I have waited until today to write my thoughts on USA's new show Royal Pains, which debuted this summer and aired its final episode yesterday. Immediately I was taken with the story. The writers create instant sympathy for emergency room doctor, Hank, who loses his job because he wouldn't cater to a wealthy patient over another lower paying one. He does however manage to help both of them, but in the end the wealthy patient dies. He is sued by the wealthy patient's family and is unable to find a new job. Then his shallow fiancée leaves him, since he's not making anymore of the big bucks or has a promising career. Hank sinks into depression until his brother, Evan, a fun quirky character, helps pull him out of this by taking him away to the exclusive Hamptons for the summer.
I found myself rooting for Hank as he winds up unwittingly becoming an overnight success as a doctor to the rich - the very type of people he was most hurt by and lost his job over. And Hank's character truly cares for people, no matter who they are. He is smart, definitely the new "MacGyver" (as the show happily pokes fun at – anyone up for a Richard Dean Anderson guest appearance? Hint hint to any writers of the show if you're reading this.) of medical shows, and it's also loads of fun getting to travel into the wealthy lifestyles and adventures of Hampton residents.
One of the most enjoyable characters Hank meets is Tucker, a lonely rich kid whose father you later find out is mostly absent or when present battling a serious prescription drug addiction. Hank becomes a sort of substitute dad and I can't even describe how deep and powerful these scenes play. Great acting, and great writing. The episode where Tucker asks Hank to help get his dad get free from the addiction is one that truly inspired, and showed that this show is not to be taken lightly (though it is smattered with some fun comedic moments too.)
Another brilliant character is Boris, Hank's mysterious and super wealthy landlord. And when I say brilliant, I don't use the word loosely. Throughout the season the writers keep his character shrouded in secrecy, and the casting for Boris is perfect, as Campbell Scott plays the mysterious tension with such smooth finesse that honestly he has become one of my favorite characters. I truly hope he returns, and the respected friendship they have grows. Hank can use all the friends he can get.
Evan, Hank's brother is also a well rounded character portrayed with uncanny humor by Paulo Costanzo. He plays the fine line between funny sidekick and caring bro well. And if you haven't caught some of his side comments go back and watch for them – I wonder how much of that is from Costanzo's improv?
Sadly along the way, it seems as if the writer's have forgotten what a smart, intelligent character Hank really is and have strayed from keeping the character consistent. There is no way he would fall for someone as fickle and shallow as Jill. Although some efforts were made to make it seem like we should root for her (she feels him losing his job was unfair and somewhat gives a care for her fellow man by trying to start a low income free clinic), she treats Hank like a plaything that she can use whenever she wants, no matter that she's still married. And the amazing thing is that the writers allow Hank to be so stupid. He just got out of a relationship with a shallow woman. He's a likable, sincerely dedicated guy, not a foppish immature idiot; we already have his hilarious brother for that. In order for me to want to keep watching please get rid of Jill. Hank continuing to grovel to her is embarrassing.
I look for the next season with excitement and trepidation. I hope we're given more chances to explore life in the Hamptons. I certainly wouldn't mind shoving Jill off a high cliff, if we must have Hank involved then he can solve her murder using his mad medical skills. Otherwise keep the fun and depth, but be sure to bring back Boris and Tucker! Oh and RDA as a guest star of course.