I simply had to have an impulsive decision before the year ends, eh? Coming from another USA Network hit with me in the form of Suits, along with White Collar, Covert Affairs and Burn Notice, I decided to check out USA Network’s other shows. I readily downloaded the pilot episode of Necessary Roughness even if the download was slow just to see if USA Network is mah network. All I knew was that it’s about a divorcee therapist doing some tough love therapy. Premise looks okay, I know no one in the cast and I had faith with USA Network. So what’s the verdict? Read on. (Hee. You think I won’t make you work for it? Haha!)
We start with a life-is-like-football analogy voiceover with an actual football game in the reel. That there are winners, losers, superstars but that how much protective gear you wear, you’re gonna get the living crap kicked out of you at some point. And that day, was the persona’s turn.
We meet Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), mother of two problematic kids, Lindsay (Hannah Marks) and Ray Jay (Patrick Johnson). She’s a psychologist who uses hypnotherapy in her sessions. With her voice-over during the hypnosis, we see how she discovers that her husband’s cheating (the guestroom’s bed sheets are done like hospital corners, not box pleats which is how she does it and that the pillows are not as she fixes it and the telltale sexy pictures on the phone) and throws his clothes from the window and asks for a divorce.
Six weeks later, a clown goes up her doorway and serves her some divorce papers, where she gets her neck pinched. Apparently, her husband Ray is contesting the divorce and her irritating mother tells her to get back together if she’s so irked that Ray has cut off the credit cards and closed the bank accounts. “You are the second reason I need to change the locks.” Attagirl, Dani! Ha!
And definitely one of the things I love about USA Network shows, the transition scenes of the city. Dani drinks in a bar with her bestfriend Jeanette (Amanda Detmer) when Matthew (Marc Blucas) hits on her from across the room. Jeanette leaves them and Dani lays it on him that she’s six weeks separated and that even if he’s a football trainer, it’s not gonna work because she’s not interested in sports. She sends a message that she’s not interested in whatever but Matthew insists on massaging that pinched nerve and we now know where this will end.
Cut to Dani waking up in Matthew’s bed. Ooohhh, who’s even surprised? She gets to leave but Matthew comes and she explains that this is it and that she’s not this. Matthew gets a call from his Coach and he shares how this player is so good on paper but misses passes and fumbles for the ball. She suggests that maybe his guys need therapy and she introduces herself professionally. Matthew tells her that he’s been trying to quit smoking so maybe she can try treating him. There goes the therapy.
The walk of shame. Or the drive of shame. Dani goes home and Ray and their kids welcome her at the garage. Ray Jay, the smart guy he is, asks what Mom is wearing. Haha! Ray says he wants to get back together but sassy Dani doesn’t wanna hear any of it.
Ray: I made a mistake, okay? I’m sorry.
Dani: You banged half a dozen women, Ray. That’s not a mistake. That is a way of life.
You go smartass Dani!
She meets with a lawyer and she’s basically told that her box pleats vs hospital corners won’t be enough evidence for the court and that she needs to hire a private investigator to find some evidence to back her up in the divorce case.
Jeanette basically acts as her pimp and recommends her to plausible customers. Dani is frustrated that she can’t even afford having a divorce when Matthew calls her and asks her to come to the football field. Matthew brings her to an office and she assumes he wants some and readily takes off her jacket when she hears another voice in the room. It’s Coach Purnell, Matthew’s boss. *I am so ashamed for her!*
Coach shows her a reel of Terrence King (Mehcad Brooks) and how this multimillion dollar asset can’t even catch passes for times in a row. She asks them what methods had they tried and they tell her they tried EVERYTHING there is and that nothing works. Coach asks her why he should hire her, when she’s just a Hofstra graduate when a Harvard graduate gave up on TK. She basically puts Coach in his place and puts on the sass – that she was accepted in NYU and Columbia for their doctorate programs but had to turn them down because she has two children to carpool. Oh better yet, I should just quote her. This girl got lots of sass and I love watching her!
