.
What is new is the sports psychology angle, which is where it all falls apart. A session of hypnotherapy and a trip to a mother's gravestone is all it takes to help a failing receiver to catch a ball again? I don't think so.
So while the insights into the vast amounts of cash professional sports can generate and what it gets spent on is at least moderately interesting, and the Blucas/Thorne romance is actually rather sweet and endearing, there's nothing really here that makes you think, yes, I want to spend an hour a week with this show. It's okay, but it's essentially visual bubblegum in which well worn plotlines get worn down even more.
I'll watch for a couple more episodes to see if it gets better, but at the moment, I'm not recommending it.
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