Royal Pains

In Royal Pains, Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is the brilliant young doctor from New York, forced by circumstances to live and work among odd characters in the Hamptons.

Royal Pains

Airtime: Thursdays, 10pm ET
Cast: Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Constanzo, Remsha Shetty, Jill Flint
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: USA
Air date: 2009-06-04

In 1990, CBS debuted Northern Exposure, a series about a brilliant young doctor from New York forced by financial constraints to live and work among odd characters in the tiny town of Cicely, Alaska. Beloved by critics, the show enjoyed a healthy five-year run. Now, USA has borrowed this formula for Royal Pains: here, Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is the brilliant young doctor from New York, forced by circumstances to live and work among odd characters in... the Hamptons. Same story, opposite end of the economic spectrum.

An erstwhile ER doctor with a promising future, Hank would not have chosen to be a concierge doctor, that is, on call for the rich and famous. But following a rough day at work, he is blackballed in the New York medical community and sued, to boot. His social-climbing fiancée dumps him and his furniture is repossessed.

Only when he has run out of booze and Netflix freezes his account does he get up and out of his apartment, on a weekend road trip with brother Evan (Paulo Constanzo) to the Hamptons. Evan weasels them into a high society party on their first night in town. Predictably, a guest collapses and the resident concierge doctor misreads her condition. Hank intercedes with a correct diagnosis and by morning, word has spread that he's the new concierge doctor.

This even though rejects the offer repeatedly. Most of the series' premiere focuses on how Hank is lured into taking the job. Not surprisingly, it is not the medical challenges that Hank is attracted to, but a woman, in this case the administrator of the local hospital, Jill (Jill Flint), who aspires to open a free clinic for the majority of Hampton residents who don't have money. One can easily imagine the future episode where Hank's former fiancée returns after he has reestablished himself, and Hank must choose between her and the beautiful and far more compassionate Jill.

In addition to the romance, Hank quickly establishes several new friendships. Foremost is Boris (Campbell Scott), the party host who rewards Hank with a gold bar and his guesthouse. He's also rewarded by the local queen of plastic surgery (Christine Ebersole), when he makes her makes "presentable" following the deflation of one of her breast implants. It is only with Tucker (Ezra Miller) that Hank makes an attempt to connect, feeling sympathy for the 16-year-old when his parents refuse to return from their summer vacation after he's involved in a life-threatening car accident.

As all of the above suggests, things tend to happen to Hank. The only decision he makes during this first hour is to break off his engagement, and this only in reaction to his fiancée's ultimatum ("I'll see your postponement and raise you," he tells her). One hopes that Hank will start standing up for himself and acting instead of reacting. Then again, if he had done so in the series' beginning, he wouldn't have found himself in the Hamptons -- and then where would Royal Pains be?

Complicating Hank's ability to run his own life are his brother and Divya (Remsha Shetty), a Hamptons native who has appointed herself as the new concierge doctor's personal assistant. Evan promotes Hank and recruits clients, while Divya has an alarming access to a variety of medical supplies that she carries around in the back of her SUV. Perhaps more importantly, Evan provides self-aware comic relief, a welcome contrast to his brother's constant befuddlement. On entering Hank's apartment during his initial depression, Evan notes that it smells like "a moose has had sex with a bucket of Chinese food."

Evan also helps Hank to understand himself as a "stranger in a strange land." And his difference from his patients seems unlikely to dissipate. Where Northern Exposure's Joel (Rob Morrow) came to care about the residents of Cicely, in spite and even because of their eccentricities, it's hard to imagine Hank establishing any affectionate bonds with his snobby clientele (save for Jill).

It might be argued that the oddballs in Royal Pains fit USA's tagline ("Characters wanted"). But it has a primary problem, in that the weakest character is the lead. We need to feel more connection with Hank to care where he winds up, and it's hard to bond with a man who spends over a month in his underwear drinking beer and feeling sorry for himself. That aside, Royal Pains is a pleasant excursion, with some great one-liners and a chance to tweak its well-worn formula.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

Keep reading... Show less

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.