ROYAL PAINS. 10 tonight, USA Network.

DROP DEAD DIVA. 9 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime.

IT'S A GOOD thing that tonight's Season 2 premiere of USA's "Royal Pains" opens with a brief recap of last season's finale.

Because quite honestly, pretty much all I remembered about last summer's surprise hit was how sunny it was in the Hamptons and how much fun the medical "MacGyver" series seemed to be having there.

Turns out there was a cliff-hanger I'd seen last August but apparently not worried about over the winter in which some missing money (and a once again missing father) threatened the future of "HankMed," the fledgling concierge-physician business founded by Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) and his goofily entrepreneurial brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo).

If you've lost even a moment's sleep over this plot point, or indeed any other, your powers of concentration are far greater than mine.

Something similar occurred as I was watching the season opener of Lifetime's "Drop Dead Diva," which returns Sunday.

I know I saw last October's finale, but again, I'd forgotten the cliff where writers left heroine Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott) hanging by her fingernails, faced with a husband she didn't know she had and threatened with the loss of the law license because she did what she considered the right thing.

Of course, strictly speaking, both the law license and the husband belong to the woman who used to occupy Jane's body.

Before Jane died.

Way back last July.

Look, TV critics don't get summers off, so technically, I've no reason to complain about being expected to bring the same level of preparation to the postseason as I might to a series launching in September or January.

Practically speaking, though, these are summer shows, guilty pleasures about which only the most driven among us would ever bother to feel guilty.

They're on for a few hot months and then they're off for most of the fall, winter and spring: Do they really need cliff-hangers? Won't most of us come back automatically when we start to smell like sunscreen and ABC begins trumpeting the return of "Wipeout"?

And who hasn't guessed that some of the problems that plagued their characters will have disappeared by the end of the next season's premiere?

With or without the help of Paula Abdul, who makes a return visit to "Diva" on Sunday as, ahem, a judge.

The people who make "Royal Pains" must be taking it a lot more seriously than I've been because instead of trafficking in "American Idol's" castoffs, this season they've enlisted Marcia Gay Harden, who's already conferred her Oscar winner prestige on FX's "Damages," to play a doctor in the hospital where Hank's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Dr. Jill Casey (Jill Flint), works.

Harden's there to stir up trouble in a part of Hank's life that's so far been less interesting than, say, the odd-couple chemistry between Evan and HankMed's physician assistant, Divya Katdare (Reshma Shetty), who in last August's finale decided she'll be going through with the marriage her parents seem to have arranged for her.

But Harden's part, which requires her character to put even more pressure on Jill than Jill already puts on herself, feels so far like something an actress of this caliber might do in her sleep.

The same could be said, I suppose, for Campbell Scott - another "Damages" veteran - who returns tonight as the mysterious Boris, who used to keep a shark in his basement. If only the theme of "Jaws" could play whenever he's on screen, he'd be the perfect summer villain.

"Royal Pains," however, would like us to feel some pain for him, or at least share the level of concern Hank seems to have for his aristocratic patient, whose eccentricities are only slightly more pronounced than the rest of HankMed's clientele, that roster of entitled rich people who give the series its name.

I'm willing to try, at least as long as "Royal Pains" continues to serve up the oddball medical cases and their even odder solutions.

And to give Evan and Divya plenty of screen time together.

With 18 episodes ordered for this season, "Royal Pains" could conceivably take us right into the launch of the networks' fall shows.

As long as it doesn't forget it's meant to be a summer romance. *

Send e-mail to