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House Review: 8×19, "The C-Word"

DAHLINGS –

 
For the last few days yours truly has been insanely busy.  And I know how many of my beloved readers hunger for my reviews.  My Twitter feed has been filled with moans of “When, when?” Here you are, darling hearts.  Although I’m not sure what “The C-Word” stood for besides Cancer.  Caring?  Columbia?  Concord Grapes?  It was directed by the show’s star, Hugh Laurie.
 
As I mentioned in my previous review, it’s rather annoying that the show is pulling out this manipulative melodramatic twist for the last few episodes, but better late than never.  This was a complex episode despite some major flaws.  And by far the best this season.  
 
The heart of the show has always been the relationship of House and Wilson.  They have drugged each other, stolen from each other, lied to each other about matters great and small.  And yet the friendship continues.  (One might consider them two halves that make a whole. Or not.)  The regrettable loss of Cuddy has made the House/Wilson dynamic even more central.  This is why the show has been so difficult to watch it this season being tossed to one side in favor of outlandish plots and insipid characters.  Matters have not been helped by Robert Sean Leonard’s uninterested acting and Hugh Laurie’s phoning it in.
 
However, both actors brought their A-game, particularly Robert Sean Leonard.  This was a stellar performance, revealing more of Wilson than we have seen in eight seasons.  The darkness and anger that has been glimpsed sporadically in the past comes front and center.  Both House and Wilson suffer from an inner darkness that they medicate in different ways.  House is an antisocial drug addict; Wilson hides himself behind a cheerful shiny surface. As we discovered at the end of last week, Wilson has cancer, Stage Two thymoma. At the latest doctor’s office, House says, “How many times have I told you I wanted to be alone and you’ve made yourself a pain in the ass?  I owe you.” 
 
Unfortunately, the POTW plot is a straight rehash of “Finding Judas”.  Sick child of feuding divorced parents is put on a carnival ride by the father.  Disaster ensues.  Emily, the daughter, is either cute or crying “Ow, ow, ow!” She has a genetic illness, and her mother (Jessica Collins) is a humorless geneticist specializing in same.  It’s never clear what the father does, but he’s a lot more fun. Chris L. McKenna portrays the confused, loving father, creating a fully rounded character from sketchy material. For some insane reason, Foreman wants Dr. Mom to head the team.  Once again, disaster ensues.
 
Dangerous experimental drugs have been a go-to plot device last season and this season.  Last year House mainlined a drug that caused tumors in his leg.  This time the child is used as a lab rat by her mother, giving her daughter a drug that has not yet received FDA approval.   Joint custody is so not a good idea.

“Mommy’s sorry for almost killing you, sweetie.  She’ll be more careful next time.”

Emily’s illness, as it turns out, is not caused by genetics but from a tumor in her heart.  House has been working with the cases less and less this season, so it’s Chase who gets to have Epiphany Face and solve the puzzle.  One suspects that the show is setting up Chase to be the team leader as the series ends.

 
And, of course, the main plot: Wilson is determined to use an extreme form of chemotherapy to blast his cancer.  It is literally life or death.  The inherent unbelievability of this plan is given what writers call “explainers,” those sentences that explain why a course of action is being taken that would otherwise make the viewer go, “Huh?”  It is clear that Wilson has an excellent chance of survival with traditional therapy (thymoma is almost never fatal).  The “explains,” if you will, are brought to the table when Wilson refuses to die in a hospital.  Then he produces a series of objects from patients who died unexpectedly of cancers with high survival rates.  House objects, but Wilson is determined to go through with it.   What else can House say but, “we’ll do it at my place”?
 
Once the medical equipment is in place, House raises a toast “to stupidity.” Before Wilson can agree, House goes on to give a blood-curdling description of what Wilson can expect. “Agony isn’t a word or a concept. It’s your only reality.”  He then asks, quite reasonably, “What are we doing here, Wilson?” Indeed, what are they doing there?  Wilson looks determined.  This is another moment that outlines how rickety the conceit is, but Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard sell it as well as they can. 
 
 It’s only a matter of time before Wilson is a grey-faced, vomiting mess.  Director Laurie chooses to shoot many of these scenes in tight close-up, letting us see into their emotional lives, particularly House.  House is tender with his sick friend, even with all of the snarky jokes he uses to cope.  He holds Wilson’s head when he throws up into an emesis basin, then wipes his mouth expertly and goes on to the next task.  This kind of care is exhausting, round-the-clock work.  The realism with which this is shown makes these scenes hard to sit through.  (Kudos to the makeup people.  Wilson’s pallor and cracked lips are heart-rending.)

 
House never touches anyone or lets them touch him, with exception of the women he’s been involved with.  With Wilson, the boundaries are dropped.
 

House giving the last of his Vicodin to Wilson.  

