Thursday, June 04, 2009

Royal Pains, "Pilot": This is how it's done in Worsthampton

I gave my thoughts on "Royal Pains" in this morning's column. Anybody watch? If so, what did you think?


R.A. Porter said...

I liked it a lot, TheWife not so much. She'll give it a few weeks, but since she didn't even like Evan, I'm pretty sure she isn't going to warm to the show.

It comes down mostly to what one thinks of Mark Feuerstein. I've liked his work before and think he was solid in the pilot. I suspect he'll get more confident in Hank's skin and take him out of his shell after a few episodes. I've always found him charming, so I think I'll be happy with his choices.

There were some things that were a little annoying for me and I'm concerned it might have an ill-fitting serial aspect with Boris' secret machinations, but overall I thought it was fun and a good fit to the Thursday night Blacklist Block on USA.

Also...Saab's advertising agency is brilliant. I know they have a Burn Notice deal and assume they now have one here, giving them two straight hours on Thursday night. In neither case do the placements feel shoehorned in. Here, they did it with 20-year-old cars and it worked perfectly.

More of my thoughts in my review.

Unknown said...

I went into it expecting not to like it - I watched it only because it was on right after the Burn Notice season premiere - but I was pleasantly surprised. Didn't like the whole "rich people" atmosphere in the ads, but Hank seems to be a pretty down-to-earth character.

cgeye said...

I liked it because of the hospital administrator who neatly resolved the tension of a decent man working for amoral people -- if he doesn't do it, those people clog up the hospital that people with more chronic/urgent problems need. If Hank becomes a concierge doctor, he's keeping the rich in their place, which is kind of revolutionary when you think about it.

Also, the show brought the pretty, and after the opening scenes showed that beautiful, shallow people live everywhere, I was more sympathetic to the Hamptons residents who were so rich they simply didn't have to think about it much.

I hope to God they never show Hank's ex-fiance again. I know she'll be back, but I hope they'll have the confidence not to revisit her now-that-Hank-has-bank...

Unknown said...

I thought it was alright. There were a couple cheesy moments. The end where he was at the beach was also a bit forced.

As a dramedy of sorts, it's fine. I'm just not sure this is the sort of thing that has staying power ... based upon what we know from the pilot. What's going to make people want to come back to watch this? I mean, watching a bunch of rich people isn't exactly it. Is it going to be a pure procedural? Are they going to do a case of the week? If so ... huh? Seems a bit unrealistic to focus on just one case.

What's the motivation? I guess it could be Mark Feuerstein trying to get back his old job ... a la Michael Westen, but they keep hinting at change being a good thing in the pilot, so I find that as an unlikely long term focus to build around.

Is this going to be a show about loss of identity? they hint at it with that comment about do we become what we treat (or something like that). If so, what is it about identity that drags us back?

Off the top, I'd probably build season 1 around his search for identity. Here's the biggest thing I didn't like about the promo - they used the first half hour to basically set up that he was a mess. That could've been done in bits and pieces. Not sure what sort of cliffhanger - maybe he gets an offer to go back to top level ER work and has to make a choice.

I'd build the later seasons about him suddenly enjoying the lifestyle, but losing Jill Casey in the process. I think the best long term endgame would be something about the free clinic coming to pass and Hank helping Jill make it happen.

I dunno, a lot of thoughts running in the mind. I thought it was alright, but there's just some nagging feeling of ... so?

Tom said...

My reaction to this is comparable to my reaction to "The Unusuals" -- it's a pleasant way to kill an hour, but not compelling as drama and a little too impressed with its own wit.

Positives: Campbell Scott. Christine Ebersole. Whoever that kid was that played the hemophiliac. My God, that's a great supporting cast.

Negatives: The male lead and the romantic interest are bleah. Their generic TV charisma is in super-bold contrast to the likes of Scott and Ebersol. Also, some of the humor crosses the line separating 'witty' and 'whacky.' Ah hates whacky. And, oh yeah...they had one of the most egregiously annoying product placements ever ('cause I'm assuming no professional writer would end a key scene with a plug for Netflix unless he was paid to do so).

