USA Network's new Royal Pains is a pleasing clone of quirky Miami hit Burn Notice
On the surface, there wouldn’t seem to be a lot of connection between a quirky action adventure about a spy trapped in Miami and a sly, urbane comedy about a doctor forced to serve as an in-demand personal physician to the wealthy in the Hamptons.
But USA Network has managed to craft a new series, Royal Pains, that is a spiritual clone of the cable channel’s popular series about wayward spy Michael Westen, Miami-based Burn Notice.
Here are the ways in which the old show (returning at 9 tonight) and the new show (debuting at 10 tonight) share common themes:
An isolated hero
Burn Notice – Glib-but-effective superspy Westen (played by glib-but-effective Jeffrey Donovan) is stuck in his Miami hometown after a “burn notice” was issued, revoking his espionage credentials and trapping him in the city. As this season begins, Westen has turned down an offer of employment by the people who burned him, prompting them to sic the police on him.
Royal Pains – Glib-but-effective doctor Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) loses his promising medical career after a hospital bigwig dies under his care, eventually leaving as his only employment option serving as a private physician, or “concierge doctor” for the super wealthy in the Hamptons. As the season begins, Lawson turns down an offer of employment from one wealthy socialite, only to find a flood of others beating down his door.
As soft spot for charity cases
Burn Notice – Though he tries to avoid it, Westen passes the time in Miami by helping out needy folks who require the skills of an out-of-work spy. This season, that means helping rescue a kidnapped child from a brutal jewel thief, helping a woman free her father from a Venezuelan jail and dealing with an old pal who tries to make him steal weapons technology.
Royal Pains – After saving a woman’s life at a party, Lawson tries to avoid a deluge of wealthy egocentrics who demand his services. But he finds their emergencies – from a hemophiliac rich kid in a shattered Ferrari to a socialite with an uneven breast augmentation – too compelling to avoid.
Burn Notice – Westen pulls off his missions backed by a team of oddball buddies, including a former girlfriend and fellow superspy who still loves him (Gabrielle Anwar), a washed-out intelligence agent pal (Bruce Campbell) and his possessive mom (Sharon Gless).
Royal Pains – Lawson pulls off his medical work backed by a team of oddball buddies, including his lecherous accountant brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo), a super-organized Hamptons veteran seeking to be his assistant (Reshma Shetty), and a beautiful hospital administrator (Jill Flint) who helps him open a medical clinic.
A MacGyver-style knack for using found objects
Burn Notice – The best part of the show is Westen’s knack for turning everyday items into weapons or way-cool spy devices. This season, he turns a few wires and a potato chip can into an antenna for sending Bluetooth signals long range.
Royal Pains – Lawson saves a kid with blood filling the sac around his heart using a pen, sandwich bag, knife and roll of duct tape. Even MacGyyver couldn’t pull off a stunt like that.