June 16, 2009

new show review: royal pains

I've been inexcusably absent for almost two weeks. For shame. I will not use the summer hiatus excuse because there is quite a bit happening on the small screen these days.

Yes, much of it is wasteful reality programming (with the exception of NJ Housewives, which I learned to love over the weekend - finale tonight!) but there are also a few scripted shows that I've been testing out. Here's one that's caught my eye...

Royal Pains
(USA on Thursdays)

USA has a solid reputation for original programming with shows like Burn Notice, Psych, and the forever running Monk. They've cornered a strong niche and work the alternative calendar to their advantage. The latest installment is a summer show called Royal Pains about a reluctant concierge doctor in The Hamptons for the summer.

Right away, I like Royal Pains because it has that summer show Malibu Sands-Beverly Hills Beach Club feeling about it. The main character is Dr. Hank Lawson played by Mark Feuerstein. You may not know his name, but you definitely know his face. He's been in a million movies and TV shows (my favorites: Cliff Calley in West Wing and Simon Stein in In Her Shoes). He's always really good, but never seems to have a starring role (or at least one that made it past one season).

In the pilot, we see Hank as a successful young trauma surgeon in NYC with a promising career and a hot fiancee. After making a judgement call to give priority to a kid with a traumatic injury, the hospital's main donor dies on his watch. He's fired, loses his girl and goes into a beer-drinking-in-underwear depression. We've all been there.

In swoops his kid brother Evan played by Paulo Costanzo. You may know Paulo from Joey, but we won't hold that against him because he was great in movies like Road Trip. Evan is a goofy CPA with social climbing aspirations (think Andrew McCarthy in Weekend at Bernie's). He convinces Hank to join him for a weekend in The Hamptons, where he will skillfully sneak them into parties where they clearly do not belong.
Long story, short: Hank ends of saving the life of a woman at an exclusive party and is unwillingly sucked into the job as the official Hamptons concierge physician on call. He and his brother are persuaded to stay for the summer in the guest house of an impossibly rich and mysterious Hamptonite Boris, who is played - oddly enough - by Campbell Scott.

Overall, I've really liked this show so far. Feuerstein can play a likeable guy flawlessly, which proves to be an interesting combination with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Promising side characters include Jill, a love interest for Hank who works as administrator to the struggling local hospital, and Tucker, a wise beyond his years 16-year-old rich kid basically living on his own (absent father is played by the aforementioned Andrew McCarthy).

It's worth a gander.


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