“I’m a licensed therapist, hypnotherapist, and substance-abuse counselor. I was accepted both by NYU and Columbia into their doctorate programs, but declined because I had two small children to carpool and a husband who expected dinner on the table every night. My specialties include chicken parmesan, cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, and kicking my patients’ butts. Beyond that, if you would like a money-back guarantee, then you should go buy a washing machine.”
I knew I’d love this girl from the get-go!
Coach hands her a big fat check and gives her two weeks to set TK straight. She goes home and does her homework, googling TK. When TK’s coming to her house, which also serves as her office, her kids who are total fans, wait by the door to see TK. She shoos them away, ha! TK comes and sets her down that he’s not talking with her cause she ain’t got a talk show. She drops the bomb that it was Coach who hired her and that makes Terrence listen and go inside her office.
She starts therapy by laying down the ground rules and basically, they don’t go anywhere. Terrence doesn’t want her help and even laughs at the mention of hypnosis. She makes him go under hypnotherapy by saying that he ain’t need to do it if he’s afraid. That touches Terrence’s pride and ego and so he goes.
The backstory on the whole can’t-catch-balls as Terrence narrates while he’s under hypnosis: He’s taking a dump and there’s no tissue paper so he asks his homey to pass him some tissue paper. He wasn’t able to catch it and it rolls out of his cubicle. Now every time he sees the ball, he thinks of it as tissue paper and he misses. I LOLed at this, sorry! Dani tells TK that he’s to think that the ball’s a baby from now on and that he’s gonna catch his baby and protect it. The therapy ends and Dani spots a guy in a car in front of her house and questions him. He’s Nico who works for the team. She tells him that whatever happens must remain confidential and he quips that she should tell that to her kids. She sees her kids watching everything. She goes upstairs to Lindsay’s room and sees crumpled notes from school.
Cut to a meeting with the guidance counselor. Lindsay’s been absent left and right and when Dani looks like she’s gonna reprimand her, she brings on the tears about how the divorce is so hard on her to gain the sympathy and pity of the counselor. Scheming girl there huh. While outside, Dani calls her out on her act and reprimands her.
Dani and Matthew are on a date and Matthew wants to take it a step further but Dani says they can’t because they have a professional relationship now and until TK is her patient, nothing’s gonna happen between them. They clink their glasses with the deal that when TK’s fine, they can finally date.
Dani and Jeanette watch the game and TK…fails to catch the ball. TK now goes in a club and some a-hole provokes him, leading Terrence to slap the guy’s phone in his face. Serves him right, in my opinion.
Dani is with a patient and Nico knocks on her office door, telling her that TK’s here. Oh no, not yet when his appointment is for another two hours. She knows she doesn’t have a choice since she’s been paid already so she rushes her current patient’s time and even turns the clock forward so it seems that her time’s done. Sneaky Dani, love it!
She catches TK playing virtual football with Ray Jay and even gives him some advice. They’re so bromantic, I love it heehee. Dani lectures her on only showing on time for his appointment, not before and not after. She pushes his buttons and he lashes out about his mother and trashes her office. She doesn’t back down and TK walks out.
She gets called by Matthew and Coach and they tell her that TK has disappeared. Coach wants to know what she told TK for this to happen and she lectures them on ethics and that she’s under oath not to disclose whatever her clients tells her. They have a shoutdown when Lindsay’s guidance counselor calls and she coolly transforms to calm mother in a blink of an eye. Haha!
Here we go again at the guidance counselor. Lindsay cuts PE and is now assigned with an escort to send her to every class. Lindsay is obviously against this since it’s embarrassing but she can’t make Dani change her decision. Just right.
And since Dani can’t get stressed enough, a divorce meeting! Ray isn’t contesting the divorce anymore but Dani’s not getting anything since Ray declared that with the economic downturn, he ain’t got money that is. And that Ray’s asking for full custody at court. Gah, I hate a-hole husbands who ask for full custody just because they don’t wanna pay for child support. Dani confronts Ray in the men’s bathroom and she throws the credit cards at the toilet and threatens to kill Ray if he gets her children and that she doesn’t need his money. Gahd, I love her.
