Royal Pains: Pilot

royals1e01Light. Frothy. Summertime fun. If you like your summers the way I do, with frosty drinks and evening breezes off the ocean, you might have enjoyed the premiere of Royal Pains as much as I did. Then again, if you’re in the camp who finds Mark Feuerstein bland and uninteresting, you might not have liked it. To each his own.

Me, I like Feuerstein quite a lot and have been waiting a long time for him to get a show that fit his persona. I liked him fine on The West Wing, but he doesn’t strike me as a Sorkin lead. He’s been good in some bad things and servicable in some good things, but this time I think he’s found the show in which he’ll shine.

Plus, he’s got the luck of a TV doc.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve played a lot of pickup ball in my day, against significantly less healthy competition than Doctor Hank, but not once has someone collapsed with heart failure. And at all the posh parties I attend, as filled with supermodels as they may be, never has one of them sniffed a flower and gotten poisoned. ((My ex-Mossad bodyguards do carry Mark 1 Kits for just such an emergency, however.)) What I’m saying, is that Doctor Hank sure does find himself near a lot of critical people. I’m not sure I’d walk next to him in a thunderstorm.

I would walk next to his brother, though. Paulo Costanzo brings a much needed bit of zaniness to Evan and steals almost every scene he’s in. His manic energy contrasts with Hank’s at the same time it forces him to break out of his funk.

It’s a reasonable funk, I suppose. Fired, blacklisted, ((I noted this the other day as well. Thursday nights on USA is now The Blacklist Block.)) confronted with the fact that his fiancee doesn’t see the world the way he sees it, debts mounting fast…I don’t know if I’d be watching daytime TV, but I’d be downloading a LOT of porn off the internet if that happened to me. In some ways, Evan is the Barney to Hank’s Ted here. He’s more of a cariacture than a real person, more interested in Dionysian pleasures than much else, but has enough heart to know his brother actually needs to be dragged into fun against his will. Costanzo is no NPH (though I did like him,) but I could see Evan as Barney’s wingman.

Once the boys get out to the Hamptons the look of the show settles – sunny, swooping cameras, a little bland. I was hoping for a bit more style with Jace Alexander behind the camera, but maybe a more interesting house style will develop over the course of the season. Then again, with supermodels, beaches, and beautiful homes as eye candy, maybe a more straightforward style is appropriate.

Thanks to Hank’s superhero abilities – attracting medical emergencies and heightened senses ((Okay, here’s the deal. This is summer escape theater, so I don’t really care how realistic it is, but they might have stepped a bit over the line with the girl at the party. Did he see the girl’s pupils in a dark room from ten feet away? How did he recognize the security as ex-Mossad? Their accents plus the shoes they wore? Was there a krav maga move used against a party crasher we didn’t see?)) – he’s able to spot diagnose and save the girl’s life, just to have her fall hard for her hero. And to get Dr. Silver, the current resident of Boris’ guest house and concierge doctor to the rich and infamous, kicked out.

All of this is fine and dandy, but what really matters to Hank is his meet-cute with Jill Casey outside the party. You see, the two cutiepies drive identical older cars and bond at valet. ((This is genius. Seriously. GM might be bankrupt, but Saab’s advertising agency should be given a parade. In the single slickest product placement ever, Saab manages to stick two twenty-year-old 900 convertibles into a show where they’ll definitely stand out and be commented on. Saab, the same company that sponsors Burn Notice and gets weekly benefits everytime Michael or Fi drives the hell out of her Saab. Genius.)) Why, if anything could keep this gloomy gus from leaving the Hamptons it might just be this here gal…

Of course it turns out that Jill is the administrator of the local “taco stand” hospital and checked up on Hank. His phone number made the rounds of Hampton society faster than Hank’s hair kinks up on a humid day, and word is he’s the new concierge doctor of choice. It was Jill’s community responsibility to find out that Hank was a reputable doctor who’d been screwed over by his hospital. It has nothing to do with his dreamy eyes, I’m sure.

Once Divya Katdare joins HankMed – Evan’s prefered name for their new venture – the ball is rolling downhill too fast for Hank to stop it even if he wanted to. Oh wait, he does. Until his date with Jill. Then I guess it’s lucky he likes fried seafood.

There is definitely something mysterious and dangerous going on with Boris. It’s one thing to want to avoid police and scandal at your party because something big is in the works. It’s something entirely more disturbing when you pay someone with a gold brick. That’s flashy, but most importantly it’s not readily traceable. Boris was too quick to offer the guest house to Hank, kicking out Silver. I wonder that he doesn’t need a doctor on hand for whatever is coming down the pipe.

Overall, I found the pilot engaging and entertaining, hitting the summer sweet spot clean in the middle. I do hope we might see a bit more panache in the direction moving forward and get to see more of Campbell Scott’s Boris and a lot of Christine Ebersole’s New Parts Newberg. My only concern is that there might be some big mystery arc to muck up the works. I don’t want to learn that Hank’s termination was part of some conspiracy involving Boris and dancing bears that have escaped from a traveling Russian circ…

Well, maybe if the conspiracy really did involve dancing bears.

What did everyone else think? Should I recap these each week, or just touch on them when something interesting happens?