Review: USA's 'Necessary Roughness'

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USA's Necessary Roughness

USA Network takes a run at the sports-drama genre with Necessary Roughness. Unlike the silly 1990s college football-themed film of the same name, USA offers a more dramatic and character- driven take on an off-the-field football storyline.

The series' protagonist is Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), a sharp-witted psychologist who's seemingly perfect life as a mother and wife gets upended when she catches her husband cheating and her children run into problems at school.

Her life gets even more interesting after she goes out to a bar with her girlfriend and eventually gets cozy with a bar patron, Matthew Donnally (Marc Blucas), who turns out to be the trainer for the fictional New York Hawks pro football team. The Hawks are looking for a therapist to help self-centered, highly paid wide receiver Terrance "TK" King (Mehcad Brooks), who is having on-the-field troubles catching passes thrown to him.

Donnally convinces a reluctant Santino to counsel the headache that is TK, who, among other things, has anger issues which eventually manifest during one of his sessions with the good doctor.

But Santino gives as good as she takes, and reveals some of her own anger issues in her attempts to reach the resolute King, whose destructive actions test the both team and Santino's patience.

Santino finds an unlikely ally in Nico (Scott Cohen), the team's shadowy professional problem- solver who often shows up unannounced to drag Santino into emergency situations regarding TK. Halfway through the premiere episode, Nico hustles Santino to Atlantic City in the middle of the night to rescue the troubled football star from a woman-tinged booze binge.

The doctor's preoccupation with King leaves little time to spend with her two teenage children - who have some behavioral issues of their own - as well as her nosy, gambling-obsessed mother.

Sports fans looking for a lot of hard-hitting football action in Necessary Roughness will be disappointed, as the first episode only offers a few minutes of on-the-field action. The main confrontation throughout the show is the battle of wills between the sharp-tongued Santino and the cocky King.

Necessary Roughness is a little edgier than USA's typical dramedy-infused shows, but viewers should find it an entertaining change for the "Characters Welcome" network.

Necessary Roughness premieres June 29 at 10 p.m. on USA Network.