She wakes up to Nico at 3AM telling her to go pick up TK because there’s a game in 72 hours and he won’t answer his phone. She declines but he says that she doesn’t actually have a choice and that she shouldn’t worry about her kids because there’s Xeno, an ex-special forces to watch over the kids. She rides the car and sees the private eye Ray hired to spy on her and she asks Nico to let her out. Nico tells her that just go convince TK to go home and he’ll take care of that pesty man. She has no choice but go to Atlantic City…on a helicopter. Woooah!
She goes to a strip club and uses her smarts to get the bartender tell her where TK is. She also meets a stripper who works there to earn more for her children. It somehow rings a bell with her, the working hard to the bone for the kids. She basically takes her anger out on the door while screaming for TK to go open the door. She gets to come in after some time and TK mocks her. They do get to a certain understanding when TK asks her if she’s mad with her dog husband (which he learned from bonding with Ray Jay) and she answers that she’s so mad. He asks how can she stop being so mad and she answers forgiveness. She thinks TK’s gonna come with him but TK just pays her. She leaves the money and goes home to her kids. Xeno tells her the kids are still asleep and that he made some banana pancakes. She just sighs and eats those damn delicious pancakes on her porch.
Dani and Matthew talk and he assures her that TK’s a trainwreck even before she came so she shouldn’t kick herself over it. She tells him she’ll contact them if she hears from TK.
Dani and her mom watch Ray Jay’s football game and she gets a call from TK asking her to turn around. He’s just there! Haha! He tells her that she’s ready for forgiveness and asks her if she could drive him to Newark, since he got some DUI’s and can’t drive. She leaves Ray Jay’s game and her mom just sighs knowingly.
They drive to his mom’s grave and Terrence just breaks down there (in a manly Mehcad Brooks way by the way). And the reason why I decided to watch this is to get some advice in life and quotable quotes and I get one here. Dani says,
“I know what it’s like to finally have something worth having, to believe, deep down, in a place that you never look, that you don’t deserve it. But our pain is our fuel. People like us either kick ass or get our asses kicked. But the choice is ours. Nobody defines our worth unless we let them.”
She goes home with a police car parked in her house and Ray Jay outside. Lindsay apparently took the speaker off a McDonad’s drive-thru box. And that she’s driving without a license, with a car she doesn’t own (Ray Jay’s car). Ooohh, a court date. I’m sure this won’t go well. Dani removes her heels and prepares to go all-out war with Lindsay when Smartypants Ray Jay says some psychology stuff and I love it!
Ray Jay: Now, ma, think twice before doing anything crazy. Judges frown on parents killing their kids.
Dani: And you. What are you, the town crier? You blabbing my business to everybody?!
Ray Jay: Well, teenagers feel a loss of support as a result of divorce and turn outwards to fill that gap.
Dani: Please stop reading my psychology books, okay, because you definitely don’t understand them!
Dani grounds Lindsay and they fight. Lindsay brings up the divorce and how she’s like this because she had Dani as her role model. Dani almost hits Lindsay when her mom sees this and stops her. Her mom tells her that maybe “Before you start fixing everyone else’s car, maybe you should fix the one broken down in your own backyard”.
Dani gets a box full of Hawks items (jerseys and all that) and four tickets to the game in the 50-yard line from Coach Purnell. She doesn’t want to go and tells Jeanette how her mom told her to fix her family first before others and that she almost hit Lindsay. She tells Jeanette that maybe she’ll quit and Lindsay overhears it all. Ray Jay sees the package and the tickets and tells his mom that there’s no way in hell they’re not watching. Haha! Have I said it already that Ray Jay is cute? Not yet? How come!
They watch the game and Ray Jay almost gets into a fight when a man shouts that TK sucks. Dani psychoanalyzes him and makes him cheer for TK, haha! TK’s not yet playing and everyone’s wondering if he’s ever gonna leave the bench. And then goes his chance and he… CATCHES THE BALL AND TOUCHDOWN BABY.
Everyone rejoices and TK looks like he’s cradling a baby with the ball haha! He gets interviewed on how he’s suddenly able to catch the ball after eight drops and he says he got therapy and they just chuckle at his answer.
Dani and company go out of the stadium. It’s time for Nico to blackmail the private eye! He offers tickets for the rest of the season’s game in exchange of his disappearance or else he’ll give his wife photos of him having an affair. You go, Nico!
