Friday, June 12, 2009

Royal Pains, "There Will Be Food": The gluten glutton

Spoilers for episode two of "Royal Pains" coming up just as soon as I give you a severance check...

Even though I believe "There Will Be Food" was produced as the series' third episode, rather than its second, it felt like an extra pilot -- as if someone on the show or at USA felt they had neglected to establish the "give to the poor" aspect of Hank's new Robin Hood existence in the original pilot(*), and that they'd best do that quickly before telling other stories.

(*)That, of course, ignores the fact that the pilot already made clear that Hank was doing a public service by catering to these rich people, by keeping them from wasting hospital resources on minor problems.

Because they had to spend so much time on additional premise-building, and because the ballerina's case didn't offer any opportunities for Hank to do his Dr. MacGyver thing, "There Will Be Food" was less entertaining than the real pilot. On the plus side, though, I thought Mark Feuerstein was much more relaxed and engaging here than he was a week ago. Whether or not he's too bland to carry a series is still an open question, but a Hank who embraces this new life, even a little, is more interesting than a Hank who's always "aw, shucks, this isn't really what I do."

What did everybody else think? And are you surprised they did the Michael Westen-ish expositional narration at the top, and then did a long credits sequence with theme song on top of that? What is this, 1983?


Karen said...

Wow, you're still watching this? You're a better man than I am.

I found the pilot unappealing in the extreme. Not only was Feuerstein's character smug and self-righteous and his brother simply irritating, but the notion of spending any time with the sort of people who habituate the Hamptons is like being flayed alive and dipped in hot salt water.

floretbroccoli said...

Is the annoying family a USA Network trope? Madeline Westen. Brandi and Jinx. The CFO of HankMed.

Is that what the programming department does? "I'd like to pick up your pilot, but where is the annoying mother/brother/sister?"

Alan Sepinwall said...

Madeline got a lot less annoying as that series has gone along, and is now unarguably an asset, rather than a drag, to the show.

The others? Not so much.

R.A. Porter said...

I actually enjoyed this one better than the pilot because it looked less like it wanted to be McGruber MD and more like a light romp. Plus, I *love* Tucker and Libby and was happy to see they'll be staying around.

As for Hank's brother, I don't find him annoying in the least.

floretbroccoli said...

True. But they must have needed her to be annoying at first, to get the show on the air.

Asta said...

I enjoyed this episode more than the pilot. We're past the ridiculous set of circumstances that allowed Hank to be in the position he is now. Hank was, as you say, more relaxed. His brother I found less annoying. And while cliched in many respects, I am enjoying Hank's friendship with Tucker. Tucker may actually be my favorite character. I like the small moments where we see his father's neglect is affecting him more than he lets on.

Brandy said...

Madeline on burn notice rocks. She took a while to grow on me but she has.

On In Plain Sight I think I could deal with either Brandi or Jinx but both is overkill. I wish Malina's character wasn't such a Marty Stu but I like that Brandi is trying to be a better person this year especially since I think it's going to be a struggle. But when you have both Brandi and Jinx messing up all the time? It's just too much.

Hank's brother? He's why I haven't watched the second episode. It's on my Tivo but last night I was just like, eh... whatever.

JCT said...

I thought this episode was far weaker than the pilot. They treated the ballerina like a princess who has been locked away in a tower her whole life rather than a grown woman. The love interest (so boring I can't bother to remember her name) is one-dimensional. It's too bad they made his ex-fiancee such a shallow b***h. I'd like to have seen her pop back up as someone who really did love Hank, even if she didn't like the way he handled his dismissal from the hospital.

And Hank's too-good-to-be-true characterization leaves me cold. I'd find him alot more interesting if he let the 16 year old rich kid get drunk in his own home, or took a moment to ogle the 16-year old hottie in the bikini. I'd prefer a lead character with human flaws and human appetites over a preachy Dudley Do Right.

Stacey said...

