August 30, 2012



A very busy season of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS came to an end tonight with an unusually far-fetched hour.  The show isn’t exactly known for its hard-hitting realism, but this episode, written by series creators Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro, and directed by David Grossman, really piled on the melodramatic contrivances.

The main storyline continued the tale of Terrence King (Mehcad Brooks), the New York Hawks wide receiver who had drawn Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) into the world of sports therapy in the first place.  During the course of this summer season, TK has, among other things, been shot (twice), suffered from PTSD, become involved with a bogus guru, fired his agent, and become addicted to the kind of pain meds that make you genuinely forget that you’ve exposed yourself to a female reporter.  Tonight he was finally forced into rehab, not so much by the intervention launched by Dani and other team officials as by newly-minted Assistant General Manager Matt Donnelly (Marc Blucas) telling him that if he didn’t agree, he’d be cut from the team.  That, however, was just the beginning, as before long TK had escaped from the rehab facility with his new best friend, a genial record producer and addict (guest star Michael Imperioli)–on horses, yet!–and after drunken forays to the team’s training headquarters and Dani’s house, TK discovered what viewers expected:  that genial drug addict guest stars don’t have long stays on American series television.

Meanwhile, Hawks owner Marshall Pittman (played by Evan Handler in previous episodes), who had weirdly been bugging Dani’s home office, disappeared, putting team fixer Nico (Scott Cohen) into a tailspin that led to his traveling (Dani in tow, for no good reason) to the decrepit motel where a safe in the freezer contained Pittman’s escape package, including passports, money and a gun.  At the episode’s end, it turned out that Pittman really was dead, but not before he’d inexplicably sent all the therapy tapes back to Dani.  (This was after Pittman had, equally inexplicably, paid off Dani’s IRS debts that he shouldn’t have even known about.  Maybe Pittman was really Dani’s long-lost father?)  All this led to Dani and Nico having their first kiss, a moment that felt an awful lot like Necessary Roughness officially jumping its very own shark.  (Dani’s entire long-simmering romance with Matt had begun and ended in the course of the summer’s episodes–although probably not permanently.)

But wait, there’s more!  Dani doesn’t know it yet, but son Ray-Jay (Patrick Johnson) is under arrest for the pot plants he had in his car, except they weren’t really his, because he’d been letting his friend raise them in Dani’s garden as the quid pro quo for not putting up the fee to enter a fantasy football league, for which he was supposed to–but didn’t–provide inside information, and now he was on the way to the dump to throw the plants out…

Honestly:  even a light USA dramedy needs to have some relationship with reality, and this season Necessary Roughness rode off the rails.  The episodic plots weren’t any better, with such stories as a married mixed doubles tennis team whose compulsive swinging masked the fact that the wife no longer wanted to play (on the court) with her husband, and the video-gamer who hid in his loft because he had body dysmorphia.  And I haven’t even mentioned the return of Dani’s friend Jeanette (Amanda Detmer, free of the demands of her flop ABC sitcom Man Up), who made dumb pregnancy jokes for a few episodes until her hot baby daddy showed up to take her back to his tapas restaurant in Madrid.  Callie Thorne remains a very appealing lead, but there’s little else that’s watchable about the series these days.

Necessary Roughness will be back for the 2d half of its season later this year or in early 2013, but it’s probably on the bubble beyond that.  While its numbers have been OK, fairly steady at around 0.6 in 18-49s, it’s done no more than a fair job of holding on to its Royal Pains lead-in audience, losing 25-45% of that show’s viewers each week, and it certainly doesn’t seem strong enough to be a self-starter.  Sports metaphors being appropriate here, this is a show that needs some new coaching, because right now it’s not even playing like a contender.


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."