Dani and Matthew catch up and Dani tells him that even though TK caught the ball today, he still has a lot of issues to work on and Matthew drops that that’s why TK’s agreed to see her twice a week. He also tells her that they wanna send more clients to her if she’s up to it. She’s planning to tell her that she’s gonna quit but she gets a text from Lindsay who watches them from afar not to quit and so she accepts the job and he gives her an ID. They’re a wee bit sad that they still can’t date but they part in a light note with a peck on the cheek from Matthew.
So I’ll just dissect the pilot into what I think are the strengths and the weaknesses of the show, ‘kay?
The characters! Everyone is amazing. Dani is all sorts of likeable and endearing. She stands up for herself and for her kids and I really like plucky heroines. She didn’t spend time wallowing about her 17 years of marriage down the drain but she fights right back and doesn’t allow Ray to trample all over her. She calls the shots in her own life and I like characters like that. I don’t like chess-piece characters, I want a heroine who stands for herself. As for Callie Thorne’s portrayal, it’s believable. The stand-up-for-myself yet I-can-go-crazy-and-I’ll-fight-whoever mom, she’s awesome. As for the other characters, Mehcad Brooks as TK was good and he nailed the manly tears! Well, Mehcad Brooks is awesome so that’s a given I guess. I should say that I am more interested in Dani and Nico’s future relationship, whether it is romantic or platonic, than her and Matthew’s. As for the kids, I find Lindsay slightly annoying but maybe that’s just because I sorta don’t like characters like hers but she has shown a good side so she’s still in my favor. And since Ray Jay is such a smartypants with a bromance with TK and that he’s cute, a big check mark haha! And I think in every story, the divorcee always has that friend who’s promiscuous and all and that’s Jeanette.
I actually like the music which I mostly like in USA Network shows so there. USA Network loves 90-minute (with commercials) pilot episodes and even if the premise of Necessary Roughness sounds boring on paper, I was never bored in the one hour total I watched the show. Granted I was pausing here and there to make some blogposts, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of fast-forwarding it. So since I’ve touched a little about the plot, let’s now go down to the weaknesses of the show.
Its episodic nature. So what’s gonna happen? A client pops in and he/she undergoes therapy and in 40 minutes airtime, that guy’s healed? Oh, hell to the nah. It doesn’t happen that easily! It was a nice touch that TK’s gonna come back for more sessions but he’s a regular cast member. So the guest stars, are they just gonna appear for one episode as a patient then leave as fast as they came when they’re healed? It would be nice if a patient has a multi-episodic arc but I guess I know why that won’t happen because it’ll make things boring.
Why am I gonna keep watching this? That’s another question the show didn’t answer for me. There’s no backstory, there’s no mystery. I know she has her divorce case to handle, her new love life, her kids, her life, along with the weekly cases but I think that’s something I’ve seen before and something I know right off the bat what’s gonna happen. She’s probably gonna win custody and even if she doesn’t then maybe that’s the plot for the next season. A love triangle can ensue, I dunno. Point is, even my little crush on Ray Jay isn’t enough to make me wanna download the remaining episodes and marathon this baby. It just doesn’t reach the bar for me. It’s good, yeah, I mean if I have nothing to watch, I’d definitely watch this show rather than watch nothing. But if I have other shows aside from this, I’m not gonna watch this. White Collar had the Kate mystery in Season 1, Burn Notice had the government conspiracy angle, Covert Affairs had the Arthur and Ben plot, heck, 2 Broke Girls of CBS has a goal. So what’s the goal here? Why would I continue watching? I know USA Network prides itself in character-driven shows but even with a great character, I think a goal is still needed.
Plus, it wasn’t renewed right away so maybe that’s saying something? I am not sure about all of these, these are all just maybes and guesses but even with excellent ratings as I read, it wasn’t as reviewed highly such as Suits.
So here goes my verdict: No. Not continuing with it unless I hear that it suddenly became awesome and if my friends are watching this and recommending this. Sadly for me, this disproves that I’m gonna love every USA Network show. (I desperately wanted that to be true.)
(Where did my 3 hours go? 1000 words per hour? Sigh.)