Of all the shows arriving on our screens over summer, the surprise big hit has been Royal Pains. A charming comedy-drama about a New York ER doctor who ends up working as a ‘concierge doctor’ to the rich of the nearby Hamptons, it’s as languid as a Long Island iced tea, with no big pyrotechnics, no screaming melodramas, only MacGyver-esque medical procedures and reasonable people having relatively normal relationships – against the general insanity experienced by the rich.
While it hasn’t avoided the occasional escape from reality and House-ian "bizarre diseases of the week" to diagnose, it has remained whimsical fun with a compelling cast throughout. With a second season now assured and with so many sub-plots coming to a head, a cliffhanger ending was inevitable. What was surprising is that the creator of Charmed and the show’s exec producer Constance M Burge managed to avoid Wiccans for a whole season – until now.
On the whole, a very nicely done season finale. The standard episode format was maintained, with Hank having to solve a medical mystery while his brother Evan and assistant Divya bicker. There were (thankfully) no affronts to logic and sense by having witchcraft overthrow science at the end. No one acted dreadfully out of character, although Evan’s investment of money in a “bad fund” (I’m avoiding spoilers here) came somewhat out of nowhere. Divya’s decision at her wedding was what we were probably all expecting.
However, it was a little surprising not to see any more of the Boris sub-plot, which has been one of the more interesting strands of the series so far, and that Jill-Hank never resolved itself in any big way – or even moved onto a real cliffhanger.
While it’s not the most demanding of shows, Royal Pains has proved that clever, charming, warm television without too many idiosyncrasies can excel when scheduled correctly. I’ll definitely be tuning in next year.
Note to producers, though: do you think you could make Evan at least slightly less irritating?