Gay is the television critic.
There are few prime-time series in the history of TV that have embraced Long Island as much as "Royal Pains," the USA hit returning Tuesday night at 9 for a sixth season. The Island has been its oyster over the years -- the tonier parts anyway from Montauk to Sands Point and a dozen stops in between.
After all, this is about a doctor -- Mark Feuerstein's Hank Lawson -- who makes house calls to the Rich and Fabulous, although presumably not via the LIE during rush hours. The series is shot entirely on Long Island, and while many other series -- like FX's "The Americans" -- film here as well, it's that word "entirely" that's the mark of distinction for "Pains."
Oheka Castle in Huntington has long provided most of the show's money shots, doubling as the Hamptons mansion, "Shadow Pond," of mysterious nobleman Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz (Campbell Scott). Co-executive producers Andrew Lenchewski -- a Roslyn native -- and Michael Rauch say Oheka will remain so.
The landmark structure was in the news earlier this year when owner Gary Melius was shot by an unknown assailant on the estate's grounds, but that incident did not affect production of the show. "We're just so glad he was OK," said Rauch. "It's amazing to see him walking around, not missing a beat. He has even more energy than before. Knock wood, we plan to use the location the entire season." ("Pains" is currently shooting the seventh of 13 episodes.)
Many other landmark locations have been used over the years: "We have a loyal local viewer base because people know we're shooting in their backyard and they tune in to see the mansions and all the other places they recognize from their daily lives," says Lenchewski -- who says the show has a scene set in Roslyn again this season. "It's a lot of fun for them and we get people coming up all the time to say how much they appreciate we're here."
"Here" this season will be some new stops for the show -- including Jones Beach -- and many from the past. "Pains" almost seems to live at Bayville's Crescent Beach Club, a location that's been deployed over a variety of episodes and scenes (including one set in an emergency room).
Mill Neck -- home of the Lillian Sefton Dodge Estate and many other architectural treasures -- will finally get its close-up this season: "It took us a while to break in," says Rauch, "but we were able to demonstrate what good citizens we were, and how quiet and well-behaved we are."
Lenchewski explains that the allure of Long Island for the show is found in those outsized pockets of opulence that are rapidly disappearing. Inisfada, the 72,000-square-foot Tudor glory in Manhasset that was demolished last December, was in one of the show's first settings back in 2009.
"There are fewer and fewer of these grand old Gold Coast estates we can use," says Lenchewski. "We've got the Hempstead House and a couple out in Glen Cove where we're trying to shoot before they're gone, too. These aren't just local treasures but national ones."