I'm a fan of Tucker, too, and hope that he and Libby will be recurring characters. They give the super rich on the Hamptons the vulnerable and human feel that I think is needed for us to care about what happens.

The brother can be funny, but pushes the line toward annoying at times. I suspect, though, that may balance out eventually.

I'm with JCT in that I don't find the love interest interesting at all. It's too...forced or cliched or expected or something. Blah. New love interest, please.

But I'm still watching for now. :)

Bix said...

I zoned out pretty quickly except for noticing the Reynolds Channel marina scenes in Long Beach/Island Park subbing for the Hamptons.

jcpbmg said...

Fuerstein's imitation of Andrew McCarthy was great... but other than that I have to agree with everyone else the episode did feel quite repetitive

Also has anyone else seen the Burn Notice/Royal Pains crossover promo where Michael Westin sends Hank a package with C4

Tracey said...

I noticed that the opening narration did an about-face on Hank's attitude: the concierge job is no longer something he doesn't want; it's his second chance in paradise. Perhaps at some point between the filming of the pilot and the series pickup, somebody realized what we did: that it didn't make any sense for him to refuse a good-paying job in a beautiful location when he had no alternatives.

I think this episode was a bit better than the pilot, but it's still just a mildly amusing diversion, rather than something I'm eager to watch. There were a couple of things here that made me scratch my head:

1) Ballerina girl passes out after eating a hot dog. So the brother's solution to this is to ... feed her? When nobody seems to know at this point what caused her reaction? Sheesh, why don't you just point a shotgun at her...

2) Hank is so very concerned about doctor-patient confidentiality that he can't even tell his brother that he was talking to the ballerina for medical reasons (which, by the way, wouldn't remotely have been a violation of confidentiality, though telling him what she said would have been)... and yet he's OK with reading somebody's letter about a medical concern and going out to visit him uninvited?

But I'm definitely liking the rich teenaged boy character (Tucker?). He's a kid who clearly has more money than he knows what to do with, and does not have the slightest problem with wasting it frivolously, and yet he still manages to be a likeable character. I loved his line in the pilot, "Have you ever used a blender? You're welcome." Also his line, "Don't make any Billy Joel references -- he lives within hearing distance."

As far as the drinking thing somebody mentioned... you know, in the real world I don't think anybody would hesitate to let him drink, because he clearly wasn't planning to get drunk on vintage wine, but the censors would never let you get away with allowing teenagers to drink on TV, even on cable.

I had seen in the previews that Andrew McCarthy was going to be in this episode, but I never expected he was going to be Tucker's father! Gawd, I feel old... I'm wondering if they rethought that character after the pilot. In the pilot, he's somebody who doesn't work at all, who inherited a vast fortune and spends it frivolously collecting things and travelling. It seemed to me that McCarthy was impatient because he had somewhere important to be. (I'm not sure if that was actually in the dialog or if that was just the way he played it). I suppose somebody who is that frivolous could think that sunbathing in Cancun was urgent business.

Unknown said...

So far this show is just kinda "okay" to me. A harmless way to kill time during the summer, but it certainly isn't appointment TV like Burn Notice or In Plain Sight.

Evan grates a bit, and Jill is a little too one-dimensional. Both she and Hank are the good little heroes fighting for the little guy, and that can get real vanilla and real boring real quick.

And I'm kinda "meh" on Hank as the super-doc. The ballerina had some rare condition, and yet Hank could diagnose it off the top of his head. Wasn't he a surgeon in his "old" life? Seems that would mean he would be a bit out of practice on the other stuff. I think it would actually make him a bit more interesting if he had to struggle to figure this stuff out a bit or actually had to try to look stuff up. Actual doctors have to do that all the time.

But on the plus side, I really like Tucker. I'm glad that he's a regular character.

marenamoo said...

I am going to stick with this show for the simple fact that I think USA knows what they are doing with the Characters Welcome brand. I love Burn Notice and In Plain Sight (although I would lose the sister). Monk and Psych are just fun and established. So I will give the network time to figure out where they are going with the show.

