May 19th, 2008
Last week, I thought House was style over substance for 55 minutes before, in the final moments, it transcended into something more interesting – suddenly, a rather pointless and indulgent episode took an intensely personal turn, and “Wilson’s Heart” had a lot more dramatic resonance by default. Placing Amber in danger is actually an incredibly smart move, mainly because we really don’t know what will happen.
Anne Dudek has been enough of a revelation as Cutthroat Bitch that keeping her in the cast could be a theoretical option, or at least keeping her alive long enough for her to appear as a recurring character. At the same time, this episode in particular did a great job of escalating tension to the point where Amber’s death could fundamentally change these characters enough to justify the whole selection process that resulted in three new cast members in the first place.
The result is a finale far less interesting or eventful as last week’s finale, but a hell of a lot more tension-filled, and with a lot more dramatic interest – I didn’t really care about House’s head games last week, but this is the most that I’ve cared about a patient on the show in forever. And in a procedural show that is too often self-centered on House, it was great to see a final hour that barely even dealt with his head in favour of Wilson, 13, and more people who really needed their time in the sun.
May 12th, 2008
When spoilers emerged regarding the setup for this season’s finale of House, I must admit to being somewhat skeptical – it sounded a lot like the House finale from two years previous, wherein we spent an entire episode unknowingly inside House’s head after he was shot. It was a mind-bending episode, to be certain, and was certainly an intriguing glimpse into how his mind works. Here, it seems a bit predictable: faced with a pending finale, we find ourselves delving back into his mind for an extra special House extravaganza.
This time, the subconscious is aware, so it’s a bit trippier, and that House is actively attempting to solve a mystery where the answers are in his own mind proves dramatically interesting. The problem is that the previous finale was a personal crisis for House, and eventually evoked ideas and concepts that would help to focus on his concerns with his leg. Here, we lack that personal connection: the episode tries to draw out feelings between House and Amber, which doesn’t seem as eventful for him as a character.
It’s also now far more detrimental to focus so heavily on only one character: with three new fellows, three old fellows, Wilson and Amber all floating around searching for a point of identity, to spend an episode so clearly wrapped up in House’s own mind. While it has some vague reflections on the other characters (And promises for further complications in the episode’s second part), his physical, emotional and psychological trial is really his own…and I don’t know if a show of this breadth is in a position to be so centered on its titular character at this point.
“No More Mr. Nice Guy”
April 28th, 2008
Of all of the shows who had set up extravagant storylines before the strike, House had perhaps the most to lose without returning: it had gutted its existing team, hired on new cast members, and had left at a point with nothing resolved. David Shore and company wanted to be able to see this to its end, whatever that end may be, so here we are with “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
The episode is a fitting return: a central question of House’s lack of niceness, a chance to further indulge House’s relationship with Wilson and his new girlfriend Cutthroat Bitch, and a sly way to both reference the writers’ strike and find a way to add more of Cameron and Chase to the show all at the same time.
If I were to, like House, give the series a performance review, I’d say that it’s back on track: it’s hard to really analyze the various medical cases, largely interchangeable, but this one was smartly unmemorable in favour of allowing these characters to regain some space in the viewer’s mind. As my mother says, the new lineup wasn’t as favourable once it settled in beyond the entertaining reality show metaphor, so it is important that we get to know them more than we get to know a lovable oaf.
October 9th, 2007
This will be fairly short as I was admittedly not entirely paying attention to tonight’s episode of House. However, there are a few observations I wanted to make about it. Because the episode tried to do a lot of things, and I wasn’t entirely buying it.
House with a death wish was just bizarre, and I still don’t entirely “get” the situation with the car accident victim. I know there’s the obvious connection to House’s own past, but it felt too arbitrary and pulled House out of the episode’s reality. The storyline had no connection to the rest of the episode, and its purpose was not clear by episode’s end.
As for Foreman’s attempt at pulling a House, I think that is actually serves to point out one of the show’s glaring flaws: no one would ever let House do what he does. While this is supposed to drive Foreman back to House, all it did for me was confirm that Cuddy would never have kept her job this long without firing him, results or no results. House’s apparent immunity to what Foreman experienced is a flaw the show has never really addressed in a real fashion.
