“TB or Not TB”
June 25th, 2009
That’s really not the question, Royal Pains.
This won’t be a particularly long review, but I do want to make note that the show is on better footing now that it’s back in chronological order, although it’s still a little bit all over the place with some of its developments. While the show has never seemed to aspire to much beyond its premise, it’s heading into a couple of directions both serialized and procedural that could prove interesting, but won’t quite commit to them enough to make them really stand out.
In the end, though, this one feels like it’s answering some more pressing questions about the show’s format than just the titular Shakespearean medical concern.
One of the things that was problematic about last week’s episode, if not particularly damning, was that Hank was given all of the tools to make this a remote location episode of House, with enough diagnostic equipment and treatment options to make things just a bit too familiar for anyone who has watched the FOX drama or any other medical show. I don’t particularly see the value in this: Hank isn’t an interesting enough character to really carry that kind of story, Mark Feuerstein’s charm notwithstanding.
As a result, I preferred this week’s story, where Hank’s position as a concierge doctor made a bit more sense, even if it was stretched a bit too far. As an Emergency Room doctor, it makes sense that he would be particularly prone to handling medical emergencies, and because he isn’t an actual physician he was entirely outside of the hospital (realistically) for all of this one. Sure, it required his patient to be particularly resistant to common sense or logic, but I’d rather the show exaggerate the behaviour of his patients to create a more dynamic medical “mystery” than to see the show turn them into the exact same type of patients you’d see on other shows.
I had similar views on Divya’s own little side story, important both for who was involved and for the realistic sense that this isn’t a case that would be handled in a traditional medical environment. Valentina, struggling to speak English, would have reason to be concerned over losing her job, and would realistically find the entire situation a bit frightening; as a result, having Divya have to pay a house call, and lug that X-Ray machine out of the trunk, felt like something unique to the show. It also allowed us to see Divya in action independent of Hank, which I personally enjoyed quite a bit: Reshma Shetty is most charming in the role, and I enjoy seeing her get to step out a bit.
It was also, I feel, perhaps the best use of Evan yet, although the episode was kind of schizophrenic on this point. I think Evan should ignore Divya, straight up, in terms of whether he should be going on patient calls, as while he can be annoying there it’s at least in a relevant fashion. His awful Italian translations, the subtitles scrawled in childish fonts while his attempts to understand Valentina turned into “etc. etc.” over time, were mildly clever, and felt like part of the case. Evan also has legitimate chemistry, of the bickering sort, with Divya, so having him there feels like a solid fit since Hank is a bit busy being out and about. They’re no Sam and Fiona, don’t get me wrong, but I’m willing to spend more time with them.
I’m willing to spend less time with Evan sneaking around Boris’ house spotting his new illegally imported shark, although more Campbell Scott would be just fine. It just seems like Evan playing spy of sorts really doesn’t make any sense, and while I seem to see where they’re going here (using these little moments to build to some sort of larger plot of Boris’ that gets revealed as the season goes on) I was both confused by why the shark would be so particularly important (why would he need to call someone? Is he going to kill someone with the shark in some sort of B-Movie James Bond conspiracy? Are there going to be laser beams?) and whether we’re really supposed to extrapolate from Boris’ threat that Evan has a legitimately complicated past.
The episode was an enjoyable way to spend forty minutes, and I applaud them for not using Hankapalooza (the date of Hank’s wedding to now ex-fiance Nikki) as an excuse to drive Hank and Jill apart. There isn’t enough life in the storyline for me to get excited about it, but that lack of life would be even more apparent if they tried to build a fight around this particular event. I don’t think that phone call was the last we’ve heard from Nikki (she seemed to drawn enough as a gold digger that she’ll come running should she find out that Hank is living quite as large as he is), but for now the calmness of Hank’s personal life contributes to the show’s laidback feel. And, for a summer show, that sounds about right to me.
- Sharks with laser beams being sent to kill on command: jumping the shark or reinvigorating your interest in the series? Pushing Daisies could pull it off, that’s for sure.
- I’m fascinated that Boris’ tennis court wasn’t fenced in, so I’m presuming he has another tennis court and this was just a practice one. On an unrelated note, I wish I had my own tennis court/ball machine.
- The affair between the owner of the restaurant and what appeared to be another chef was kind of bizarre (the height differential was distracting me), especially when it was never touched on again – it was literally a relationship of narratological convenience, both providing reason for the seizure and the ability for him to confirm the time of the first one.