Season one of USA’s “Necessary Roughness,” shot in metro Atlanta, did well for the network, thanks in a large part to the appeal of Callie Thorne.
The lead actress brought sass and heat to her role as a psychologist to temperamental athletes and celebrities.
Expect more of the same season two – and the quality of the show itself should be amped up a notch or two as well.
“We’ve been able to fine tune everything from the crew to the writing staff,” said Liz Krueger, an executive producer, in a phone interview last month. “Everything is running much more efficiently so we can spend more time focused on the creative stuff.”
They had issues with crew and production that forced them to sacrifice shots to stay on deadline season one. That is not so much the case now. “We’re able to be more ambitious in the material. Visually, the show is able to get bigger.” They’ve added some extra sets at Screen Gems studios, too, including brash football player T.K.’s apartment and a general manager’s office for the New York Hawks football team. (The show is supposedly set in New York, mostly Long Island.)
Krueger promises this sophomore season to be a little edgier, a little darker – though not quite FX territory.
The first season, Thorne’s character Dr. Dani Santino, struggled with raising her teenage kids after a divorce and developing her solo practice with more high-profile clients. “She is more grounded in her love life and professional life,” Thorne said. “She has a reputation now. Patients are coming to her.” (Not that it’s stopped Dr. Dani from developing a hush-hush relationship with the New York Hawks trainer.)
Thorne was a great secondary character on FX’s “Rescue Me.” She said it was a major adjustment to be a lead character. “It was terrifying,” she said on set in April. “Everyone was looking to me to set the tone.”
She said Denis Leary, the focal point of “Rescue Me,” kept that set jovial and light and “full of laughter” so that would reflect on camera. “It too me a little while last year,” she said, to set the proper tone. Just memorizing lines for multiple episodes was tough, she noted. (To save time, “Necessary Roughness” shoots two episodes at once.)
“I was a frantic mess last year,” Thorne said, honestly. “I don’t know if I hid it well. I was really scared. I didn’t know if I had the capacity to do it.”
Thorne said fortunately, she has gotten along with the other actors. “We have had such a blast together,” she said. “That takes care of itself. It was just up to me to have my own s*** together. That has become easier. I can feel now that I can enjoy myself in the present instead of worrying about looking forward so much.”
She said she goes to a therapist herself. “It’s an exceptional way to learn about yourself,” she said. “I find it fascinating. It helps me in my life. And it helps me in my therapy scenes on the show.” And she has learned from the show that she needs to be a better listener. “Some people just want to be heard, not necessarily to be fixed,” she said.
Krueger said all the major characters are deepened “times a hundred.” She said the show was still finding its “sea legs” season one. “It’s like a marriage. The first year is the honeymoon. You have to work the kinks out.”
Season one was set during a football season and shot during a blistering hot summer of Atlanta while trying desperately to masquerade as fall on Long Island. This time, they are focusing on off season with plotlines focused on training camp and the draft. Production began in the spring and the city has been significantly milder to boot. So the actors won’t have to sweat in fall/winter clothing in 85-degree weather.
T.K. (Mehcad Brooks) will continue to be a strong foil for Dr. Dani, especially after getting shot in the season finale and recovering from that traumatic event. How he copes will be a major plot point in the early episodes.
USA will air 11 episodes this summer, five more this winter.
“Necessary Roughness,” 10 p.m. starting June 6, USA Network
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk