Friday, June 12, 2009

Royal Pains Review

Mark Feuerstein Dr. Hank Lawson Ezra Miller Tucker Royal Pains pilot screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capsDr. Hank (Mark Feuerstein, right) helps young Tucker (Ezra Miller) after a car accident in the pilot episode of Royal Pains.

If you watch USA, you've no doubt seen about a million commercials for their new series Royal Pains. The show follows a doctor, Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein), who gets fired from his prestigious hospital job because of the bureaucracy that felt he should sacrifice a young man's life to devote full attention to a hospital donor. After a severe bout of depression and losing his superficial fiance (Jerry Maguire, anyone?), Hank reluctantly goes on a vacation to the Hamptons with his goofy brother Evan. At a party hosted by a rich Russian mobster type, Hank saves a guest from pesticide poisoning. His good deed spreads like wildfire, and suddenly every wealthy person in the Hamptons has his number and is calling him for help.

I've always enjoyed Mark Feuerstein, in TV series Good Morning, Miami, and shortlived doctor show 3lbs. I think both of those shows were better than this one, though I keep hoping the episodes will tighten up a bit more. It's not a bad premise, and the show deals with issues of class, the hospital system nightmare, and lots of groovy MacGyver-style medical saves by Dr. Hank.

The first problem with the show is that it spent too much time hiring women who looked like models, and not enough time hiring women who could act. Reshma Shetty as Divya, looks to have some promise, but after an interesting intro in the pilot episode, she wasn't given much to do in this one. She works as Dr. Hank's physician's assistant, is smart and ambitious, and has experience dealing with the locals. I'm hoping she'll be more than just window dressing in future episodes.

Mark Feuerstein Dr. Hank Lawson Ezra Miller Tucker Royal Pains screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capsThe highlight of the first two shows was definitely Ezra Miller as the 16 year old rich kid Tucker living in a mansion pretty much on his own as his dad jets around the globe. Tucker and his adorable pixie of a hypochondriac girlfriend Libby (Meredith Hagner) first meet Hank when they get into a car accident, and Dr. Hank ends up saving the hemophiliac Tucker's life.

Tucker and Libby are smart and sophisticated, and ridiculously mature for their age. There's a certain melancholy around Tucker, however, as he tries to act above it all, when it's clear he needs to have some sort of parental figure around. When Tucker, Libby, and Hank are onscreen, it's like they're in a completely different show. Ezra Miller himself is mature for his age, with a deep, drawling sardonic delivery and easy rapport with the other actors. Meredith Hagner makes the crazy health-conscious Libby into an amusingly frenetic sweetie, and pretty much the only interesting female character on Royal Pains. Sure, she's a little crazy, but at least she's not dull and vapid.

The weakest link thus far is Hank's brother Evan. Some of it can be blamed on the writing, but it doesn't seem like Paulo Costanzo is doing enough to make it work, either. Evan is constantly on the prowl for hot women, makes obnoxious innuendoes at every turn, and has lame pick-up lines that usually get him disgusted eyerolls from his intended targets--though in other scenes, he seems to be surrounded by scantily clad coeds, so maybe he's more charming offscreen?

I would be able to handle it if they just made Evan a repulsive character who perhaps comes through for his brother when it counts. But instead they seem to be hinting that we should find him endearing, especially when we have to sit though endless scenes of him wooing a ballerina in the second episode. Evan is not endearing. No matter what he's doing or saying, he just comes off creepy.

Mark Feuerstein Dr. Hank Lawson Ezra Miller Tucker Royal Pains screencaps images photos pictures screengrabs capsMatt LeBlanc played Joey on Friends, and created a character who was a lasagna-loving airhead who tried to pick up women even in his sleep--but also a sweet, funny, and endearing guy. You'd think Costanzo might have picked up some pointers when he played LeBlanc's brother on the spin-off Joey, but apparently not.

The other weak link is Jill Flint as hospital administrator Jill Casey. She's a hospital administrator the way Denise Richards was a nuclear scientist in The World is Not Enough. They've set her up as a romantic interest for Hank, as he helps her with her dreams of a free clinic. I just don't feel it, and I don't believe it. And still, it keeps happening.

Personally, I think Royal Pains would be a fine show with Hank, Divya, Tucker and Libby, along with an assortment of Hamptons crazies and snobs and sweethearts. For now I'll tune in just for those four and see where the show takes them.

Watch Royal Pains on USA Thursday nights at 10/9c. Check your local listings for encore showings.

Mark Feuerstein as Dr. Hank and Ezra Miller as Tucker, Royal Pains, Pilot screencaps, c2009 Universal Cable Productions, USA Network.

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