August 28, 2009By Joe Diliberto Posted: Aug 28, 2009
The first-season finale of ROYAL PAINS was a microcosm of the series as a whole — and a lot like HankMed itself: appealing, but not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Case in point: The installment began with Hank and Evan behaving so completely out of character that it was as if their minds had swapped bodies. Hank was obsessed with the business of HankMed, while Evan was only interested in taking Sunday off. Since when? Evan was not even worried that a check sent to a medical supply house bounced. The week's medical case involved Alexandra Holden (ex-Suzy, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) playing Zoe, a young woman who was experiencing hallucinations that her sister attributed to supernatural causes. Hank examined and treated her (in her backyard). She turned out to be suffering from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome brought on by an adverse reaction to cough syrup. Meanwhile, the time had finally come for Divya to put her finger where her mouth is, and get engaged.
On the good side, we got to see a lot of personal stuff. However, nothing was very original. Hank had to raise his little brother after mom died and dad walked out. The way Hank went out of his way to deliver the exposition left me expecting that their deadbeat dad would turn out to be behind the loss of the HankMed nest egg. But what was Hank talking about when he told Evan, "I'm surprised it took this long for you to let me down." He hinted at a long history of secrets and lies that could prove to be very intriguing.
Divya's desire to marry for love, not to fulfill her parents' wishes, was also a far too-familiar tune. That dream sequence of her standing up for herself? Lame. I'm not sure I bought the idea of Divya knuckling under and letting Raj put a ring on her finger, but at least it ensures she will have a story next season. (Next season being summer 2010.) Another classic soap groaner came when Jill rolled up on Hank at just the right time to interpret something the wrong way. And then Hank got it wrong when he fell for the ol' "aggressive ex-hubby pretending he's still in his wife's life" routine. Gee, will those two crazy kids ever get together?
At least the show dialed back the gore this week, which was a relief after last week's grotesque chest injury. (In case you missed it, a man's rib cage became detached inside his chest, and a crude device involving fish hooks was improvised to fix it. At least, I think that's what happened; it was hard to see the TV after that scene caused me to vault off the couch and cling to the ceiling!) And I thought that compound-fracture of a leg a few weeks ago was bad!
Anyway, the stage was set for next season with Jill left alone after kicking Charlie out, and Hank left alone after Evan set off to confront their father, "Eddie R." Not exactly nail-biting scenarios, and I doubt I will remember the situations next summer. But I will remember ROYAL PAINS as a pleasant warm-weather diversion.