Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pilot Review: Royal Pains

Royal Pains (USA)
Premiered June 4 at 10pm

USA’s newest show is airing after “Burn Notice” each week, and it’s being advertised in an extraordinarily similar fashion. Mark Feuerstein traipses along the beach, receiving countless comments and innuendo about his being an alternately attractive and questionable doctor. The previews indicated that the show might have been thinner than air, but luckily, it appears there’s more to it.

Feuerstein’s Hank is a doctor at a hospital in New York City whose choice to prioritize a crashing patient over a more stable billionaire lands him on the street and out of a job anywhere in the medical community. He’s clearly a brilliant doctor and manages to save someone’s life in his first night vacationing with his brother in the Hamptons. Soon enough, he’s earned a permanent gig as an on-call physician for the wealthy elite who reside in the Hamptons.

The pilot episode takes a bit of time setting itself up, utilizing an extra 15 minutes to allow for Hank to lose his job and build up enough motivation (or rather, drink enough of his beer) to actually take his brother up on his offer to check out the Hamptons. For a while, it feels shaky, and seems a bit too preposterous for its own good. By the end of the episode, however, it looks like this show may have a good leg on which to stand.

The cast is the primary reason this show has a chance to succeed. Feuerstein was stranded previously in the lead role on a tragically awful NBC comedy, “Good Morning Miami,” which didn’t provide him with any opportunity to show his talents amidst good writing. Here he’s a perfect mix of determined and laidback, with a slight sense of sarcasm that doesn’t overwhelm his character’s likeability. Paulo Costanzo has a similar black spot on his resume with another poorly conceived NBC comedy, “Joey,” but here it’s clear that he has good comedic timing as Hank’s brother, and having him in a dual role as Hank’s accountant should make for some good humor along the way. The two starring ladies have yet to really show their stuff, but for the moment Jill Flint’s chemistry with Feuerstein and Reshma Shetty’s smart chattiness are promising. Campbell Scott’s guest spot as this week’s token rich guy was a nice treat as well. With this crew leading the way, “Royal Pains” has a half-decent shot at nipping the heels of its USA idol “Burn Notice.”

How will it work as a series? The pilot managed to introduce several cases with very different people involved while setting up the overarching story, so hopes are high for future episodes where setup isn’t crucial. Feuerstein and his supporting cast should be able to find their token funk and anchor a stalwart show that might just have some life in it. The only problem is, what happens when summer ends? Well…
How long will it last? …luckily, that’s not a problem for USA. This show is being marketed explicitly as a summer series, and there’s no reason it can’t just keep airing summer after summer. USA quickly picked up the much weaker “In Plain Sight,” and with “Monk” going off the air, “Royal Pains” looks just like the type of show the network could use. I expect a second season pickup any day now. I know I’ll be checking in at least for a second round.

Pilot grade: B

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