Thursday, June 04, 2009

Burning Pains - Burn Notice and Royal Pains

Burn Notice - Friends and Family - Ep. 301 - Season Premiere (Thursday, June 4th at 9pm on USA)
Royal Pains - Pilot - Ep. 101 - Series Premiere (Thursday, June 4th at 10pm on USA)

So you already know I love Burn Notice and you can catch up with DVD's I'm giving away FREE!!! USA was nice enough to let me see the first episode, as well as the first episode of its new show Royal Pains. YAY USA!!!

Now, the version of Royal Pains I got was apparently not the final edit, and considering it was 106 min. long, I think there were still edits going to be made. Let's hope. Because it started out REAL slow and cliched and looking like a half a dozen other bland shows meshed into one. The directing style was all over the place, the writing full of lazy lines, and the characters were stock.

But hang on just a second.

The show, much like its lead star Mark Feuerstein, comes across as annoying and slightly abrasive at first. I've never really been a fan of Mark. Or that's how I remember it. First impressions right? But thinking back, I've always ended up liking him by the end of the show/movie. He softens and while I still don't think he's leading man status, he's comfortable to watch.

And like the show that surrounds him, as the premise of the show gets tighter and loopier, it all becomes far more entertaining and likable.

Mark plays Hank Lawson, an up-and-coming doctor who, because he sticks with his morals, is fired and left to rot while losing his girlfriend, posessions and purpose in life. In comes his accountant nerd brother Evan (Paulo Constanzo, one of the better things from Joey) and off they go to the Hamptons for some partying with the rich. That's when it gets shiftier and stranger, but it's also where the eventual fun comes in, albeit after a strange appearance from Campbell Scott as a super rich German royal (Oh, I guess that's where the Royal comes in).

Anyways, Hank ends up saving rich people with his medical expertise, a hot young thing named Divka (Reshma Shetty) shows up out of nowhere as his assistant, and slowly he gets pushed to become a doctor on mansioncall to the rich.

It's an especially fun concept when one of the rich is the loopy Mrs. Newberg played by the delightfully loopy Broadway diva Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens, Blithe Spirit, apparently a re-occuring character here). Of course, the show writes it in that she had a bad boob job that she's freaking out about. Yet she continues to hold out one boob so blantantly (see pic above) that it makes no sense. But whatever. It's a funny moment right?

So as ludicrous and as inconsistent as the stories and characters get, by the time Christine Ebersole does show up, the show has seemed to get to its point and its rhythm to show us what future episodes will really feel like. And if we get to see more architecturally stunning homes in the summer beach setting of the Hamptons with the amusing Shetty, Ebersole and Costanzo peppering away at Mark Feuerstein, why not enjoy it for what it is? A relatively painless breezy summer TV series. (Jill Casey is also in the show as a fellow doctor and an assumed love interest but I'll save that for the future).

Over on Burn Notice, Michael has survived his jump into the waters (when John Mahoney cuts off his ties) and Michael finds himself without the protection of the same people that were chasing him. He appears back on the grid, and an old colleague tracks him down for help.

Without giving too much away, the show tries to barrel ahead with the ongoing mystery behind Michael's burn notice but the first episode tries to tie up loose ends while hammering at the emotional core behind his life (that of his mom and Fi).

While there are the requisite twists and turns, it's a little less fun compared to usual, since it's cleaning up some previous business but it only cements the chemistry between Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar, and as always, Jeffrey Donovan alone is enough to hold the show down, even in a lesser episode.

Vance at http://tapeworthy.blogspot.com

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