USA's Necessary Roughness 

Plus: Leverage, Neverlution

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  • Necessary Roughness

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Necessary Roughness
Wednesday, June 29 (USA)

Series Debut: With FX’s Rescue Me beginning its final season on July 13, it was a given that members of one of the best casts on TV would start turning up on other shows—but who expected lunatic 9/11 widow Sheila (Callie Thorne) to land a headlining gig on happy-go-fun-time cable net USA? Necessary Roughness toes the USA line of Interesting Characters With Unusual Careers: Thorne plays Dr. Danielle Santino, a tough, recently-divorced Long Island therapist who, through a chance job helping a eerily Terrell Owens-like pro footballer through a slump in tonight’s pilot episode, suddenly becomes an in-demand shrink for celebrities, rock stars, politicians and more athletes—it’s like Entourage meets In Treatment, softened up with some single-mom dramedy. After watching Thorne’s gut-wrenching, borderline-psychotic performances on Rescue Me for seven years, seeing her as a relatively sane person (the craziest thing about Dr. Santino is her reliance on … hypnotherapy) takes some time to get used to. About 75 minutes, to be exact: By the end of Necessary Roughness’ super-sized, occasionally-too-slick premiere, it’s clear that Thorne is too good to be pigeonholed as Sheila forever (but, damn, I’m gonna miss Sheila …).

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Love in the Wild
Wednesday, June 29 (NBC)

Series Debut: That Bachelor/Survivor mash-up that absolutely no one ever, ever asked for? NBC just squeezed it out like a Taco Bell binge from the weekend, and it’s called Love in the Wild. Says here, “Ten single men and 10 single women, all looking for love, will experience a romantic adventure unlike anything they could have ever imagined … They’re headed deep into the remote jungles of Costa Rica to see if they can find that special someone they’ve been looking for.” It’s almost as if a couple of NBC programmers, sitting at the bar and lighting cigars with Comcast money, dared each other to come up with a worse summer show than America’s Got Talent—and then a monkey jumped on their iPad and typed up a pitch for Jungle Humpin’ (later to be re-titled Love in the Wild). And if you’re only asking why there was a monkey in the bar, you’re part of the problem.

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Sundays (TNT)

New Season: The Only TV Column That Matters™ has said it plenty of times before: Leverage ain’t deep drama, but even the rare off episode (like last Sunday’s snowbound season premiere; Gina Bellman and Beth Reisgraf spending a whole hour in parkas, unacceptable summer TV) is more entertaining than the rest of TNT’s “We Know Drama” lineup. The series’ Ocean’s Eleven-meets-The A-Team conceit still works in Season 4, throwing unexpected twists into the weekly revenge-for-hire capers without getting all AMC thinky (I know, I know, you’re still pissed about The Killing’s finale—join the club). Plus, you just have to marvel at Timothy Hutton’s and Christian Kane’s hair; best wigs in the biz, hands down.

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Christopher Titus: Neverlution
Sunday, July 3 (Comedy Central)

Stand-Up Special: From 2000-02, Christopher Titus produced the best stand-up-turned-sitcom this side of Seinfeld, the darkly comic (comically dark?) Titus, which ran for three hysterically uncomfortable seasons on Fox—no, not even Fox in its “edgy,” pre-karaoke heyday could handle his show. Unfortunately, on stage, he hasn’t yet topped Norman Rockwell is Bleeding, the one-man show that launched him and Titus. Neverlution, which takes on our increasingly gutless nation and failing political system (happy Fourth of July eve!) in addition to his usual family dysfunction, finally comes close. But, it only gets a blue button because I fear Comedy Central will censor the hell out of it—watch, but pick up the Neverlution audio CD for the full, undiluted effect.
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