Diagnosis: Ehhh…


I started watching Royal Pains finally.

Didn’t catch up on Season 1, just went ahead and watched the three episodes of Season 2 that have aired because I wasn’t all that concerned about missing anything vital.

That lack of concern seems to have been an excellent foresight.

I think I’m done with Royal Pains now.

Some pretty-good chuckles from the promos I’ve seen and a few recommendations from people led me to believe that this was another excellent USA original. Now I have some firsthand experience, I can’t say I agree. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s…nice. But nothing to write home about (…and let’s just chew on the irony of using that idiom while writing a blog post).

As advertised, Royal Pains is a Romantic/Family Comedy wearing an Oddball Medical Procedural costume. Therefore it relies on two key ingredients: wacky medical problems and charming-but-slightly-tortured lead characters. Frankly, I find both of these ingredients somewhat lacking.

The medical cases I’ve seen were pretty wacky, I’ll admit. But they’re diagnosed/treated/cured/whatever in such painfully conventional ways that any wackiness is pretty much totally cancelled out to the point where I start wondering why the cases had to be so wacky to begin with. And the medical side of the show is so minimal and so clearly a gag to hold the show together it’s almost embarrassing.

Where the characters are concerned, I guess my lack of wonderment is purely a matter of opinion. I’m sure there are plenty of people who absolutely love these characters. I’m not one of them, unfortunately. Of the lead characters, the only one I have any sort of vague affection for is Divya (Reshma Shetty). But I’m pretty sure I only like her because she’s the token snarky but goodhearted female…and also because she is gorgeous and Indian slash British and really who doesn’t like that? I haven’t seen enough of Jill (who is played by Jill) to have any sort of opinion about her…and I’m fine with that, which is telling in itself. And then there are the real heartbeat of the show, the Lawson brothers.

Liking this show is utterly dependent on attachment to either Hank or Evan or both. I am definitely lacking that. I mean, I like Evan (Paulo Costanzo) well enough because he is vaguely cute and does all the majorly silly comedy gags. But I completely tune out regarding his emotional drama, because I don’t like him enough to care. As for Hank (Mark Feuerstein), well, what can I say? I don’t find him particularly attractive. I have no interest in his emotional well-being whatsoever because he’s kind of a dick. I find him only barely credible as a medical professional. But mostly I just get really distracted by his pants. I mean really. Recycling high-waisted tight trousers from the seventies is not a good move. Because not only are they highly unattractive on anyone, regardless of ass quality, but they are a terrible look for anyone that short AND the question of exactly how many wedgies he gets per episode totally distracts from anything else about the show.

…and that maybe says more about the show than the pants. (But seriously, the PANTS.)

I think USA tried really REALLY hard to repeat their success with Burn Notice. That show is excellent summer entertainment, and hilarious to boot. Royal Pains is just…not. The script is unremarkable, the overheads of the Hamptons are tiresome, and the expectation that viewers should care about the wacky medical issues of obscenely rich people is actually a bit insulting.

I’ve had exactly two moments of joy watching Royal Pains and both of them were guest characters: Mary Lynn Rajskub of 24, who I enjoyed simply because she is herself, and Marcia Gay Harden because she plays an excellent power-crazed biatch monster lady. There are maybe more moments of joy coming now that Anastasia Griffith has jumped over from the recently deceased Trauma to play rival to Hank for the esteemed position of Concierge Physician to Boris von Ridiculously Long But Awesome German Name. But I’m not sticking around to find out.

Long story short, I find Royal Pains unexceptional. It has a few moments that resemble humor or charm or emotional grittiness. Mostly, though, it is too shiny, too false, and trying too hard.

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Comments

  • Liska  On July 28, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    Incredibly late comment… but Divya is my absolute favorite character as well! If this show could be distilled into the dynamic of her conversations with Evan, I think it would be absolutely hilarious :)

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