IMDb > "Royal Pains" Wonderland (2009) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb

Reviews & Ratings for
"Royal Pains" Wonderland (2009)

« Prev | 12 of 104 Episodes | Next »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Index 1 reviews in total 

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Season 1: Forgets plot, characters, entertainment and goals as it fetishises wealth and glossy excess to nobody's benefit

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
28 August 2011

Although I do hold the opinion that there are more "worthy" or "better" TV shows in the world (The Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under), I'm not a snob and I do recognise the place for shows that some (myself included) may brand as "lesser" shows. These shows are the types that run on networks during the weekday evenings which provide a sort of tonic to the working day; the televisual equivalent of the 1950's image of being met at home by a doting wife, a drink and a seat in which to read your paper and relax. Essentially it is easy television that deliver the same sort of basic plot each week (with a dramatic, comedic, romantic etc slant to suit the product) and never really challenge the viewer too much. They have their place though and I not only watch many of them but I also enjoy some of them - Psych, The Mentalist, Burn Notice; none of them brilliant but yet they engage and entertain in a nicely non-threatening way. And, in this mould we have Royal Pains – a show about a brilliant doctor forced out of his job who somehow becomes a concierge doctor to the wealthy in the Hamptons while also helping those less well off.

Content wise it is an odd mix of House and McGuyver as Hank diagnoses on the fly and deals with issues on the fly. The details differ each week but one thing doesn't change and that is the extent to which I never really cared. Each week something happens and is dealt with on a very basic level – there isn't any real depth to it, just medical detail without any meaning because I didn't care. The show feels like they have looked at the sexy glossy fun of Burn Notice and decided "we'll do that", but forgot that they need a frame within which to hang that gloss. So in Royal Pains we have lots of gloss. At first the grotesquely wealthy were presented as a little spoilt or unpleasant (to offset their wealth) but this lasted one maybe two episodes before it got down to simply whacking itself into a frenzy with shot after shot of beautiful houses, grounds, cars, underground shark tanks, island retreats and so on. Once they get Hank into a swish pad of his own, the love fest truly begins.

At times there is a suggestion of commentary on the divide between rich and poor, but even if it is hinted we are suddenly whooshed into the next crane shot. It feels like the show is trying to have "real" people so as not to sicken viewers with excess but at the same time it is happiest when having cool excess to play with. OK this is not the first show to wallow in superficial gloss and unlikely excess, but without plots or characters to care about, the excess is all that is left and it looks really bad on itself like that. Ironically the only place where the gloss is absent is the opening title sequence, it is laughably bad and it amazed me every time I saw it.

The characters are cookie-cutter prepared and they add to the feeling that this show is a product, not a creation. With some shows they take a season to find their feet and decide what they are, but with Pains the entire shooting match is there to be seen from the second or third episode. Some may see this as a sign of confidence; me I see it as sign that this show has rolled off a production line and the foreman has checked off the boxes to make sure all parts are there. The characters don't grow because plastic doesn't grow. Hank and Jill's relationship moves fast because they don't have the writing to be able to make it develop naturally. Evan is the wacky annoying brother while Divya is the uptight but professional assistant (wow – bet those two cause some comedic conflicts right?). Accordingly the cast are mostly weak too – because they have nothing to work with. Feuerstein is blandly safe and well chiselled – again making him feel like a product. Flint is cute and flirty but just a little complex so that the romance doesn't flow totally smooth (although complex here means just a little ditzy when it comes to Hank), her cuteness helps her but not enough. Costanzo is endlessly annoying and he cannot find the value in his own character. Shetty is good looking and sharp in her delivery but there is nothing to her beyond this.

All of these flaws (weak substance, nonsense scenarios, bland characters, excessive gloss) are all actually acceptable to me if they can make it entertaining, but it is here where Royal Pains finally just gives it up for me – it simply isn't entertaining. Nothing about the plots engaged me but this shouldn't matter since in this type of show "weekly plots" can often just be fleeting frames within which for the characters and fun we love to occur. Except here the characters are either bland or terrible or both, and the "fun" is nowhere to be seen. Royal Pains now has several seasons under its belt – on the basis of this first one I have genuinely no idea why or how.

Was the above review useful to you?

Add another review

Related Links

Plot summary Ratings External reviews
Plot keywords Main details Your user reviews
Your vote history