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Callie Thorne shines in promising series ‘Necessary Roughness’

Callie Thorne plays Dani Santino pilot for “Necessary Roughness” USA Network.

Callie Thorne plays Dani Santino in the pilot for “Necessary Roughness” on the USA Network.

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9 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays on USA Network

Updated: June 29, 2011 2:15AM

Callie Thorne has made a name for herself playing sultry, no-nonsense broads and volatile women scorned. She’s magnetic as Denis Leary’s emotionally unbalanced love interest on FX’s “Rescue Me,” and she’s in fine form as a similar sort of character (wild eyes, shrieking tirades, brash ultimatums) on USA’s “Necessary Roughness.”

Debuting tonight and inspired by the true-life story of Dr. Donna Dannenfelser — a California-based psychotherapist and hypnotherapist who has worked with the New York Jets — the hourlong, humor-rife drama stars Thorne as highly credentialed head doctor and sometime head case Dani Santino.

She’s spent the last 17 years trying to balance family and career. In return, her husband cheats with a half dozen women and her two teen kids run wild. It’s enough to make anyone crazy, but “Dr. Dani” is too busy dealing with couch-reclined patients to heal herself. Or maybe she’s just in denial.

Soon enough, and just in time to cover bills after she demands a divorce and her cheating spouse freezes their bank accounts, her talents for making distracting mental issues go bye-bye are acquired for a hefty fee by the fictional New York Hawks football team. Its star receiver (Mehcad Brooks), keeps dropping passes and Dani — via her carnal connection to the team’s trainer (Marc Blucas) — gets the gig to cure him. “Good luck, doc,” the Hawks’ skeptical head coach tells her. “You’re our Hail Mary.”

Dani, too, must grapple with copious baggage, and Thorne does so with both humor and poignancy. Despite some cliched dialogue and scenes (she tosses her lecherous husband’s designer duds and pricey suitcase out their bedroom window — fresh!), her presence is reason enough to watch — and reason enough to hope this series turns out to be something worth watching week after week.

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