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Before sitting down to watch the premiere episode of USA’s latest character driven summer show, Royal Pains, I was expecting something light and fun. What I ended up watching was a show that tries to fit into USA’s typical wheelhouse, but just couldn’t quite live up to the charm of Michael Westin or the witty camaraderie of Shawn and Gus.
Royal Pains is simple in concept: a doctor in New York makes a judgment call that puts a hospital big wig patron in the grave, but saves a kid’s life. Ostracized Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) lets his life go to hell, and to top it off his bitchy fiancé leaves him. Actually, he tells her to get out in an early moment that had me rooting for this kind doctor. Eventually the sidekick brother shows up and takes Hank to a party out in the Hamptons. A location, it should be noted, that is highly overrated.
While at a party thrown by a super rich guy a woman falls ill. Out in the Hamptons the elite class don’t always want to deal with the paperwork that comes with the hospital, so they hire doctors to visit their homes. The current doc, obviously jaded from his years of work in the area, misdiagnoses the woman’s issue as a drug overdose. Hank steps in, saves the woman’s life, and is then offered the position as a “concierge doctor” to the uber rich folks of the Hamptons.
It’s a life he does not want, and we watch during the premiere as Hank tries to stay away from the job. Yet whenever he gets a call he goes out and helps some poor kid, or a woman with a “flat tire.” The problem is that while Hank is a nice guy – hence the reason for him helping these people – you can’t help but feel that he’s more pretentious than the snobs he’s called upon to help.
What Royal Pains really has going for it is a high amount of potential. Unfortunately the series starts out with a lead character that is too uncertain, and side characters that are more stereotypes than quirky. Evan (Paulo Costanzo), Hank’s brother, is a freewheeling CPA that acts the part of semi-loser sidekick. He does it well, but what makes you care about people is that they have some substance. They’re interesting for other reasons besides telling a joke. That’s the type of show Royal Pains wants to be. And it could be.
In the realm of USA series’ Royal Pains ends up being mildly enjoyable, but when you think about how Burn Notice handles a unique man with a heart dealing with crazy situations it becomes clear that Dr. Hank Lawson just doesn’t have the charm most of us are looking for in a summer series.
Starring: Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty, Jill Flint.
Premieres: Thursday, June 4 at 10:00 pm EST on USA