ROYAL PAINS “Pilot”: St. Hank of the Hamptons

Pilots are tricky beasts. The need to introduce the characters and situations that provide the foundation for the entire show often gum up the storytelling, creating a checklist approach (“Handsome protagonist–means well and is funny. Check!”) instead of something more elegant.

Royal Pains is not the pilot to break this pattern. While the show’s premise is established with relative economy, the characters have little dimension or shading. The finacee who dumps Hank when he falls on hard times? We know she’s not good enough for him because she states in her three minutes of screentime that she wanted to spend their money on fancy wedding paraphenalia rather than on Hank’s legal bills. Hank’s brother is a good-time boy who takes advantange of the moment. The Hamptonites Hank treats are self-centered and spoiled. Lather, rinse, repeat.

On the other side of the coin, Hank is good but no less one-dimensional. Hank knows medicine better than anyone! Hank would never accept money for practicing medicine! (Until the end of the episode.) Hank is honest! Hank would love to serve as a surrogate father to a poor little rich boy! He’s clearly meant to be with the Hamptons’ hospital administrator, as she is good. She is so good that she knows Hank is right. Because he is Hank!

Maybe Royal Pains‘ aches and pains will be limited to the pilot–as predicted, Mark Feuerstein is adorable, and while Paulo Costanzo gets little to do but be a rascal as Hank’s brother, he’s a charming rascal indeed. The musical choices are less than fresh (really, if songs have been featured on iTouch and Target commercials, they’re not going to serve very well to set a scene), and some of the more melodramatic lines are clunkers (“Why didn’t you tell me you’re a hemophiliac?!?” set me to giggling when I wasn’t supposed to be). But the banter between the brothers is snappy, and the main characters are at least charming, so perhaps Royal Pains is worth a second opinion.

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