For my money, the summer finale of ROYAL PAINS came at just the right time, interrupting a series that has been suffering a bit of sophomore slump.
It feels to me like this show needed a break. It has been meandering along, good-naturedly enough, but also kind of aimlessly. The recurring presence of Henry Winkler as Hank (Mark Feuerstein) and Evan’s (Paulo Costanzo) shady daddy, Eddie R., lent the illusion that there was an ongoing umbrella story for the season, but it’s been more like an on-again, off-again distraction. Initially, Eddie was just a pure tease; it’s only recently that much of his story was larded on. I have to admit that I did not foresee Eddie turning out to be a government informer targeting Boris (Campbell Scott). Top marks for that little inversion of audience expectations.
Sure, ROYAL PAINS featured its biggest guest star ever this week – the 7-foot, 485-pound Paul Wight, a.k.a. Big Show of the WWE – but I was more distracted by who wasn’t on the screen very much: Where did Divya go?
This second season of ROYAL PAINS is focusing a lot on adding big names: Henry “the Fonz” Winkler is recurring as Hank and Evan’s shady father, Eddie R., and Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden will be seen periodically as prickly Dr. Elizabeth Blair. And Christine Ebersole’s Mrs. Newberg is also on the scene a lot more lately. Last week, 24’s erstwhile Chloe, Mary Lynn Rajskub, portrayed Mrs. Newberg’s flighty daughter, Blake. Also, AS THE WORLD TURNS’ Marnie Schulenburg (Alison) appeared as Sherrie Tanner, a leather craftswoman (“I’m the only designer on the East Coast specializing in armadillo; it’s my schtick!”) who contracted Hansen’s disease – otherwise known as leprosy – from her own creations. (Get the joke? “Tanner” works with leather?) The soap trend continued this week with Florencia Lozano (ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Tea) playing Faith, the high-strung sister/business manager of the action-movie star known as the Garbage Man (Big Show).
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.