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USA's 'Royal Pains' Wrapping up 8 Years of Plot Lines
May 18, 2016  | By David Hinckley

By present standards, USA’s Royal Pains could probably be called TV lite.

Or, just as easily, TV delightful.

Royal Pains, which chronicles the adventures of a nimble doctor in the Hamptons, launches its eighth and final season Wednesday (5/18) at 10 p.m. ET.

Like the sunny beaches it often showcases, it’s a summer pleasure. No heavy thinking required. Just lie back and let it wash over you.

Because the show is heading for the finish line, some long-running themes will be arising this season, starting with why our main man Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) remains single.

A handsome, straight and charming young doctor roams the Hamptons for years, making house calls, and no one has scooped him up? Seriously?

Hank has addressed this before and he’s addressing it again as this season starts. Fans will recall that toward the end of last season he ran again into Jen (Jordana Spiro), a nurse who brings out both his desire for a relationship and his commitment-phobia.

The phobia part gets reinforced in the season’s opening episode when Hank’s hedonistic father Eddie (Henry Winkler, left) makes a couple of ill-advised relationship decisions that lead Hank to wonder if inability to commit might be hereditary.

None of this affects Hank’s doctoring skills, of course. Whether it’s a kid falling off a bike or a U.S. Senate candidate who comes down with an inconvenient medical issue in mid-campaign, Hank remains the doctor we all wish we could summon.

In other ongoing plot business, Hank’s brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) and his wife keep working toward having that baby, which is not an issue for Divya (Reshma Shetty). She is well along in her pregnancy while she waits to find out whether she has been accepted at Johns Hopkins.

Regular viewers will recognize other ongoing story threads, while non-regulars would have no trouble picking them up. Royal Pains remains what it has been all along: a breezy character drama with characters we want to be happy.

In an age when much of television has become literally or figuratively dark, Royal Pains celebrates the light.

It’s a bright show, full of sunshine both indoors and out. Everyone wears summer clothes and sunglasses. It’s not the world most of us inhabit, but it’s hard not to enjoy.

This season will be bit

tersweet because it continues USA’s evolution away from light dramas, the likes of White Collar and Burn Notice, toward shows that are more complex and intense.

Obviously the network feels that’s a more promising future direction, and it’s true that the audience for Royal Pains has fallen considerably over the last couple of years.

It’s still too bad, because those vanishing dramas provided a nice respite on the TV dial, a refuge that is disappearing on other networks like TNT as well.

For the moment, though, we should probably look at the final season of Royal Pains as an end-of-summer party, to be savored both for the day and the memories.

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