My main question: If no one wanted to watch "Dirty Sexy Money" in 2007 when times were still more-or-less good, why would they want to watch this in 2009, with the economy in the crapper?

Peter said...

My primary problem with it is that it will be constrained by time. What does Hank do in the off season? Follow Boris to St. Moritz or wherever he spends the winter? Work at the local hospital? If so how do you show that and make it compelling?

jcpbmg said...

I too liked it a lot more than I thought I would... also do have a small soft spot for Mark Fuerstein (as he's another option to have a real jew play a jew)

Peter- I was also wondering what Hank is going to do during the fall/winter. However if this is just going to be a summer series they might never have to address that

Karen said...

Right now, I'm 17 minutes in (they just showed the fat woman at the Hampt-Inn, in order to establish that the brothers aren't staying with the beautiful people), and I'm continuing to watch ONLY to get to Campbell Scott, whom I adore.

Otherwise I'd be out. I don't like either of the brothers and, frankly, having been to the Hamptons once, I find nothing attractive about spending an hour there every week.

And this has nothing to do with Feuerstein, whom I've liked in other milieus. I just find this story and characters unpleasant.

The music's good, though.

Kelley said...

Having not watched "Burn Notice" I came into this show with no expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hank seems like a sympathetic character who will grow on the audience as the show continues. I'm really looking forward to the next episode.

amitytv said...

This was just ok. We will watch a couple more weeks to get a sense of what it will be before we commit or bail.
Really the only thing that bothered us was at the end, where Hank takes the house offered to him by Boris. Why would he need to do that? We felt like he was attaching himself to something he would not want to be a part of, when he could have simply gotten a condo or some other place to live with his gold bar where he would not have to answer to some rich guy calling the shots. It didn't make any sense to us that after establishing that Hank was reluctant to be the concierge doctor in the first place, that he would also be willing to put himself in the position of possibly doing whatever Boris wanted him to do.

Hyde said...

I had the same general feeling as toonsterwu: I can't figure out what the show is supposed to be about. There's no potential danger for the lead character; the tone seems off for a medical procedural (I can't see Royal Pains as a series where we're ever going to worry that a patient of the week is ever going to die); and the "fish out of water" stuff can only go so far since when you get right down to it, a good looking young doctor can only be so out of water in the Hamptons.

Maybe they can find a way to hold the idle rich up to much-deserved ridicule, but that's not really what USA does.

LA said...

If this was on during the fall season, I'd be out. But considering it's summer with very little nonreality programming, I'll keep watching for now. I hope Campbell Scott is on every week. I do love that guy.

Lane said...

who played the old Hamptons concierge doctor that Hank displaces? A "that guy" I quite can't place.

Art Fleming said...

This was okay. I think the lead is lacking charisma so its weird that all those beautiful woman throw themselves at him.
Also, i dont like those 90/120 Minutes pilots that basically just set up a character based procedural, i guess (i mean im not completely sure what the actual episodes will be like and i think i should). Its a lot of exposition and theres no tension because of cause we know hes going to stay there. If they had just thrown us in there like the House pilot or something it would have worked much better.

Cameron Hughes said...

You know, while I struggle to get even basic MediCal(I'm a cripple, so therefore high risk to insurance companies), its a little hard for me to stomach filthy rich fat cats getting their own private doctor on call. That woman with her "flat tire" almost made me physically sick in how much I hated her.

Unknown said...

What's the deal with Hank's PA? She seemed to be smart enough and fairly well off that if she was interested in medicine that she'd have just gone to medical school.

Anonymous said...

The old concierge doctor looked like Dr Cusamano from The Sopranos. imdb isn't listing it though, so I could be wrong.

Boli-Nica said...

I thought Mark Feuerstein did a good job at playing the skilled Dr. - with the right mix of cockiness but with some self-doubt. Thinking of the Dr. Rob Morrow played in Northern Exposure. Except the Hamptons is not Alaska. And the show did a decent job of overstating differences between the New York City Doctor and Hamptons socialites.
An M.D. -even an unemployed one- is still at the upper income levels that begin aspiring to live in the Hamptons. Basically the good Doc is a couple of pegs beneath the uber-rich at the Hamptons, but in 10 years could well be living among them.

