ROYAL PAINS 2.1: Rx for summer fun

The problem with the inaugural season of ROYAL PAINS is that while the show is breezy and entertaining, the scripting has always been just a bit too on-the-nose. There was very little about the show that was subtle, the second-season premiere indicates that trend is continuing.

When last we saw the employers of HankMed, the concierge doctor service sweeping the Hamptons playground of the rich, Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and Evan (Paul Costanzo) had just seen their bank accounts drained by their unseen ne’er-do-well father, Eddie, and physician’s assistant Divya (Reshma Shetty) had reluctantly become engaged to Roger, the London businessman her parents arranged for her when she was a child.

The premiere finds the brothers estranged and fighting over money (or, rather, lack of same) and Evan’s insistence that Daddy Eddie will come through and repay the boys while Hank is convinced they need to forget the deadbeat ever existed. Enter “Spencer the Spaz,” the accident-prone king of infomercials, who just so happens to be attempting to distance himself from the legacy of his more-successful father. (See what I mean about the ham-fisted scripting?) And while the boys were back together as a business, they were still having trouble relating as brothers. Luckily, Divya has just learned a lesson about meeting family halfway, and explicitly says to Evan that she can…er, relate to his problem. (Ensuring that anyone watching at home will not be lost…) Of course, Evan is loathe to admit his attraction to the drop-dead gorgeous Divya

One of the new characters introduced this season is Marcia Gay Harden as Dr. Elizabeth Blair, a pushy GI surgeon and board member. She is also supercilious and judgmental, which means she is critical of Jill’s (Jill Flint) business- and customer-satisfaction-oriented management style. At this point, Blair looks like a straw-man adversary for Jill, but I trust Harden to bring some depth to the character. The other new addiction to the cast is Henry Winkler as Hank and Evan’s bad dad, Eddie. He hasn’t done anything yet accept present his sons with a check. Let’s see if it bounces…

Another way the script is weak: Hank just happened to notice the perfect piece of equipment in Jill’s antique collection earlier that day. How lucky was it that those M.A.S.T. pants just happened to be available when needed? But then again, the show is about creative application of medical principles. While Hank ministers to the rich and powerful, he specializes in coming up with low-budget, almost MacGuyer-esque solutions to medical problems, rather than expensive fixes. I really don’t want to leave the impression that ROYAL PAINS is slipping. It is still the perfect lightweight summer entertainment; I just wish the writers tried a little harder to make the scripts a little more sophisticated. At least, don’t make the characters point out how obvious the plot points are. But I love the way the show is just simply entertaining. Perfect for hot summer nights, when one just wants to turn off the brain and enjoy…

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