Tag Archives: Wilson

House – “Wilson”

“Wilson”

November 30th, 2009

You might be wondering why I stopped reviewing House after the season premiere. And, well, the answer is quite simple: I stopped watching House after the season premiere.

It wasn’t an intentional decision: a few episodes piled up on the DVR, which proceeded to crash and lose all of its files, and then more episodes piled up alongside some frustrated critics who were growing tired of the show’s ignorance of the rather great premiere, “Broken.” And so my desire to catch up with House was limited, and until tonight I was kind of convinced that I may never return to the show again.

However, on the advice of those same critics, I returned to “Wilson” and discovered what role House will play in my television criticism future. It is a show where the only episodes that truly engage me, truly suck me in, are those which feel uniquely possible within the show’s universe. Alan Sepinwall quite rightly observes in his review of the episode that the focus on Wilson in the episode would never work if not for the inherent juxtaposition of his methods to House’s methods.

It’s an episode that puts someone else in the driver’s seat, and rather than feeling like an overly complicated, soap operatic version of the show’s basic premise (which, based on what I’ve read of the season so far and parts of last season, is effectively what the show has boiled down to) the episode felt like a rumination on character, themes, and the inherent humanity or lack thereof at the show’s core.

The result was a very compelling hour of television, one which is uniquely housed (I made a funny!) within this particular series but will do little to change its overall downward trajectory.

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Season Premiere: House – “Broken”

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“Broken”

September 21st, 2009

“You’re not God.”

There was a lot of response to “Broken,” as there is to many House premieres and finales. House, like many other shows which on a week-to-week basis only seem to dabble in serialized storylines, likes to pile on the sudden tension in the late and early parts of each season. It’s the time of year where Amber dies in a tragic accident, or when House begins hallucinating due to his use of Vicodin, or when House gets shot and goes into a dream-like state and regains some use of his leg. In all instances, the show presents us with a simple question: what if Dr. House changed? What if, after losing Amber or having his leg fixed or firing all of his fellows or the suicide of one of his fellows or (in the Season 5 finale) being institutionalized, he grows up in a way that changes his dynamic with the people around him and how he does his job?

Every year, however, the same thing happens: he and Wilson reconcile, he convinces himself his leg isn’t better, he hires new fellows and everything effectively goes back to normal. House is, ultimately, like every other procedural in that there are parts of its identity which cannot change as fundamentally as the finales want us to believe, the premieres always designed as a first step to righting the character’s universe. This is something that I’ve complained about in the past, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with it.

“Broken” is certainly, at the very least, the most impressive effort yet to make House’s re-entry into his world both believable and not without consequence. Taking the form of “House: The Movie,” ditching the entire cast save a cameo from Robert Sean Leonard in favour of a collection of doctors, patients and visitors from Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, the two-hour episode takes the time to go through every stage of House’s process. It allows us to see his usual behaviour, conniving and manipulative, and then to deconstruct it in a way which never feels preachy, and which in the end reveals a character who remains acerbic and charming but who does seem a lot closer to what one might consider happy.

And while only time will tell how far these changes go, I’m not really concerned: long-term change or no, this was an extremely compelling two hours of television.

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Season Finale: House – “Both Sides Now”

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“Both Sides Now”

May 11th, 2009

You will notice that this is only one of a handful of times that I’ve blogged about House all season. The reasons for that are really quite simple: the show has done very little to compel me to watch it, yet alone write about it, and the longer the season wears on the more weary I become of some of its formula. I wrote about the biggest moment of the season, Kutner’s suicide, but even then it was in an admittedly negative tone: the show is so averse to change, House always being House and the formula always being the same, that any chance to fundamentally change the series always feels like a missed opportunity once you’re a few episodes out.

But the show loves doing season finales, as demonstrated in “Both Sides Now” where we make a ‘shocking’ discovery about the events in last week’s penultimate episode, which featured the long-anticipated (by some) House/Cuddy hookup and more of the return of Anne Dudek as Amber. I love Anne Dudek, and I enjoy the tension between House and Cuddy, but the episode didn’t really do much for me in the end, outside of providing Hugh Laurie with his Emmy reel.

