Hank Lawson [Mark Feuerstein] is one of the best emergency doctors in New York City – which usually make him a keeper in one of the biggest hospitals in the city. When he decides to save the life of a neighborhood kid – after making sure an ailing benefactor of the hospital was stable – things go wrong and the rich benefactor dies. The guy’s family gets him blacklisted in every hospital in town so, after much urging from his brother [Paulo Costanzo], the two head off to The Hamptons – where Hank is introduced to the concept of concierge medicine. Thus begins USA’s new medical series with a twist, Royal Pains [USA, Thursdays, 10/9C – following Burn Notice].
One of the interesting things about the Royal Pains premiere is that we get to see Hank at his very best and very worst in the first fifteen minutes of the show. We cheer when he makes the right choice in emergency and we could really hate him by the end of pity party montage. It’s a tribute to Feuerstein’s skill that we can see something, even in the self-pitying Hank, that we stick around for the introduction of Evan [Costanzo] and his plan to treat Hank to a weekend of partying in The Hamptons – even if Evan is impersonating a relative of the party’s host – a mysterious German baron named Boris [Campbell Scott].
While at the party, a beautiful female guest collapses and Hank has to save her from the house doctor, who has made assumptions as to her problem. Impressed, Boris suggests that Hank become The Hamptons’ new concierge doctor – making house calls for the rich and ailing. It’s an idea that Hank finds unappealing until he gets a call to help a teenaged boy’s girlfriend following an automobile accident. There’s a twist there that makes Hank believe he can make a difference.
Besides, there’s a beautiful Indian woman named Divya [Reshman Shetty] who is so determined to become Hank’s assistant [complete with an SUV of medical supplies] and a very grateful model whom Evan uses to sabotage any thoughts Hank might have of leaving. Plus, there’s the possibility that Hanks can use the money he makes as a concierge doctor to help the no-rich residents of The Hamptons – the ones who do all the jobs that make it possible for the rich sit around in the sun [hence the Robin Hood of Medicine…].
The incisively written Royal Pains premiere was written by series creator Andrew Lenchewski and he really brings the characters into focus quickly. The relationship between Hank and his CPA brother, Evan feels real – Evan’s nagging to get Hank out of his dark, messy condo hits just the right notes. Jace Alexander’s direction manages to do what the best USA series do – keep things moving along at a brisk without losing any of the character development. From interviews with various Royal Pains personnel, I get the impression that Hank’s decision to stay in The Hamptons will have a profound effect on both.
Final Grade: B