August 22, 2013



The renovations on Season 3 of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS worked out quite well.  The series jettisoned its original setting and much of its supporting cast, moving Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) from her job as in-house therapist to the NY Hawks football team to the high-powered V3 talent agency run by new regular (for this season, anyway) Connor McClane (John Stamos).  This made all kinds of sense. For one thing, Dani’s treatment of athletes (and sometimes entertainers) who weren’t Hawks players was much more organic than it had been in previous seasons, where some contrivance was always needed to bring a non-Hawk to her couch.  (Although the patient-of-the-week plots weren’t necessarily better than they’d been before.)  It also allowed series creators Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro to launch a new story of corporate intrigue to replace the tired machinations around the Hawks, with its various loony owners.  Nobody missed Dani’s kids, and key characters Nico (Scott Cohen) and TK (Mehcad Brooks) were along for the V3 ride.  The new job and higher salary for Dani also allowed for a somewhat glammed-up Callie Thorne, not a bad thing.

None of this put Necessary Roughness in a league with Suits, let alone the non-USA elite cable dramas (nor did it turn the show into a blockbuster hit), but it was an overall improvement nonetheless.  Tonight’s season finale, written by Kruger and Shapiro and directed by Shapiro, tied up most of the current storylines, some better than others.  We learned, to no one’s surprise, that V3’s secret was some high-tech Chinese growth hormone that it injected into its athletes, altering their DNA (in a best-case scenario, maybe it turned them into X-Men) and that Connor, who’d portrayed himself as a good guy all season, had along with his more obviously evil associate Troy Cutler (David Anders), been in it up to his neck.  Few actors on TV do smooth as well as Stamos, and he convincingly could have led the character either way in the end. It may have been Stamos’s uncertain status as a rent-a-star (he has a series in consideration at NBC) that led to the somewhat open-ended conclusion of his story, left to his own conscience by Dani after he obtained a minor-league job for a baseball player he’d victimized.

More satisfying was the close to the season’s TK story, with him finally dumping his no-good model fiancee Sheera (Kate Miner), beating his rotten former coach on the Hawks, and probably starting a romance with his nice physical therapist.  Thinking of romance, it was interesting that the show never pulled the trigger on a Dani/Connor hook-up through the course of the season, which would have been the obvious move with Stamos in the role.  Instead, the long-awaited (by some shippers) Dani/Nico romance got underway, complete with his finally starting to open up to her and a very rom-com last-minute hint that he’s been a tycoon all along.

With all the changes to Necessary Roughness, Kruger and Shapiro never lost sight of the fact that the show’s strongest asset is Thorne.   The role doesn’t take full advantage of her abilities, as viewers of Rescue Me know, but she brings a tartness and adult sexuality to the part that gives the series some life beyond its conventions.  It helped that this season made Dani less dithery and more consistently competent than previous years had done.

Necessary Roughness is a bubble show for USA, with ratings in the 0.6-0.7 range, but those numbers looked a bit better this year because they stayed consistent with last summer, while lead-in Royal Pains, still the stronger show in the ratings, faltered a bit this year (down 0.1-0.2).  It’s not entirely clear where the show would go in a Season 4, since Stamos may not return, and either V3 would go away (in the show, it was left in the care of Autumn Reeser’s recurring character Abby, who’s had little interaction with Dani this season), or the producers would have to come up with a new scheme.  The success of this season suggests that they could deal with that, and the show could profitably go forward, although probably without much potential for ratings growth.  As with all free agents, the fate of Necessary Roughness will depend on the market.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."