Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pilot Reviews: Suits, Necessary Roughness

I must admit that I'm not a fan of USA's usual fare of light dramas peppered with interesting characters and no real plot. In fact, the only USA show I watch is Psych, their only comedy. So it was with a good deal of reservation that I sat down to watch USA's two newest dramas: legal drama Suits and football dramedy Necessary Roughness.

Suits (Thursdays at 10:00 on USA)

I don't have a very good history with legal dramas; they tend to bore me to tears with their endless, monotonous talky court scenes and stereotypically high-strung and/or high-maintenance characters. So after enjoying a comedic take on the courtroom drama this summer (Franklin & Bash), I can now say that there is a legal procedural I enjoy as well: Suits.

Suits is about a hugely influential lawyer, Harvey (Gabriel Macht), who is hiring for an open position at his firm. Slacker (and semi-con artist) Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is dodging a run-in with the police when he stumbles upon Harvey's interviews; it turns out Mike has a photographic memory, and though he has no law degree (or any degree at all) he is the most interesting and intelligent applicant. Harvey goes out on a limb to hire him, taking Mike on as his newest project.

The plot isn't overly complicated, but the relationship between Harvey and Mike is. It's like watching a father and son fight it out, make up, and learn a lesson whenever they share the screen. Mike is tired of being a screw up and wants to prove himself to the man who took a chance on him; Harvey seems to be tired of being distant and cold and not forming any relationships with those around him. The chemistry between Macht and Adams is perfect and complex, so you buy the tension and respect between them. The writing is snappy and quick; the pacing feels just right, never lagging nor flying past. This is the first time I've been truly happy with and even intrigued by a USA pilot, and I'll gladly continue watching.

Necessary Roughness (Wednesdays at 10:00 on USA)

This is exactly the kind of pilot I was referring to at the beginning of this review: a bland show that will succeed or fail based solely on the interest of the main character. And for me, it fails.

Necessary Roughness is about a hypno-therapist, Dr. Dani, who has just begun to divorce her husband and takes a new job as team therapist for the New York Hawks, a fictional football team. She has a one-night stand with the team's trainer, who realizes she may be able to help the team's star wide receiver TK with his issues, namely not being able to do his job and catch the damn ball. Dani also suffers at home: her mother is a gambler, her daughter seems intent on getting herself put behind bars or in a padded room, and her son is following in her husband's footsteps by cheating on his girlfriend.

When it comes down to it, Necessary Roughness isn't a terrible pilot. I can see why people would find it charming, with its inspirational elements of The Blind Side and the relatability of the working single mom struggling to get by. Callie Thorne is doing her best as Dr. Dani, and she comes off the best of everyone. But the other performances are universally weak, especially those from Marc Blucas as the trainer and Hannah Marks as the rebellious daughter. But worst of all is that the entire hour-plus pilot just feels inauthentic. We are constantly told how great a therapist Dani is but rarely see her actually do anything. Dani comes across as cold and emotionless, pushing everyone in her life away because of their individual problems. And doing this all with perfectly highlighted hair and a cute Long Island accent do not make a sympathetic character.

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