A million fangirls scream around the world


But then, crazed with pain and illness, Wilson lashes out at the unfairness of getting cancer, and spews out venomous truth at House.  House sits, hurt, and silent.
House is usually silent when the people he cares about rage at him.  If anyone has any thoughts about this, please post them in the comments.

 
There is an unfortunate cut at the end of this scene to cute Emily, asking, “If I die, will my parents get back together?” (Your faithful scrivener burst out laughing.)   
 
The parents reconcile and Wilson survives the treatment.  There is a reference to three days having passed.  Three days?  Three days?  The child had the usual dozen wrong diagnoses, then major surgery in only three days?  Wilson went through all of that in three days?  You might argue it’s “television time,” but the script itself says three days. Even though Emily is still going to die an early death, she’s okay with it and her parents reconcile.
 
Wilson apologizes for his splenetic remarks, then asks for one last thing: to make it to the bathroom.  House hauls him up and half-carries Wilson to the bathroom.  Wilson notices that House is in extreme pain and asks if how he felt is how House feels all the time.  House gives an answering grunt.  “It really does suck being you, doesn’t it?” Wilson observes.  “At least I don’t have cancer,” is the response.

However you choose to view their friendship, it is indeed true love.  It would have been perfect had the episode ended there.  Instead, House and Wilson return to work.  Wilson finds an open laptop on his desk, hits a button.  Journey blasts out, accompanied by a photo montage of House and two hookers clowning with an unconscious Wilson ala “Weekend At Bernie’s.” Your mileage may vary, but it was a cheap, jarring end to an otherwise excellent episode.

 
“When did I get the time, money and energy to do this? When my Vicodin’s all used up? Ah, screw it.  Par-TAY!”

What did you think about the ending montage?  Feel free to discuss in the comments.
 
Random:
 
Why on earth did they do it in House’s living room and not the bedroom?
 
Apparently Emily’s parents have been raging at each other for years.  One wonders how long the detente will last once their daughter is back to dying on schedule.
 
What is with the cinematography this season?  Half of the show was almost pitch black.

Anything you’d like to say in the comments?  Just bear in mind that I am always right.

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House Review: 8×15, "Blowing The Whistle"

DAHLINGS –

It can be shattering to discover that someone you worshipped has shortcomings. That is what happens to the POTW, Army Biff, in “Blowing The Whistle”, when he finds out his father’s death was not honorable, but a drunk-driving traffic accident in which Dad killed a pedestrian.

Now for the important, shattering, truth: at times I have mixed feelings about House MD. I actually shed a few tears after the episode. Not because of the episode. Your faithful correspondent is deeply saddened that the show she has been intimate with for years is packing its bags and leaving. I know you are all shocked and amazed that I have any shortcomings, but there you are.

With only a handful of episodes left, so it’s hard to tell what is important or unimportant, or unimportant now and extremely important later. In latter seasons, they built up to some major astonishments (for example, in Season 6, discovering that Dr. Nolan, House’s psychiatrist, had been advising him behind the scenes all season without the audience’s knowledge). This episode is surprisingly good, which this season means mediocre in any other season.

Perhaps one of you out there could explain the POTW’s A-story to me. Army Biff (Arlen Escarpeta) leaked a video of a civilian massacre, yes? He will go to prison, yes? His by-the-book brother is well and truly pissed, yes? Army Biff feels it is a matter of honor to let the public know what the military is doing. Biff’s Brother (Sharif Atkins) feels it is a matter of honor not to let the public know what the military is doing. Have I gotten this straight?

Army Biff was a more significant presence than most of the season’s POTWs, with a more compelling story, even if I had trouble following it. Army Biff refuses treatment unless he is given a public forum for the video he leaked and his reasons for doing so. Both sons venerate their late father and each feels in his own way that Dead Dad would approve of what they are doing. Biff knows that his dad died in an accident, but he suspects a military cover-up. However, it is Biff’s Brother who covered up the accident. I did wonder why it would be so shattering to find out that your father killed someone accidentally while drunk…well, perhaps that would upset one a tad. My apologies.

The show might have cast two actors with a passing resemblance to each other. Atkins does a lot with a little, most of which consisted of standing about scowling with disapproval.

House sits with Army Biff and gives a speech about honor. It sounds fairly close to an old-time House monologue :“You’re not doing this for honor. You’re doing this to please your father. And the pathetic thing is, the man you’re trying to please never existed.” (House daddy-issues alert!)

The B-story, taken from “Half Wit” and a few other episodes, has House pretending to have liver failure. In “Half Wit” he faked brain cancer to get experimental drugs to get high. It would have been much more fun if he had let Wilson in on his scheme, as he had when he faked having syphilis to screw with his team in an earlier episode.

