November 18th, 2008
A week after throwing the show’s structure for a loop by reintroducing Chase and Cameron to the central narrative, House is at the kind of place where the show never really was last season. It’s a sort of unstable normalcy, where everything on the surface is the same but underneath there is clearly unrest amongst the team. There’s drama building everywhere, and it’s the kind of drama that will eventually explode in some fashion.
It’s a lot of moving parts, so I wonder how long they can make it last. “Emancipation” largely only works because of Omar Epps giving Foreman a very real sense of tarnished pride, a character who tried making it on his own last season only to find that he’s too much like House for his own good but now finds himself unable to get himself out from his shadow. While the fragmented nature of the episode was problematic in a few ways, the dual cases gave Foreman his biggest showcase of the season to date, more Chase and Cameron than we’ve received on average, some Wilson and House interaction, and even some new ripples appearing in the world of the three newer cast members.
No individual part of the episode really got to stand out beyond Foreman, but it all felt like positive momentum at this stage in the game.
November 11th, 2008
When David Shore and Co. decided to make the rather odd decision to “fire” the three fellows who worked for Dr. Gregory House at the end of the show’s third season while still employing them as cast regulars, I think we all asked ourselves a question: how, precisely, do they plan on balancing new fellows with the old ones who are off in various corners of the hospital.
And while they pushed Foreman back into the diagnosis group fairly quickly, this has remained a problem, especially as it relates to developing the characters of Chase and Cameron, and the new fellows for that matter. There have been some rumblings about House beginning to fall into the medical procedural trap, designing cases which are “on the nose” for individual cast members as a shorthand version of character development. And for Chase and Cameron, who have had almost zero “showcases” since leaving House’s team, this episode has been a long time coming.
“The Itch,” at the end of the day, is an episode that walked a fine line between organic investigation into the lives of these characters and a convenient episode that dealt with how we scratch that itch, whether through imaginary mosquitoes, coveting every single drawer in your apartment, or giving in to your agoraphobia. What we learn most of all is that some things never change: House will always be manipulative but emotionally stunted, Cameron will always be woefully incapable of self-rationalizing, and Chase will always be a character without, well, a character.
But even if it wasn’t a life-changing return to our former cottages, I’d say it was enjoyable enough.
September 23rd, 2008
The bodies are piling up for Gregory House, but he’s not really worried about whether or not Felicia Day survives through the episode: instead, he’s busy speed dating for a new Wilson. When he lost his three fellows at the end of the third season, it took him a good few episodes before he’s start even a protracted search potential replacement. In this episode, replacing Wilson is more important than life, death, or whatever might come after death.
So, needless to say, House is not in the best position to be figure out what is causing multiple transplant recipients from the same donor to either die or nearly die through a strangely diverse selection of illnesses. Some lungs fail, there’s a heart condition, and the aforementioned internet sensation (and star of Dr. Horrible) Felicia Day as the one who is not displaying quite the same level of symptoms. With such a wide workload, and with his attention elsewhere, House makes a bold move: he hires a private investigator, someone actually trained to break into people’s home and do all of the non-medical thing House usually has his fellows handle.
And while it is decidedly problematic for them to be introducing yet another new character when the show can’t handle Chase and Cameron as it is, Michael Weston’s P.I. is a charming enough character who feeds House’s paranoia while offering enough of an investigation into his relationship with Wilson. Yeah, he’s a bit precocious, but as far as guest characters who might be sticking around a while, I’ll prefer a sarcastic one to one who pops up in midseason as a contrived roadblock for our genius doctor.
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.