Royal Pains will never get the high-brow acclaim that more serious medical dramas like, say, House or ER got. Royal Pains is more a guilty pleasure than a critic's darling. I guess you can make a case for Royal Pains being similar to House, only with more fine women and comic bits and heaps more self-absorption. Our guy Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) once was a gifted ER surgeon in Brooklyn until an aged billionaire hospital trustee expired under his care (see, Hank was simultaneously trying to save a young man's life). Nothing to do then but for the hospital to blame and fire Hank, nothing but for the billionaire's family to blackba11 him in the medical community.
Thirty days or so later, check out Hank Lawson in his suddenly slovenly digs. He's down in the dumps, planted on the couch in his undies, unable to land a job. His fiancée I guess was in it for the money and the prestige because she's just bolted. And I guess you've got to credit his goofy CPA brother, Evan (Paulo Costanzo), for extracting Hank from his deep mopes. Evan drags Hank to the Hamptons for a weekend stay. Hank probably wouldn't have gone, but his Netflix account just died, he's that broke now.
In the Hamptons, Evan and Hank crash a swank party, and Hank doesn't know it yet but he's just stumbled onto his true calling when he ends up saving a distressed model. Word gets around like brush fire in the Hamptons, and, suddenly, Hank's services are in high demand. Our guy protests that he's only in the Hamptons for a few days, but this is the pilot episode, so we know better. As our reluctant "conscierge doctor" makes his house calls, can he reconcile his professional ethics and his personal integrity with the outrageous demands issued by his new clientele?
In these economically mean times, you ask what's the fun in eyeballing a bunch of stuck-up swells moaning about their medical peccadillos? It's partly the wish fulfillment syndrome, of course. We with our lunch pails and hard hats, we make fun of the toffs but we want to be them, admit it. And this show does make for good summer distraction, takes our mind off whatever. USA network's good for that. For a while now USA's specialized in the easy-breezy show (Monk, Psych, White Collar, etc.). Royals Pains is right up that fun alley. It gets plenty of chances to tweak a time-worn formula. In the land of the supremely affluent, where the local hospital is referred to as a "cemetery" and a "socialist conspiracy" and a "taco stand," Hank Lawson is forced to arrive at unconventional solutions on the fly. There's an awesome grotesquerie to our conscierge doc's cases. In Season One alone, we see him perform makeshift surgery on a hemophiliac, drill into a skull to relieve hemotoma in the brain, attend a barkmitzva - yeah, a barkmitzva - and deal with a potential epidemic, remedy a deflated b00b job, inflate a collapsed lung with prodigious use of fish hooks, plastic gloves, and bottles... and you get the picture. The segue: I wonder who people compared MacGyver to when they tried to describe him back in the day? The point: Hank Lawson, the "newest accessory of the rich", is kinda like the sawbones version of MacGyver.
You'll find that Andrew Lenchewski is a dependable, likable lead actor. My one knock against the show: I found Paulo Costanzo as the sidekick brother to be an irritant, smug and intrusive and trying too hard. The writers were obviously aiming to make Evan the lovable, comic foil, except the guy's so crass and embarassing with his low-rent marketing schemes, I'm cringing each time. Thankfully, he's offset by two very fetching series regulars, Jill Flint as the lovely hospital administrator Jill Casey and the awesome Reshma Shetty as Hank's brainy and posh physician's assistant Divya Katdare. Maybe it'll enhance your viewing experience to know that Reshma Shetty in real life was a pre-med before she pursued acting. And this may be my favorite Campbell Scott role. He plays the enigmatic Boris, the German gazillionaire on whose sprawlling estate Hank makes his residence. We learn soon enough that Boris pulls the strings in this show.
Royal Pains won't tax your brain too much. It may make you tsk-tsk those crazy, miserable, offensively rich people and their albatross of too much money. Royal Pains is what the sadist would recommend to the hypochondriac. As if there weren't enough outlandish ways to get sick. However, if you're in fine health and of good humor, come soak in this fun USA series. Take in the colorful characters, the awkward romance or two, Hank's moments of improvisational treatment, and the freak show that is the Hamptons' elite and glamorous. Maybe you should count yourself lucky to be so poor yet down-to-earth. Or maybe not.
Season One's 12 episodes come on three discs, with the following bonus stuff:
- Option to play each episode with an intro from crew & cast (and by cast, it's meant actor Mark Feuerstein)
- 6 Audio Commentaries for 4 episodes: "Pilot" (with episode director Jace Alexander), "Pilot" (with exec. producers Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski), "No Man is an Island" (medical consultant Dr. Irv Danesh), "Nobody's Perfect" (exec. producer Michael Rauch and series stars Mark Feuerstein & Paulo Costanzo), "Wonderland" (exec. producer Michael Rauch and series stars Mark Feuerstein & Paulo Costanzo), and "Wonderland (exec. producers Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski)
- Deleted Scenes for 7 episodes
- Gag Reel (00:05:33 minutes)
- "Dr. Irv Danesh: The Real Doctor of ROYAL PAINS" featurette (00:06:18 minutes)
- Paulo's Video Blogs (six clips totaling 0031:28 minutes)
- Bonus PSYCH episode: "High Top, Fade Out"