In some ways, the rich are no different from the rest of us: they get sick, get hurt, and need doctors to figure out what makes them ache. "Royal Pains: Season One" follows the misadventures of a doctor who finds himself at their beck and call, and it has the right mix of everything -- luxurious living in the Hamptons, weird medical crises, and a fair amount of humor.
Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) is a successful young E.R. doctor in New York... until the day when a wealthy trustee dies because he focused on saving a dying teenager. Trying to distract him from his woes, his brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) whisks him to an exclusive party in the Hamptons, at the palatial mansion of the reclusive, absurdly-wealthy Boris Rabanisch (Campbell Scott).
Then a woman nearly dies at the party, and Hank manages to save both her and Boris' treasured privacy. As a result, he soon finds himself drafted as the new concierge doctor for the wealthy Hamptons residents, along with Evan and a physician's assistant named Divya (Reshma Shetty). And his work often brings him to see Jill Casey (Jill Flint), the administrator of a local hospital.
Among the cases: breast implant disasters, an epidemic at a "bark mitzvah," a mystery shark bite, a hemophiliac teenager and his "cyberchondriac" girlfriend, and mystery ailments afflicting a senator's son, a ballerina, a horseback rider, a restauranteur, and a bestselling illustrator. Since Hank cares more about curing people than making money, he also provides care for people who can't afford the best -- but the person who needs his help the most may also be the wealthiest.
I normally can't watch medical shows -- every time I try, I develop a massive case of "medical students' disease" and end up having to go watch "Psych" instead. Fortunately, "Royal Pains" is relatively light on the medical gore (despite the "flail chest" episode) -- the biggest problem is that Hank's McGuyveresque medskills sometimes stretch credibility (he makes a microscope out of jeweler's loupes?).
Despite all the deadly medical stuff, the writers also include a lot of light humor (the hot tub disaster) and fun dialogue ("She is my right hand AND my left hand, and occasionally my brain!"). But there are some heavier currents woven into the story, such as Jill's struggles to open a free clinic for the poorer people of the Hamptons. And there's a running mystery about what Boris is doing, and what his motivations might be.
Feuerstein is quite likable and endearing as a kind doctor with a conscience, who cares more about curing people than for money or politics -- and the on-off romance he has with Flint is rather cute, if complicated by Jill's ex-hubby. Costanzo's bumbling Evan can be a bit annoying at times (especially in the season finale), but he does seem to be improving. And Shetty's Divya is awesome: a sharp-tongued, sharp-minded young woman who is trapped into an arranged engagement by her arrogant parents.
And there are some great supporting actors as well -- Scott's elegant and mysterious Boris, Christine Ebersole's kindly but eccentric socialite, and Ezra Miller's neglected teenager Tucker (who becomes a sort of little-brother/nephew figure to Hank).
"Royal Pains" has some areas that need polishing, but the mixture of medical drama and guilty pleasure is pretty addictive stuff. Just don't make Dr. Hank detox you.