And while it was actually a strong episode for the potential cottages, I find that the suspense is gone when I know who they cast (I won’t spoil it here). It is interesting to see how they try to mess with our heads, and one of them was pretty well decided within this episode (I’ll let you assume who you wish to assume), and their case drama certainly made for some interesting elements.
But in the end, it didn’t feel like a cohesive episode of House: I would have almost rather they left out House’s storyline altogether and simply let him terrorize the fellows with more great Survivor-style tribal councils. Going for the death wish just felt…false.
“The Right Stuff”
October 2nd, 2007
Although the episode might not be labeled as such, I would argue that tonight’s House was really the second part of a two-part opener. After last week established House’s issues regarding bringing in a new team, this week gave us plenty of the House we like while also providing some important revelations. This would make last week a prologue (Although one I was vastly entertained by), and this week finally gets back to the meat of the issue.
And it really did: we learned what happened with Chase and Cameron, we were introduced to the new prospective fellows, and we got to see a new level of House’s unethical behaviour. For all the details, continue on to a diagnostic on the episode.
September 25th, 2007
House is a series that is always good at two things: finales and premieres. As a procedural drama, the rest of the time is spent meandering through repetitive and predictable medical cases, but it is at these moments of ending and beginning that House becomes a well-written and engaging character drama. After a finale that left everything in upheaval, “Alone” fast-forwards only two weeks as House tries to set out on his lonesome to prove that he doesn’t need a team.
Mind you, the series hinges on House’s interactions with his “Cottages,” so we know that this isn’t going to last long. This particular episode, however, benefited from the lack of added weight: it was, for the first time in a long time, House being House. Whether it was interactions with Wilson, Cuddy or Dr. Buffer (A Janitor turned Fellow), House was at his Tuesday best tonight. And, even if it didn’t answer all of our questions, I’d say that you can call this case a success.
[The above/below is really quite tentative, if only because of CTV’s lack of a consistent Fall Schedule. Right now, Gossip Girl is airing a day before its U.S. airings on CTV in Canada, so I’m covering it a day early. However, Pushing Daisies is debuting in the same timeslot two weeks from now. I expect Pushing Daisies to get moved, but this could all change]
Tuesdays are a perfect day for television at Cultural Learnings thanks to a relatively light schedule on Wednesdays. Of course, spiting me once again, the TV deities weren’t kind enough to offer a plethora of shows on this particular evening. As a result, let’s look at the three shows that (for now) have made the cut into the rotation.
FOX’s biggest drama series has never quite had itself in a state of upheaval like this one: with Chase, Foreman and Cameron unemployed and a new set of residents incoming (Including Kal Penn (Kumar) and Olivia Wilde (The O.C.’s resident lesbian)), it seems like a good time to start paying closer attention to Hugh Laurie and company. I’m hoping this new element might cut down on the procedural predictability, but we’ll see.
Cultural Learnings’ House Coverage
Faced with the enormous task of battling off with House, a show that controls all sectors of the viewing audience, Reaper might struggle to gain traction. However, its pilot is quite sharp, and I think that there is a lot of potential in its concept that is worth investigating further. A few weeks in, I might be begging people to stop watching House to switch over to The CW for a change, but we’ll see if it even lasts that long. Fingers crossed.
Cultural Learnings’ Reaper Coverage
Earlier this evening, I already started covering this new drama from O.C. creator Josh Schwartz; it’s one of those shows where slick production values and adequate writing elevate what may otherwise be tossed aside as teen fare. My cynicism may grow too large to be contained within shorter articles, but for now we’re going to follow the Serena/Blair battle until the bitter end.
Cultural Learnings’ Review: Gossip Girl
[Months ago, Cultural Learnings put its neck out there to predict which shows and performers might get those coveted Emmy Nominations. Now, it’s time to put the prediction power to the test again, predicting who will win during tomorrow night’s ceremony. Some of them might be wishful thinking, others might be far too safe. Regardless, it’s our job to stand by them to the bitter end. We’ll see how things turn out during tomorrow night’s LiveBlogging Extravaganza!]
Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Predictions
Oustanding Drama Series
The Sopranos [WINNER]
[It only won once, it had a critically acclaimed final season, and the rest of the competition was either too uneven or too green. Simply put, it is the class of this field, and will easily walk home with the Emmy]
Oustanding Comedy Series
Two and a Half Men
30 Rock [WINNER]
[This is going with my gut on this one, but I think that 30 Rock combines the liberal-minded sentiment of Emmy voters and strong pedigree in Baldwin/Fey. The Office got their due last year, and Ugly Betty will get theirs eventually. This is 30 Rock’s year.]
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
James Spader (Boston Legal)
James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) [WINNER]
Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Hugh Laurie (House)
[While Laurie is a potential spoiler, I’d say that Gandolfini should easily ride the Sopranos wave to victory within this category.]
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) [WINNER]
Ricky Gervais (Extras)
Steve Carell (The Office)
Tony Shahloub (Monk)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
[Picking between Carell and Baldwin is very tough, as Carell got robbed last year, but I think that Baldwin was the breakout star of the year in comedy, while Carell’s star just didn’t shine as brightly.]
Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Entertainment, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, NBC, Reality TV, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, The Sopranos, Ugly Betty
This fall, all of your favourite shows will be returning, and some new blood will join the pack. Which nights should you be scheduling off? Here’s the full calendar list of premiere dates for the Big 5 Networks.
NOTE: New shows are shown in blue.
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader [FOX]
The Biggest Loser [NBC]
Kitchen Nightmares [FOX]
Prison Break [FOX]
Beauty & The Geek [Two Hours] [The CW]
Kid Nation [CBS]
America’s Next Top Model [The CW]
Back To You [FOX]
‘Til Death [FOX]
Gossip Girl [The CW]
Survivor: China [CBS]
The Simpsons [FOX]
King of the Hill [FOX]
Cold Case [CBS]
Family Guy [FOX]
How I Met Your Mother [CBS]
Dancing with the Stars [ABC]
Big Bang Theory [CBS]
Two and a Half Men [CBS]
Rules of Engagement [CBS]
The Bachelor [ABC]
CSI: Miami [CBS]
New Amsterdam [FOX]
Dancing with the Stars (Results) [ABC]
The Unit [CBS]
Reaper [The CW]
The Singing Bee [NBC]
Boston Legal [ABC] [Special 90 Minute Premiere]
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit [NBC]
Deal or No Deal [NBC]
The Bionic Woman [NBC]
Criminal Minds [CBS]
Private Practice [ABC]
CSI: New York [CBS]
Dirty Sexy Money [ABC]
My Name is Earl [NBC]
Smallville [The CW]
Ugly Betty [ABC]
The Office [NBC]
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation [CBS]
Grey’s Anatomy [ABC]
Without a Trace [CBS]
Big Shots [ABC]
Ghost Whisperer [CBS]
Deal of No Deal [NBC]
Las Vegas [NBC]
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2 hours) [ABC]
Desperate Housewives [ABC]
American Dad [FOX]
Brothers & Sisters [ABC]
Everybody Hates Chris [The CW]
Aliens in America [The CW]
Girlfriends [The CW]
The Game [The CW]
Pushing Daisies [ABC]
30 Rock [NBC]
Supernatural [The CW]
Friday Night Lights [NBC]
Women’s Murder Club [ABC]
Men in Trees [ABC]
Samantha Who? [ABC]
Viva Laughlin (Preview) [CBS]
Viva Laughlin [CBS]
Cashmere Mafia [ABC]
Filed under 'Til Death, 2007 Fall Preview, 30 Rock, Brothers & Sisters, Cavemen, Chuck, CSI: Miami, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, FOX, Friday Night Lights, Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, My Name is Earl, NBC, New Amsterdam, Prison Break, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Reaper, Scrubs, Shark, Supernatural, Television, The Bionic Woman, The CW, The Office, Ugly Betty