It was a night of ups and downs in the mid-season summer finale of USA Network’s Necessary Roughness with the episode titled “All The King’s Horses…”. With Terence King (Mehcad Brooks) going off the rails, how will Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) and the heads of the Hawks football team led by Coach Purnell (Gregory Alan Williams), Matthew Donnally (Marc Blucas) and Nico (Scott Cohen) try to save their all-star receiver? And does it hurt that T.K.’s agent blames Matty for losing his top client? And what does the guy (Michael Imperioli) from the Sopranos have to do with anything? It was an interesting end to say the least. A while back a declaration was made about viewing of Necessary Roughness and the question was does the show hold up better to multiple episode viewing blocks or a per episode basis? And how was the finale?
We’ll get to the ‘does the show hold up’ answer in a bit. The Necessary Roughness finale “All The King’s Horses…” though features tons of character arcs that get a season-end payoff. On paper these pay-offs seem like good ideas, but it is the execution on some of them that leave a little to be desired for this examiner.
The big guest star of the episode was Michael Imperioli who plays Jimmy Folkes, a music producer who is also sent to rehab where T.K. is sent. Terence promises that if he goes to rehab, that he can stay on the Hawkes. If he refuses, he will be kicked off the team. This poses a problem on more than one front for other characters, such as Donnally as interim General Manager, who now needs to find a replacement receiver to pick up the slack or his tenure as interim GM or anything related to the Hawks is over. And then there is Dani’s son Ray Santino Jr. (Patrick Johnson) who in the past few episodes seen hurting for money so makes a foolish plan with his friend to try to win a fantasy football league. His friend will front the money if Ray allows him to plant his weed in the back of his mother’s house.
And then there is Marshall Pitman who has all the tapes that Dani needs to feel safe. Until then, she is calling all her clients and letting them know she is taking a week or two vacation. Luckily though Pitman on the way to fly out for the first game, not only pays of Dani’s IRS bill but sends her the tapes in a way of making up for it. Or is he? The sad fact is that Nico can never confront his old friend about the issue as his plane, only containing Pitman and the pilot disappeared. When they find his body, one does question was Pitman really being that kind? Or perhaps he killed himself and the pilot? People who commit suicide usually leave things behind or try to make amends to things. It’s an interesting idea that drives the whole Pitman storyline to a somewhat satisfying conclusion. But then there is Nico and Dani, who at the end, kiss.
Earlier in the episode, Dani calls Donnally for a late night chat because she can’t sleep being worried about T.K. and Donnally seems hesitant on the phone. We then pull back to see Donnally has another woman in his bed. From that point on, Dani is cold towards Matt. Again, on paper the idea of a relationship between Nico and Dani seems good, but it came off a bit more creepy with some of the dialogue and more ‘Well this seems thrown together’. Both Thorne and Cohen are excellent in the roles and really try to make the best of the situation and there IS chemistry there but the leading up to it actually felt weird as a viewer to watch unfold.
And then there is the waste of Imperioli as Folkes. Again, on paper, and for most of the episode, the scenes between Folkes and T.K. were quite well done. And even the end of how Folkes’ death from nothing seems to be a great way to scare T.K. back into therapy and rehab. But after only one episode, despite Imperioli knocking it out of the park, it felt way too easy to get T.K. from point A to B. Why not have Imperioli around for two to three episodes? Make it a real connection to T.K. once that is close to Dani? His Folkes character makes a charade of saying sorry and crying and says he is concerned of never seeing his kid again, and we get a hint that despite him saying it was a game, that he is serious about his son, but why not build on that more? Imperioli looked like he had a blast playing the role, his chemistry with Brooks was on the nose, so it would have been great to see that play out further to it’s sad and tragic conclusion with more time.
Earlier this examiner mentioned the experiment about watching Necessary Roughness in large chunks. The answer, unequivocally is that the series Necessary Roughness holds up better in large chunks, but still the flaws are still there. And again, that is the real problem with Necessary Roughness is that especially after this season, which is miles above the last, it still is trying too hard to rush to the finish line. Why not take your time telling your stories? The storyline between Dani and Donnally was actually well done and even the story with Donnally having to find a replacement and putting his job as GM on the line. It felt very nicely paced episode to episode, but for some of the stories like Nico and Dani, Folkes and T.K. escape rehab, it just felt like a quick hop-skip and a jump way to end the season for the characters, and it feels insulting when after how far the show has come it becomes insulting to the cast and crew who work on the show, and in a way, to viewers as well. And while Necessary Roughness has been better about focusing more on the drama that is unfolding at the Hawks, the idea that they still focus on a case of the week is frustrating. There have been several guest stars in the past month worth of episodes that are worthy of further insight and scrutiny as a patient and therapist and would be fun to see Dani wrangle them like she does T.K. Like the baseball player or the husband-wife tennis players; perfect examples of reoccurring guest stars that could come back for multiple episode arcs for the entire season. I find it strange that apparently only T.K. is the only one who Dani deals with on a reoccurring basis after ‘they’ve been initially cured’. But that too is another complaint I’ve had about the series since inception.
Overall, the past few episodes and this entire season is above and beyond what season one was, but Necessary Roughness still has plenty room for improvement. Hopefully the last half of season two will showcase those changes.
Necessary Roughness airs on the USA Network which is on Channel 5 on Columbus Insight Communications and Channel 29 for Columbus Time Warner Customers
But what do YOU think?
You can comment below or send your thoughts via e-mail. Heck, if you have twitter, tweet us!
Let us know and we may read your comments on Nick’s podcast, the Good, The Bad & The Geeky. If you like what you hear, please subscribe on iTunes, rate and comment!
This review was originally submitted on The TV King. You can read Nick’s additional reviews on The TV King.