Thursday, June 3, 2010

Royal Pains: The MacGyver Of Medical Shows

When young emergency room doctor Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) is fired after being wrongly blamed for a high profile patient’s death he goes to the Hamptons to party with his CPA brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) where he ends up saving a girl’s life. Word gets around that Hanks is a “concierge doctor” and with the help of Evan and Physician Assistant Divya (Reshma Shetty), Hank Med is born.

Although Hank is reluctant to become the doctor-for-hire for the rich and famous, he finds himself in high demand. Whether it’s a crazy middle aged woman with more plastic parts than natural parts, a teenage kid who drives a Ferrari or a grizzled fisherman, Hank helps everyone and has no choice but to make wherever they are into a hospital room.

Royal Pains is the medical show that could with some MacGyver-like tendencies. Hank is calm, smart, quick and on his game and checks his arrogance at the door. He is kind without being annoying and clever in more ways than one. Since he sees all his patients outside of a hospital he uses whatever he can to fix the problem. Examples include using rubber cement to fix a motorcycle accident wound or using a mirrored serving platter to detect which members of a family have the correct blood type for a transfusion. His clients are people who are willing to pay big bucks to protect their privacy; they will do whatever it takes to keep their medical issues under wraps.

While Royal Pains is on the small, underdog USA Network it is in rather good company with other popular shows like Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and Psych, among others. It’s also nice to see a show that is set somewhere other than NYC or LA where the main characters aren’t the rich people, they help the rich people. As local hospital administrator and Hank’s love interest Jill Casey (Jill Flint) says, Hank is the Robin Hood of medicine.

But Robin Hood can’t do it alone and Evan and Divya are two very intelligent and very witty sidekicks who provide smart dialogue and irresistible chemistry. Each member of the Hank Med trio does their part in making sure that their grassroots company succeeds in one of the most specialized and high-end markets in the country. And it works.

Since the Hamptons is clearly a summer getaway spot it makes sense that USA has made Royal Pains a summer show. Although summer shows are sometimes viewed as the ones that can’t hack it during the prime time TV season, this show proves that theory wrong. Unlike House where episodes can sometimes feel redundant, Royal Pains switches it up by bringing in sub-characters in and out of episodes which makes it more interesting. My favorite sub-character is Tucker Bryant, a 16-year-old who is way beyond his years, has several Ferraris at his disposal and has a billionaire addict father (badass Andrew McCarthy who looks as though the 80s could have been yesterday) who is hardly around. Hank and Tucker bond over their absentee fathers while still maintaining clever dialogue along with the always welcomed Top Gun references.

Favorite Tucker line: "Dude don't punk the Crackberry or she'll light your ass up like a Christmas tree." (Warning Hank not to make fun of Pinkberry frozen yogurt in the presence of his girlfriend).

The second season of Royal Pains debuts tonight and if the show’s sophomore season is as good as its first then we are in for one hell of a summer.

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