Needs better chemistry with the brother. Brother character was well cast, and has potential to grow.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

I also hated the fiancée and hope never to see her again--no chemistry with the lead whatsoever. I also liked Tucker a lot and wonder who the previous concierge doctor was--he really looked familiar. The pilot was okay--I'll reserve judgement until after I see a couple more episodes. I also noticed how irritating the use of the music was--especially compared to a show like Breaking Bad, where the writers seem to understand the dramatic value of silence. And maybe it's just because I am nowhere near the social level of the people in the series, but I had a hard time being at all empathetic to anybody at the party; but maybe I wasn't supposed to be. (Tucker was different, though, even though he was so rich. He was just a kid whose father neglected him. I guess money doesn't make any difference there.)

Tracey said...

@Alan: really, I think your review was a little unfair to this show, saying nothing about it except its comparison to Burn Notice, which I don't think it has much in common with. It's not a great show, but I think there is more to say about it than, "like Burn Notice, it has three main characters, two male and one female..."

The setup for this was much much too long. The whole business of getting him fired, watching his life go into the crapper, watching his brother drive him to a cheap hotel in the Hamptons, con his way into a fancy party... it was unpleasant, depressing, not at all what I was expecting from this show. I know that at some point, you have set up how he came to be in this position, but really, this was too much... and then the long flirtations at the party getting shot down because he wasn't rich before we finally get to the point where he's saving a girl's life... just too much of not-a-very-good-thing.

From that point on... it really grated on me they never established why he doesn't want to be the concierge doctor for these people. If it was all "emergencies" like the "flat tire," I would understand why NY's best trauma surgeon wouldn't want to do that. But he starts out by saving a woman from near death by toxic exposure, then follows up by saving a teenage hemophiliac who is dying from bleeding into his chest cavity... that's not exactly Love Boat doctor problems. And they're willing to pay him very well to live in paradise and be on call. Why does he think that's such a bad thing? The show never tells us. Is it because they're rich and privileged, and he lost his last job for failing to treat a rich and privileged person? But rich and privileged people have real medical problems that need to be treated too, and it's not like he has a whole lot of other options. All it takes is a little conversation with his brother to explain why he doesn't want this job, but it's not there. All we get is, "no, I don't want to do it," and never why.

The closest we come to a "why" is when the head of the hospital thanking him for taking these privilege monkeys off her hands, but he seemed to be more interested in the fact that she was a beautiful woman who wasn't rich than in anything she said. They throw in that line asking if you are what you treat, but I didn't get a strong enough sense that these people were so terrible that he wouldn't want to treat them.

It was a pleasant enough diversion, but like others here, I find myself wondering what they are going to do from week to week to maintain this series.

FYI: The thing I loved about the SAAB product placement (and product placement usually makes me gag) was that it was two people driving 20-year-old cars... what a clever way to slip in a message about the car's durability!

Anonymous said...

I wonder about the love interest, he's basically interested in a female version of himself--she's a doctor, she drives the same vintage Saab (even the same color), and she shares the same philosophical views. Yawn!

GabbyD said...

i don't get the lukewarm reception. it seems like its a fun show :)

Boli-Nica said...

saw the show again..... actually liked the energy level: the music party atmosphere, beach. Kind of what you need in a summer show.

Dr. Hank needs to mellow out a bit, and establish more of a rapport with his brother. Paulo Constanzo is pretty funny - and seems well casted. The characters hopefully will have more chemistry in later shows.

CincyNat said...

Perfect summer fluff. I'll watch. The older concierge doc was played by Robert Lupone, Patti Lupone's brother. He was Zack on All My Children in the 80's. Yeah, I'm old.

cgeye said...

Oh, heck, Ginny, that's where I remember him... but I'm still wondering, as mentioned above, why he accepted the guest cottage instead of living in a location where he didn't have to pass ex-Mossad security, and where his boss will know all his business.

If discretion is something Hank wants to control, why would he allow Boris to have that power to tell him where to go and whom to treat? 'Cause no matter how pretty Campbell Scott is, sooner or later his character will become the Big Bad worse than Hank's old hospital, when the writers' room gets bored....

