The Words on the Page

Royal Pains

October 10, 2017

 

Royal Pains

Story by John Rogers and Andrew Lenchewski; Teleplay by Andrew Lenchewski

Goldenrod Revised Draft - September 2008

Dramatic Pilot, 90 pages

 

 

"The way everyone describes this place, I was expecting much worse." - Hank

 

Royal Pains premiered on USA Network in June of 2009 and ran for 104 episodes over the course of 8 seasons. While definitely a drama, it was know for its light tone and comedic elements. Here, travesties weren't always life and death. An emergency could be as simple as a woman whose fake boob sprung a leak having to wait for help. With a rich world and gorgeous characters, the last word I'd use to describe Royal Pains is gritty.

 

Royal Pains ran an hour and a half long pilot, a length I have not previously seen. That was the first sign that things are a bit freer in the cable world. The script also was written in a light voice with humors asides such as, "This ain't your mother's Brooklyn." 

 

Unlike most medical dramas, this one opens with a basketball game. Here is where we meet our protagonist, Hank - the smallest man on the court. Of course there's a medical emergency, and of course he saves the day. We aren't properly introduced to him or fully aware of his status until page 4, and by page 10, he's been fired from his job in the ER. 

 

While Hank doesn't practice medicine in Act 2, things keep getting worse for him. His bills are piling up, he can't get another job, and his fiancée leaves him. This catapults us to the Hamptons, and the real story finally starts.

 

Although the first two acts are mainly set up, they account for more than a quarter of the page count. (The pilot had seven acts.) I wasn't sure of what the spine of the story is going to be until Act 3, but two things keep me engaged. First, the dialogue is snappy, especially the exchanges between Hank and his brother, Evan.

 

Evan: I wanna get taken in like a stray puppy on a rainy day.

Hank: Maybe Brangelina will adopt you.

Evan: What's my favorite sport, Hank?

Hank: Extreme social-climbing.

Evan: That's right.

 

Second, during our brief time in the hospital at the show's opening, a lot of medical terminology was used - "aspirated," "introducer," "sputum," "laryngoscope," "Lasix 80 milligrams STAT IV push." The writer's knowledge is evident. It is clear that he has expertise in this field, which makes me trust him, and, since I trust him, I am drawn in and want to know more. 

 

In Royal Pains, a hospital isn't the world of the show. Instead, we're being introduced to the world of a concierge doctor - a "doctor-on-demand" for the rich. Just in case we've missed all the visual cues, Hank and Divya, his PA, verbally explain the world to Evan. This time Evan is the stand in for us, the person learning about the new world.

 

One thing jumped out to me about the format of the script, and that was the word "NEXT" inserted as the time of day in the slug lines. I've never seen it used before, but I surmise that it essentially matches "moments later." I am not sure whether this is a word that is commonly used but, after I figured out what it meant so it no longer jolted me, I found that it matched the fast pace of the story and, ultimately, didn't distract from the script.

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Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks...
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