Hopefully, the Emmy voters don’t see the finale which, although containing perhaps the most interesting “case” of the season, felt like more manipulation for the sake of manipulation.

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Yes, I’m Still Watching…FOX’s House

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Yes, I’m Still Watching…House

February 24th, 2009

But BARELY.

I don’t particularly know if I can put my finger on why I care so little about House’s fifth season, considering that I was actually quite a big fan of the fourth one. Although oft criticized for eschewing the show’s regular sidekicks for a new batch, the fourth season felt like things were being shaken up: that the producers realized that the show was in danger of becoming too formulaic, and that some changes were necessary. I like that level of self-awareness in my showrunners, personally, and it was healthy to see it here.

Unfortunately, House has fallen off the wagon for me this season, and I’ll admit right now to having very little desire to even watch last night’s episode, which is waiting for me on the DVR as soon as I get around to it. [I watched it – check for my thoughts in parenthesis throughout the post added after I sat down to watch the episode]. There just isn’t anything about the show that I find engaging, which is because of two fundamental problems: one is the show focus on what is ultimately an uninteresting and worthless character, and the other is that the show’s other drama must derive entirely from relationships, all of which are misguided and doomed to failure if only for the sake of the show’s normal points of tension.

It all adds up to a show that I honestly don’t care about anymore – and there will come a point where I might stop watching altogether in the very near future.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: House – “Wilson’s Heart”

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“Wilson’s Heart”

Season Four, Episode Sixteen

Airdate: May 18th, 2008

House’s fourth season was a needed shakeup of its formula, and presented some of its strongest comedy ever in its opening reality show-esque hunt for a set of new fellows to play sounding board for House’s eccentricities. But the emerging fellows also brought the introduction of Amber, also known as Cutthroat Bitch and, by season’s end, the emotional lynchpin for one of the most powerful episodes in the series.

While some may prefer the loud and dangerous “House’s Head,” focused more on the doctor’s internal struggle to remember the events of the bus crash through dangerous drugs and procedures, “Wilson’s Heart” is where the storyline truly comes together. Learning that it was Amber on that bus raised the stakes considerably, and while the first part of the finale (“Head”) gains greater meaning with this revelation I nonetheless cared less about House (who was tragically partly responsible) than I did about Wilson, who had to bear the brunt of the consequences of his friend’s actions.

While Season Five’s attempts at pairing House and Cuddy have felt similarly broad as something meaningful to the show’s emotional core, like House’s flashback to his injury in “Three Stories,” this episode felt the most tapped into something bigger than the show’s procedural construct. Robert Sean Leonard is often given too little to do on this show, with the focus being divided as it is, but he is fantastic here as a grieving boyfriend and, eventually, a friend who blames House for her death.

The episode is also a goodbye for Anne Dudek’s “CTB,” who may have been too much a female version of House to be his fellow but was too delightful a character to abandon entirely. While the winning fellows may have “won,” added as series regulars and all, Dudek got the most material by far: she was robbed of an Emmy nomination for some great work in this episode (and others), but her emotional farewell was nonetheless one of the show’s highlights through four seasons.

“Wilson’s Heart” is somewhat tainted by the fact that the show has more or less abandoned its ramifications halfway into its fifth season, but let its inclusion in the Time Capsule serve as a reminder for the writers: this is how you craft a storyline where we care about the characters and their consequences, not through giving a boring bisexual doctor a terminal illness and having her flaunt it for everyone to see. That’s not tragic, it’s just surprisingly boring for such destructive behaviour, and at the end of the day the show needs to tap into what they had with Amber before Thirteen can feel like something we should care about.

Let’s hope they listen.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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House – “Emancipation”

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“Emancipation”

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.

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House – “The Itch”

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“The Itch”

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.

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