Having said that - I am not sure who is the character here. The leads are either horribly bland like Hank and his love interest. Or too quirky to be believed - crazy social climbing brother and poor little rich girl assistant who happens to have a completely stocked mobile clinic just waiting for Hank to show up. I agree that Tucker and Libby are the two most interesting least-cliched characters.

Also the caper of the week are weak. Rich clients - leaky implant week one and fainting ballerina that he diagnoses with one little meter and two bites of food - no suspense. Poor client - diagnose with a visual from the dock and come back with Interferon. Again no conflict over treating poor vs rich and who has priority.

So far very little character conflict and bland COTWs. But still I will give it time because of the track record of USA.

Sean said...

The first thing that came to mind when I saw Andrew McCarthy's rich dude was I remembered he probably would have played the exact same role on the "Gossip Girl" prequel that didn't get picked up for next season :(

DeeTV said...

Gee, I couldn't get past the first 15 minutes of the original pilot. Boring, very non-appealing main characters. I can't even stand the commercials for this show.

I even gave the pilot 2 shots since I have it on my DVR. But I still couldn't get any further than 10 minutes the second time.

I wanted to check out what all of you were saying about the show and after reading a few comments I deleted the show from my DVR and cancelled the recording of future episodes.

See you all on some of the other threads!

Anonymous said...

They still haven't explained why the "assistant" isn't her own doctor and WHY exactly did Miss Sweetheart have to call him up to see HER friend just to be stubborn enough to force her to get a burn checked out???

I'm no raging feminist here but cmon...


Alan Sepinwall said...

Someone in the comments for the pilot did a pretty good job of explaining why Divya might have chosen to be a Physician's Assistant rather than a doctor (and why, in retrospect, the profession would have been better off being known as a Physician's Associate).

schmatever said...

My opinion is that the biggest thing this show suffers from is laziness. We are supposed to believe gold bars are light and that Evan wasn't trying to kill the ballerina with food? Along with continuing to feed her after her fainting spell that Tracey mentioned, Evan set food on the table in broad daylight only to have it remain there until well after sunset before being consumed.

After this episode was over, I felt like the gold bar in the pilot and the model plane in this episode were indicative of the problem. Nifty props used as conventions that didn't go anywhere. Here's the coulda shouldas... #1. drop the gold bar off at the free clinic anonymously
#2. not have the saintly doctor smile wickedly when the supposedly mature teenager crashes a toy plane like an out-of-character goon and instead have the boy auction it for charity or at least attach a funny message to it and buzz some annoying rich neighbor

I think USA's "winning formula" has met it's match in a show where mustering great writing or stand out performances just hasn't been in the cards. Now that I know that this was actually the third and not the second episode, I am that much more amazed at how much the show does NOT have its act together.

Febrifuge said...

Kara: Hank wasn't a surgeon, he was an emergency medicine doc. And beyond that, in the pilot he mentioned having done a fellowship in toxicology (which is a real thing, and which is sometimes done by EM docs). So it's not so weird that he'd recognize some obscure, House-ian acute reaction.

But as Schmatever says, there is a certain laziness on the part of the writers and showrunners; they fail to connect their own dots often enough that even after two episodes, it's noticeable.

EmeraldLiz, the lack of explanation about what Divya is and does is a part of that pattern of missed opportunities for clarity. They've hinted at it, and I'm hoping they flesh it out as we go, but there are plenty of reasons to want be a PA rather than an MD (I know what mine were, anyhow).

Unfortunately they get a lot wrong about how a medical practice works with a midlevel on board, and fail to explain that the word 'Assistant' doesn't actually mean here what it normally means.

The American Association of PAs attempts to clear it up, kind of. (The 'apostrophe-S' syndrome that even our kind host Alan falls prey to is another sad reminder that we have a long way to go.)