Thursday, 13 June 2013
We chatted with executive producers Michael Rauch and Andrew Lenchewski and Mark Feuerstein, (who is wearing multiple hats on the show – acting, directing and producing) about Royal Pains’ highly-rated new season, which airs tonight on USA at 9pm. It’s summer in the Hamptons and as the season begins, HankMed has expanded with Divya overseeing the new staff doctors, Evan and Paige are newlyweds, and Hank is recovering from the explosion at Shadow Pond. No spoilers here but we’ll tell you this much: this season is all about change.
SSN: How long is Hank sidelined for?
Feuerstein: The way our brilliant writing staff has handled Hank’s injury is a perfect microcosm of how they handle so many different threads on the show; it’s in no way resolved easily or quickly, it’s used as incredible fodder for storylines, themes in the show about Hank’s growth, Hank’s challenges and the challenges for the entire group as they work together.
SSN: Does this also reflect the ongoing evolution of Hank and Evan’s relationship as brothers?
Feuerstein: One hundred percent. The question that exists between Evan and Hank will always be, “Who’s really taking care of who?” and Hank’s injury only begs that question further. Evan’s potential future will go in an unexpected direction, but when you see it, you’ll realize it couldn’t go any other way given the woman he’s married to, his personality and the world he’s now become a part of. His aspirations will go beyond being CFO of HankMed.
SSN: What’s going on with Evan and Paige’s new marriage?
Feuerstein: Evan and Paige’s relationship is like a textbook for any aspiring TV writer of how to plumb the depths of a situation. Every week there’s a new conflict and resolution that deepens their relationship and does it in the context of HankMed, of Evan and Hank’s relationship and their relationship to everyone else. People are amazed by Evan’s evolution and that’s synonymous to his relationship with Paige. You cannot underestimate the power of the great Brooke D’Orsay who comes on this season with a vengeance. The writers have written such incredible conflicts for the character of Paige, and her new marriage to Evan. Where are they going to live? How will they spend their money? How will they navigate these conflicts?
SSN: How many episodes did you direct this season?
Feuerstein: I just finished directing my third episode. Michael and Andrew genuinely supported me. Each time, I feel I’ve grown a bit. I got to make a rap video, a chase sequence, a dream sequence, I got to work with mini horses, shoot a food fight and a huge medical situation. I’ve learned so much along the way and I hope I held my own.
SSN: What’s been the biggest change or progression working with this ensemble of actors?
Feuerstein: It is the holy grail to get to work for five seasons with any troupe of actors. The kind of trust, respect and comfort level that I have with Reshma Shetty, Brooke D’Orsay, Paulo Costanzo, Campbell Scott and Ben Shenkman; acting is all about being relaxed and comfortable. It’s a very rare thing. I’ve also watched them all grow up: Reshma got married, Paulo is expecting a baby in a couple of months, it’s one of the most gratifying aspects of getting to run more than half a season.
SSN: From the opening episode, one takeaway is that Hank asks for a specific medication as he’s recovering from his injury. That’s a little worrisome. What’s that about?
Rauch: We’re doing a crossover with Breaking Bad.
Lenchewski: We talked to you in the past about Hank being our flawless hero, usually for better and occasionally for worse, and this season, we decided to show the chinks in his armor. It’s organically platformed by what happened in the explosion at the end of last summer’s finale and in the Christmas movie. It gives Hank something to struggle with all season that affects how he treats his patients and the characters around him. Both Hank and Divya are harboring big secrets and there will be ramifications from both of them keeping these secrets.
SSN: Is Dmitry (Mark Ivanir) a regular this season?
Rauch: Dmitry has an intriguing episode in episode three. We’re tying up a lot of the Boris mystery that’s been going on since season one. We really want to have the accumulation of all that come to a head this season, and Dmitry is the guy who gets us there.
SSN: What else can we expect this season?
Lenchewski: The first four seasons of the show was about these characters becoming a family. This season is about the family fracturing and moving apart in different ways: people will be moving out of the house, Evan and Paige starting their own lives, and the tension will build throughout the season. People are trying to figure out how to move on with their individual lives while still being part of this family.
SSN: You’ve always had great guest stars. Who’s visiting the Hamptons this season?
Rauch: Ben Schenkman is now a regular as Dr. Jeremiah Secani. We have Frances Conroy as a Hamptons doyenne and Evan’s nemesis. Laura Benanti will recur, and Stephen Spinella. We’ll also see Henry Winkler and Kyle Howard again. The very handsome and talented Callum Blue will also guest star as a relative of Boris.
Lenchewski: We’re going to have a first this season: for the first time in the history of the show, there will be a murder. It’s something we’ve been building to and it’s got medical implications, It’s a little bit of a shock in a good way. We’ve wrangled it and kept it in the tone of Royal Pains.
Rauch: We’re very happy with this season. If it’s not our favorite season creatively, it’s very close to it. We’ve been pushing out the boundaries of the characters and the storytelling tone of the show, still staying in the sweet spot of the show. We’re very happy with the way it’s all worked out.