After enjoying the first season of medical dramedy Royal Pains, I couldn't wait for season two to start. My patience was rewarded with a season that was stronger and more fun than the first.
Once again, the show centers around Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein). After being fired from a hospital in New York City, he finds himself opening a concierge practice for the rich in the Hamptons. Each episode finds him treating some mysterious malady. For example, there's the heir of an inventor who keeps having strange accidents. One woman seems to be dying of a broken heart. A young man is acting like he is an alcoholic even though he swears he doesn't drink. One of the stars of a reality TV show suddenly becomes sick. And the owner of a food truck suddenly turns antisocial.
In the midst of these medical mysteries, we are treated to the ongoing drama of the lives of Hank and his friends. These storylines occasionally dominate the episodes with the medicine staying in the background. The season opens with Hank and hospital administrator Jill (Jill Flint) split up but still working together to treat poor patients. Hank's brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) finds himself playing a faux beau to a beautiful young woman he seems to be falling for. And Divya (Reshma Shetty), the physician assistant, struggles with her duty to the fulfill the marriage her parents have arranged for her and her desire to actually marry for love. Competition comes to town in the form of Hank's new girlfriend Emily Peck (recurring actress Anastasia Griffith). And Hank and Evan's father Eddie (recurring actor Henry Winkler) shows up in their lives after many years. Does he really want to make amends or does he have an agenda of his own?
With all this stuff going on, each episode is packed. It is all kept afloat easily by the actors. They make these characters fun and lovable; I actually look forward to spending time with them each week. There is not a weak performance in the bunch.
While this is a medical mystery show, it never gets too graphic for me. Heck, I normally steer clear of medical shows, but I love this one. True, most of the diseases are so rare it's hardly believable that Hank would be able to diagnosis them. Likewise, he has a talent for making medical instruments that work out of whatever happens to be around in an emergency. That all adds to the fun.
And make no mistake about it, this show is fun. As I've already said, the characters are so real you just love them and you want to see them happy. Last season, I found that Evan could get on my nerves some, but he's been toned down this season, and I actually enjoyed most of his scenes. All the characters behave in witty banter; there's usually at least one good laugh and multiple chuckles per episode.
The only real weakness of the season comes when they try to wrap up storylines. Quite often, the resolution of an arc that's lasted several episodes or most of the season feels abrupt to me, like they ran out of time to fully develop the ending, so they just throw something out there. It annoyed me a few times, but I still really enjoyed the season.
Because this show has proved to be so popular, they expanded season two to 18 episodes. All of them are presented in widescreen and full surround sound. Extras include scenes deleted from 13 of the episodes, a gag reel, and three episode commentaries. There are also some featurettes on guest stars and the locations of the series. And let me tell you, the locations of this show are definitely part of the fun.
Season two of Royal Pains is like a weekly escape to the Hamptons. It makes me smile from start to finish. If you want a light medical show, this is the one for you.
It's still summer in the Hamptons, and HankMed is busier than ever. But "Royal Pains Season Two" manages to keep shaking up the status quo, lest things get stale -- new love interests, new dilemmas, bizarre medical crises and even a business rival. The biggest problem with this season: not enough Libby and Tucker!
HankMed gets blindsided by a bunch of new crises: Eddie Lawson comes to live in the Hamptons (and even dates one of Hank's patients), and Hank soon suspects that his dad has an ulterior motive for being there. Jill's free clinic ends up in a medical tug-o-war. And as Divya's wedding date approaches, she finds herself falling love with a kind-hearted, studly patient.
Additionally, after Boris whisks the Lawson brothers to Cuba to oversee his medical treatment, a cutthroat concierge doctor named Emily decides to set up shop in the Hamptons. Evan is not happy about this, but Hank soon ends up dating Emily.
And we have the usual array of medical disasters -- lightning strikes, experimental gene treatments, mysterious collapses, Mrs. Newberg's "heartbroken" stepdaughter, mystery ailments at a vineyard, the "lottery curse," a food vendor's bizarre behavior, a teen singer with a sore throat, a reality show struck by botulism, an ex-stock-trader fearing an aneurysm, mystery sinus problems, and a bachelor party for Raj that goes spectacularly wrong.
The first season of "Royal Pains" was pretty much a medical show with a few running subplots. But "Royal Pains Season Two" amps up the subplots a little -- there are rivalries, romantic interests, love triangles, and the whole weird situation with Eddie Lawson. There's just a lot more going on in general, especially for Evan and Hank.
But don't worry, the medical crises are still the center of the story. Hank uncovers at least one bizarre, rare or hard-to-diagnose medical problem for every episode ("I have a SWORD in my head!"), or he handles mundane ones with his quick wits (saving two boys from a toxic wine vat). The dialogue is still quick, witty and light, but the writers handle weightier issues in an intelligent manner.
And there's some solid development for the characters -- Hank spends the season grappling with his difficult relationship with his father, whom he loves but hasn't forgiven. And at the same time, he's dating a very cutthroat rival doctor.... which seems a little out of character, since by his own admission he barely knows her.
On the flipside, Evan starts growing up with the introduction of his cute blonde heiress girlfriend, and the relationship between them is adorable (despite her "demon" snoring). And Divya continues to struggle with her impending arranged marriage, particularly her fears that her marriage will be a sham instead of a true partnership. The downside of the cast? Not enough Tucker and Libby! They're only in ONE episode!
"Royal Pains Season Two" packs in more plot per episode, but the medical mishaps are still the center of attention. Funny, sweet and suitably dramatic.