Anonymous said...

I really liked the show. The brother was a great, had some really good laugh out loud moments. I was cringing when they were trying to crash the party. The Tucker kid was cool. I thought the actor had good comedic timing and was believable on the transition from the girlfriend /yogurt comment to passing out in Hank's arms. I wouldn't mind seeing more of that character.

Tom said...


Whoa. Excellent post! You nailed it.

I guess some future show will reveal our hero's aversion to the Hamptons...but if they don't make an effort -- if it's all ginned-up 'conflict' without any basis in the guy's character outside of general contempt for the wealthy -- then the show is doomed.

Anonymous said...

@Andrew, my guess -- based on the phone call with her folks -- is it would be some family thing. But who knows? That said, I think she had some of the best scenes in the pilot, so I hope she gets more time.

Like others, I felt like it had its moments, but if it weren't summertime, I probably wouldn't stick around. That said, there were some really fun moments as well, and I thought a lot of the women were pretty easy on the eyes.

I have to admit I got a chuckle out of everyone having figured out where he lived and his cell phone number so quickly. I was surprised that he didn't offer to help with the free clinic (similar to Peter Krause's supposed charity work is DSM) or get roped into it, which would seem to balance the type of medicine he doesn't care for.

Sharon said...

Well, Alan, our diametrically opposed views of "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains" shows once again that you can't please everyone! I watched the first episode of BN and never went back. Why? Because I found the lead actor to be uncharismatic, uninteresting and somewhat off-putting. And I set up a Season Pass on my TiVo for RP for the opposite reason -- I've always found Mark Feuerstein to be a talented and interesting actor in search of the right lead role.

I recorded the pilot and watched with low expectations and by the end found that I was looking forward to the next episode. Is it perfect? No, at all. But I found it entertaining and interesting and, most importantly, watchable. Not so much the actor who plays the brother, but I guess you can't have everything.

So I'm looking forward to the upcoming episodes. I hope they live up to the pilot.

Anonymous said...

It was cute and had some pizazz. I might not be as inclined once Leverage returns as my fave popcorn empty thrill show.

Andrew- I agree, they better explain why the PA isn't her own darn concierge dr STAT!


Febrifuge said...

To Andrew and others who ask why Divya, who seems so sharp, didn't just go to med school herself:

A valid question, and you've hit on the problem with the word 'Assistant.' Everyone in the world messes this up, and the producers of this show are not helping. I'm a PA, and I have Masters degree-level training. In medicine.

It's much less lengthy (two or three years of grad school, instead of four plus residency), and there's stuff the docs learn and use and get good at (which many will never again use after school) which we don't get. But it's definitely still medicine.

I'm trained to work with an MD supervising me, and in most places "supervise" means "be able to take a phone call if I want to run something by you." By law I can do anything my supervising MD can do, as long as it's spelled out in our practice supervision agreement, which has to be on file with the state licensing board.

So, I'm hoping as the show goes on, we get more about Divya's family; I heard somewhere they wanted her to get an MBA and she got an MS instead. I'd like to see her practicing medicine (as she is trained to do). Dr. Hank would be her boss, but she's not "his assistant" in the traditional sense of how we use "assistant."

Man, if they had stuck with "Physician Associate" in the 60s, this would be less confusing.

But of course, the Hampton-ites would never accept "not a real doctor" treating them, no matter how competent. If Hank sinks back into depression and squalor for a few weeks, a sort of medical Remington Steele angle on things might be apt, and kind of fun.

Febrifuge said...

Oh, and Alan: a wag of the finger to you, for saying "physician's assistant" in your Star-Ledger column. Again, the producers of this very show are not helping, but it's Physician Assistant.

Yes, we're dependent (as opposed to independent) but we are medical professionals; an admittedly fine line, but an important one. We're supposed to be too busy seeing patients to get coffee or answer phones.

When I made nine bucks an hour drawing blood and hauling bedpans, I was somebody's assistant. Now that I have six-figure school debt, I need better income than that job could ever pay me.