WHAT IT’S ABOUT Hank (Mark Feuerstein) has some big decisions to make about his future, while Boris (Campbell Scott) and Evan (Paulo Costanzo) contribute their own suggestions. Meanwhile, what about Evan and Paige (Brooke D’Orsay) and their family-building efforts? What about that spark between Jeremiah (Ben Shenkman) and fantasy novelist Cindy Green (Maria Dizzia)? Will Divya (Reshma Shetty) ever hear from Johns Hopkins? And why does some international spy ring want to get a sample of Boris’ DNA? Will Hank ever find true love? Answers forthcoming in Wednesday’s series finale, “Uninterrupted.”
MY SAY Well, that was a pleasure. “Royal Pains” arrived on a summer breeze eight years ago, with faultless skies, open roads, empty beaches, endless sunsets and went down about as easy as a Long Island iced tea — a nonalcoholic one because no one at HankMed much partook. Divya was the best friend and most competent colleague anyone ever had. Jill (Jill Flint) was the love of someone’s life (you know who) until she decamped to Africa a few seasons ago. Everyone’s favorite benefactor and mystery man, Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz, had open and bottomless pockets. The brilliant, unemotive introvert amid the extroverts, Jeremiah, joined this beach party midway during the run.
And where can I find a doctor like Hank Lawson? He always turned up at the exact right moment. Someone -- typically an impeccably groomed stranger -- would present him with a sore elbow, and he’d instantly come back with a diagnosis of (say) dyslipidemia. The impromptu patient would swoon, faint, then fall into Hank’s waiting arms. (Repeat the ironclad formula over 104 episodes.) No one ever saw a bill. Maybe that’s why Hank drove around in that old Saab all these years.
Then, there was Evan. Like so many brothers, he and Hank were exactly the opposite, exactly the same. They shared a yearning, also a deep sadness from their past, while this Hamptons dreamscape was their karma — shattered only when their dear old feckless dad Eddie (Henry Winkler) turned up unannounced. Eddie was a combination of Winkler’s Barry Zuckerkorn (“Arrested Development”) and Arthur Fonzarelli. Fun guy. Just don’t depend on him.
But shows can’t last eight seasons on summer breezes alone. They endure because they have great characters. “Royal Pains” had them.
“Pains,” created by Andrew Lenchewksi, was also a gift to his native soil. He grew up in Roslyn and often shot the show there — Old Northern Boulevard, along with Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay and Birch Hill Road in Locust Valley frequently served as proxies for the Hamptons. The show’s heightened version of the East End was hardly one most Long Islanders — or most Hamptonites — recognized. But they recognized dozens of the exterior scenes, from Muttontown to Old Westbury, from Long Beach to Sands Point.
In fact, no series in TV history embraced Long Island quite like “Royal Pains” and — as gifts go — it came at the right time. Taxes, traffic and congestion have long contributed to a grinding sense among some that while Long Island may be a nice place to live, it’s not always an easy place to live. With its sunny, nostalgic, big-hearted optimism — along with all those beauty shots — “Royal Pains” made Long Island a kindler, gentler place, and inarguably a more picturesque one.
Wednesday’s finale is a reminder of all this, but last week’s musical fairy tale — portions shot at Oheka Castle — best restated the series’ themes about love, loss and hope.
There will be tears Wednesday, also hugs, and leave it to Jeremiah to offer a pragmatic reality check in the middle of a group one:
“How long are these supposed to last?” he wonders.
Not too much longer. Enjoy it while you can. And yes, it was a pleasure.
BOTTOM LINE An unashamedly sentimental send-off.