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COLUMN: New shows on USA have some edge

THE USA network has enjoyed success in the past few years with shows like “Royal Pains” and “White Collar” that are fun but rarely too edgy.

That’s changing with the introduction of new shows like “Rush” and “Satisfaction.”

The first centers on a drug-addled doctor who mostly treats bad people for medical problems. The other features a husband who looks for clues to his troubled marriage by becoming a male, um, escort.

From all the hype about the two shows, this reviewer thought he’d be intrigued by “Satisfaction” but bored with “Rush.”

After seeing the show’s pilot episodes last week, the opposite is closer to the truth.

“Rush” feels a lot like “House” in the sense that doctor William P. Rush (Tom Ellis) is brilliant but a tortured soul, turning to cocaine, pot and more to keep his personal demons at bay.

Kicked out of the ER, Rush has created his own off-kilter kind of practice: serving the rich who have criminal problems or other reasons they can’t call on regular docs.

His standing demand: They have to have stacks of cash waiting for him.

In the opening hour, Rush treats the girlfriend a baseball star has battered and a rich businessman who has somehow broken his, well, male parts.

It would all be pretty forgettable if not for the fact that Ellis injects a sadly sweet note into this out-of-control personality.

Especially when he meets the former love of his life who’s moving back to the area.

If Ellis can make Rush as interesting as Hugh Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House—a tall order—this show might be worth following.

It would help if the posse surrounding Rush, assorted friends, former associates and his “office” secretary can become interesting in their own right, something unclear in the pilot.

Get no ‘Satisfaction’?

As a fan of actor Matt Passmore from his turn on “The Glades,” this reviewer was inclined to enjoy “Satisfaction.”

And the show does manage to pull you in.

One moment, we’re watching Neil Truman endure a really bad day that speaks to the growing emptiness he feels about his life.

He’s being pushed at his soul-crushing money-management job; can’t connect with his beautiful but distant wife, Grace (Stephanie Szostak), at home; and keeps missing chances to do the same with his daughter.

When he gets stuck on an airplane for five hours on a business trip, it’s the last straw and he explodes, causing quite a scene on the plane.

When Truman runs to tell his wife that he wants to make meaningful changes in his life, he rushes to the open house his wife is holding as a part-time Realtor.

Only to find the woman he seldom finds interested in sex having a wild session of just that with a male escort.

How’s that for an unexpected twist?

Truman doesn’t let them see him, but then chases the escort his wife pays for sex and has a tussle with him.

OK, so far, so good.

Where everything takes a hard-to-believe twist is what happens next.

Ending up with the escort’s phone—he left with his jacket—Truman is surprised when a client calls later asking for a “date.”

Still heartsick from his wife’s infidelity, in a moment of weakness he decides to stand in for the escort.

That can almost be understood, Truman trying to get back at the cheating wife and to understand why she’s seeking out other people.

But as the show progresses, Truman decides to keep taking the calls, and meets

a madam of sorts who may well become his new pimp.

Because he never tells Grace he knows her secret,

a reconciliation of sorts

happens near the end of

the pilot.

But moments later when he notices a call on the escort’s phone from his wife, he assumes the worst and probably will continue his “on-call” career.

The escort scenes are designed to be titillating and a bit racy for a cable channel.

But it’s hard to take a show seriously where a husband is trying to save his marriage by becoming a male hooker.

At least on HBO’s “Hung” a similar story played out as a comedy, not to be taken so seriously.

But here, it expects to be taken seriously, though the show’s whole premise makes that difficult.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415



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