TV Review: Mid-Season Premiere of ‘Royal Pains’ Offers Great Escape

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CHICAGOUSA’s “Royal Pains” follows the same, odd season structure as the network’s “White Collar,” which returned earlier this week to USA to pick up where it left off in its second season. So, while you would be forgiven for thinking that this is the third season of one of the biggest shows on the mega-successful network, it’s actually 2.5. Who cares what you call it? It’s still great. Television Rating: 4.5/5.0
Television Rating: 4.5/5.0

Paired with the promising “Fairly Legal” (which we will cover in-depth with a review tomorrow), “Royal Pains” picks up exactly where the mid-season premiere left off with Hank (Mark Feurstein), Evan (Paulo Costanzo), and Boris (Campbell Scott) sitting around a table moments before their father (Henry Winkler) falls to the ground, suffering a severe heart attack. Boris had just revealed that the senior Mr. Lawson had not only been arrested but was now working for the government to spy on Boris. Would Hank’s dad survive and would his children forgive him yet again?

Royal Pains
Royal Pains
Photo credit: USA

Meanwhile, in the case-of-the-week structure that USA should put a patent on, a golfer (Tom Cavanagh of “Ed” fame) struggles with a crippling hand condition while Jill (Jill Flint) suffers some unusual side effects after a fall. The B-plot to the A-plot of how Hank and Evan, mostly just the latter, deal with their dad’s heart attack and the surrounding revelations is pretty entertaining, thanks in large part to the copious charm of Cavanagh, always a welcome presence in the guest star role. At the same time, the stunning Divya (Reshma Shetty) is dealing with the emotional and perceived professional problems from her kiss at the end of last season.

Winkler was strong in the first half of season two and he’s even better here. A speech between Winkler and Feurstein on a beach is simply spectacular. Winkler is predictably good and Feurstein has long been underrated. Meanwhile, Costanzo gets some nice dramatic material with Scott and Flint has possibly never been better on the show than she is in this episode. Overall, “Royal Pains” is still confident, clever escapism, the kind that’s much harder to pull off than it looks.

The first season of “Royal Pains” boasted the title of “the best performing freshman year of a cable series ever.” It’s easy to see why and it feels, halfway through season two, that the show is still building momentum. Start watching or get out of the way.

“Royal Pains,” airs on USA and stars Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Jill Flint, Reshma Shetty, Campbell Scott, and Henry Winkler. The mid-season premiere airs on January 20th, 2011 at 8PM CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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