Reviews of Royal Pains, which debuted last night on USA, have been mixed. And “mixed” is how I’d describe mine. Loved Mark Feuerstein. He’s not quite the sweetheart he was in In Her Shoes, but his character is by far the most likable onscreen. He’s Hank, a New York City doctor who loses his job, his connections, and his fiancée when a hospital trustee dies on his watch. (Technically, it was his day off, but he’d come into the ER with a kid who’d collapsed while they were playing basketball together and chose to return to him once he stabilized the trustee).
Hank is like Burn Notice‘s Michael, the best at what he does and happy to talk you through the steps — only aloud. At first I gave that an eyeroll, but it grew on me. I’m not sure whether it’s Hank’s social-climbing accountant brother Evan or the actor that plays him, Joey‘s Paulo Costanzo, that needs to be dialed back about 10 percent. (Evan is always on, like Psych‘s Shawn, only not all his jokes are as funny as he thinks.) Regardless, Evan eventually convinces a blacklisted and broke Hank to go to the Hamptons for the weekend, and Evan talks their way into a party thrown by a “German trillionaire” named Boris (Campbell Scott with a semi-ridiculous accent because you know it’s Campbell Scott). Hank out-observes Boris’ “concierge doctor” — or private physician for hire — and saves a woman’s life. Hank then spends the rest of the episode reluctantly answering 911 calls to his cell (which, um, he could’ve just turned off), and resisting the otherwise popular idea that he become the rich and not famous’ new medical MacGyver.
For me, the show’s biggest hurdle moving forward will be: How do you make the entitled clients annoying enough to remind us what a good, moral guy Hank is but not annoying enough that we want to change the channel because we’re just flat-out angry that these people get to live in such beautiful beachfront homes? The answer is you focus at least 50 percent of each episode on Hank’s love life. I suspect we haven’t seen our last female suffer from Nightingale Syndrome (an emotional attachment to the doctor who cares for you) — though I’m hoping April, the patient from Boris’ party, is gone for good. I didn’t feel any sexual tension between Hank and Divya (Reshma Shetty), but someone as high-strung as his self-appointed physician’s assistant might have to let her hair down eventually…And of course, there’s Jill (Jill Flint), the reason Hank (and therefore Evan) finally agreed to move into Boris’ guesthouse. Do I buy her as a hospital administrator, even at the Hamptons’ rinky-dink medical center? No. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt because of the way Hank looks at her. (Feuerstein is so good at that look.) She’s been set up as Hank’s perfect match — down to their similar taste in modest convertibles — but they can’t get together right away, right?
If the writers keep that story line interesting — and don’t make it into a love triangle with Boris, who we know has been very generous with donations for the clinic Jill wants to open — I’ll stick around. It’s summer. My DVR has space. And next week, Andrew McCarthy guest stars.
What about you?