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.
If one is supposed to keep one’s friends close, and one’s enemies closer, then where does one keep one’s frenemies? The boys of HankMed got to ponder that question on this week’s ROYAL PAINS.
It definitely seemed like no news would be good news for Hank (Mark Feuerstein), who would have been better off not seeing the local paper – especially since it contained a full-page ad for Dr. Peck (Anastasia Griffith) and a story that quoted Dr. Elizabeth Blair (Marcia Gay Harden) bashing Jill’s (Jill Flint) free clinic. Of course Blair claimed she was misquoted, and what she was really trying to get across was that waiting a few years to open a bigger clinic would help more people. Whatever, Doc.
The most interesting aspect of this lark of a ROYAL PAINS episode was that the subject matter – the aftermath of a drunken night of wild partying – was also the plotline of this week’s episode of RESCUE ME. But while the firefighter drama examined the life-and-death consequences of such a bender, RP took a much lighter approach; one a bit more reminiscent of last year’s hit movie, The Hangover.
Not that this episode was a standalone throwaway; we learned some interesting stuff This story opened the morning after Raj’s (Rupak Ginn) bachelor party, with Hank (Mark Feuerstein) sleeping in a hammock entwined with Dr. Emily Peck (Anastasia Griffith), who praised his skill in the hammock the night before! Divya (Reshma Shetty) and Jill (Jill Flint) awoke in a cab at the beach, with driver Aristotle (Bill Bellamy) passed out behind the wheel. Divya had a flower tattoo on her hip, while Jill had a much larger one on her shoulder. Evan woke up in Boris’ courtyard and was stunned to see Raj lying in the driveway below a balcony, presumably dead. Did Evan kill him in a jealous rage over Divya? The story rewound 24 hours to explain the (relatively benign) means by which everyone ended up in the seemingly serious situations.
Hank became something of a “Hero of the People in Cuba” when he fought to save an “Enemy of the Cuba” with a heart problem in this week’s installment of ROYAL PAINS. Oh, and he also fulfilled his commitment as “house doctor” when he saved Boris’ life in the concluding chapter of a two-part sojourn to the communist island.
Well, Imagine my disappointment when Evan’s kidnapping in last week’s cliff-hanger turned out to be just what I feared/expected: the ol’ “We kidnapped us a doctor” plot, in which a medico is needed to treat someone who must stay hidden, but the doctor’s relative/friend/lover is nabbed by mistake. Happens all the time, right? At least the-powers-that-be changed it up slightly by making patient a dissident writer who was hiding from the government. He was presumed dead, so visiting a hospital would have exposed him and his family. So, of course the requisite complication required him to get an echocardiogram heart scan. Gee, if only Hank knew of a fully-stocked, private medical facility where he could perform the test in secret…
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.