Saturday, June 06, 2009

Royal Pains

Royal Pains is the latest offering from the USA network. I've always appreciated USA's tagline: "Characters Welcome." The basic premise is as following. Up-and-coming New York doctor Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) properly triages two patients, working on the kid with the higher medical needs; however, this results in the death of a wealthy hospital trustee. He is then fired from his position and blacklisted at all the area hospitals. Broke and seemingly depressed, his brother Evan (Paolo Constanzo) drags him to the Hamptons where he makes a dramatic medical rescue at a party. Hank inadvertently finds himself the Hamptons' newest on-call doctor.

It's an interesting dichotomy that Hank saved the "poor" kid instead of the rich hospital trustee and now is in the Hamptons working for the rich elite. Of course, this is why Hank fights the idea of becoming the Hampton's newest on-call MD for the majority of the pilot. He has the notion that "We are who we care for" stuck in his head. At times the writing was quick witted and perfectly acted. The next moment the actors are spewing these wooden, dull lines and the plot seemed stuck, as in "let's just get through this pilot so we can get to the good stuff." I think this could be a show worth sticking with, at least for the summer. Now that we have our main characters introduced, Hank has accepted his calling, and there is a promise of a love story, things are bound to get interesting.

Of course the show's premise raises questions. My MD decided to trim down his practice about 4 or 5 years ago by going this route. For a $1500 annual retainer, he is available to his patients day and night. Since I rarely visit the doctor, I left his practice and found somebody else. However, I live in a nice area and I've heard that my former MD is doing quite well for himself. Fine and dandy for the people who can afford him, but what about the rest of us? There are many patients who benefit from house call MDs (and now there's possible legislation to support that!) Hank's love interest is a hospital administrator so I'm hoping the show will address the many difficulties people face in accessing and paying for healthcare.

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