The makers of a long-running series have taken pains to ensure that it ends properly.
The eighth and final season in the Hamptons for USA Network’s light drama “Royal Pains” begins Wednesday (May 18), with the show’s 100th episode to be marked before it sails into the sunset. Played by Mark Feuerstein, Dr. Hank Lawson has to determine the future of his medical service — logically named HankMed — and his revised personal goals, with his brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) and the latter’s wife Paige (Brooke D’Orsay) also charting their courses.
Big decisions also are faced by Lawson associates Divya (Reshma Shetty) and Jeremiah (Ben Shenkman), and the wealthy and enigmatic Boris (Campbell Scott) … but as usual, “Royal Pains” won’t be steeped completely in seriousness. An action-oriented story filmed on location in Hong Kong was directed by Feuerstein, and a musical episode features guest stars Cloris Leachman and Christine Ebersole. Among guests returning for the last “Royal Pains” stanza are Jill Flint (“The Night Shift”) as Hank’s ex-flame and Henry Winkler as the siblings’ father.
“It feels so great to not only have completed the series,” Feuerstein tells Zap2it, “but to have gotten the full run, with the support of USA, so we could finish in a way that did justice to all the arcs of all the great characters that our brilliant writing staff has helped to evolve over all these years. Some series have to jettison arcs in the interest of a quick ‘out,’ but we got the full breadth.”
Feuerstein credits executive producers Andrew Lenchewski (also the show’s creator) and Michael Rauch with many things, including “one of the most challenging (aspects) of the entire series for me” with the Hong Kong shoot. “I remember shaking with fear and panic at about 4 in the morning, waiting to find out if we’d be able to shoot anything. On the first day, there was a panic that a typhoon was coming into the main area where we needed to shoot — and when there’s a typhoon warning of Level 8, the highest, they shutter all the buildings. Any location we had reserved was unavailable and inaccessible.”
All turned out well, though, since the typhoon stayed far enough away and the filming schedule was revised to accommodate the conditions. Feuerstein also enjoyed doing the music-based tale that makes the entire cast singers and dancers in a Busby Berkeley-style number (“Every designer from every department was at the top of their game”), but for all the boundaries the “Royal Pains” wrap-up stretches, it also pays homage to what’s come before.
Feuerstein has moved on to his next project, FOX’s upcoming revival of “Prison Break,” in which he plays the new husband of Dr. Sara Tancredi (returnee Sarah Wayne Callies). He’s grateful, though, to take a moment to appreciate what “Royal Pains” has given him over a run that also encompassed his guest turns on “Friends With Better Lives” (which was executive-produced by his wife, Dana Klein) and “Nurse Jackie” … plus his title role in the movie satire “Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant.”
“People had children, people got married,” Feuerstein reflects of his “Royal Pains” tenure. “We lived two college terms over the course of the series, and if you think about how impactful those four years of college are, you can imagine what this was. This was a life lived, and luckily, there was so much love among everybody at the end. We grew closer every season, but we never stopped appreciating it every moment we were shooting it. I knew what I had with this from the get-go, which is not the case for every actor. Every day, I pinched myself.”