“Breaking The Record” for scenes set in the men’s room while House is taking a crap

Adams is the one who diagnosises hepatic encephalopathy from a few vague symptoms. Everyone gets very freaked out. He’s sick! Maybe he’s dying–again! It is obvious that House is again trying to screw with his team. It is Chase, the team member who has known House the longest, figures out how House has been doing it. I mean, Chase has been to this rodeo before.(Note: Jesse Spencer has shaved his neckbeard! God, he’s beautiful. But I digress.)

There were two clinic scenes this time. As often happens, those were some of the best parts of the episode. However, in the first clinic scene, Wilson sounds so much like House that it’s possible Hugh Laurie wasn’t available that day and Robert Sean Leonard was swapped in. But still, highly amusing to see the patient busted for compulsive nose picking. In the second, House has a hungover clinic patient hop on one leg while singing the “iCarly” theme song.

Taub has been freed from the confines of that godawful marital soap opera, allowing him to be the Taub we all know and love. (His gaming name is Taubinator!)

Yet another gaming scene. Taub wins, which means House is dying.

Park gets to be the self-righteous one this go-round, and she is more entertaining to watch than Adams. I may dislike her intensely, but she has a personality to dislike intensely. But if you were deathly ill, would you want someone nattering away at you about right and wrong? If he wasn’t so weak, my bet is Army Biff would take a swing at her.

Wilson is around more, which is always a treat. As I wrote above, I do wish House had let Wilson be his co-conspirator, rather than let his friend worry along with the others. Wilson looks harried and unhappy in most of his scenes. I am hoping that this is the character, not the actor. But then, Hugh Laurie has been phoning it in all season and it’s almost over, so why try too hard? It’s still a shame.

After the past two episodes, “Blowing The Whistle” is a definite improvement. Let us hope the upward trend continues. In what fashion the series ends is anyone’s guess. Your faithful correspondent hopes that the series ends with House and Wilson getting married.

Feel free to discuss in the comments. Bear in mind that I am always right.

Ciao,
Elisa and Fletcher

Random notes:

Seizure in the cold open – check
Blood in odd openings – check
Sarcoidosis – double check

Hugh Laurie looks weird.

Thank God Dominika wasn’t around.

Nothing can make me care about Adams having sex. Seriously. Nothing.

DISCLAIMER: Before all of the House/Cuddy fans explode, yes, I miss Cuddy and I miss Lisa Edelstein.

A Guest, Er, Writer: House M.D., Huddy And…Bacon?

DAHLINGS –

Forgive my long absence! An emergency arose and I had to deal with it. Do not worry, John Cusack will be fine ere long, but I am not so sure about Patricia Arquette.

In any event, a blog-thing such as mine is “content-driven” and I haven’t had the time to create “content.” However, a person who had emailed me prior to this connected me with his very odd project–a series of what he calls “bacon portraits” of the entire cast of House MD. His slogan is, “Everything is better with bacon!”

So in the spirit of pork-lovers and Huddy shippers everywhere, I present to you a work by a person who only wishes to be known as “WJ”:

HOUSE AND CUDDY: A LOVE STORY WITH BACON

Because everything is better with bacon!

>

One fateful day, Cuddy couldn’t help noticing (and wanting) House’s huge pizza bacon burger sandwich.
Cuddy: “That is amazing. It would give heart attacks to the entire cardiac unit.”
House: “I bet you never knew I had so much meat, Cuddy.”
Cuddy: “Charming.”

But it was true. She couldn’t stop thinking about House, or the bacon, or how juicy both House and his sandwich looked. But how to get House to jump her without arousing his suspicions? She only wanted to arouse House.

House’s meat continued to haunt her…so she asked him to help her with a terrible rash, which could only be cured by being “rubbed with bacon grease.” House thought it was kind of weird. Even he had never heard of such a rash. And he knew every single disease in the universe and beyond! But hey, he could get a look at Cuddy’s a**.

So he brought a big wad of raw bacon to her office and rubbed away. It’s a toss-up as to which one enjoyed it more.

Now Cuddy’s *ss was haunting House’s thoughts. Not knowing that Cuddy was coveting his meat, House went to Wilson for advice.

Wilson: “Do you want a relationship or to get into her panties?”
House: “Either one will do. Short-term, panties.”
Wilson: “You need to make a romantic gesture, House. And don’t give her a sweater. That’s what I gave my third wife for Christmas, and we all know how that turned out.”

So, House thought long and hard about a suitable romantic gesture. Then he had an epiphany. She’d asked to be rubbed down with bacon grease. That meant that somehow, deep in her cerebral cortex, Cuddy knew she needed bacon. STAT!

The next day, he presented Cuddy with a huge bouquet of the good stuff! From the deep South, no less!

But remembering that he’d hallucinated a night of passion with her just months before, House started wondering if this was even real. He could smell Cuddy’s perfume, he could smell the bacon, but what was real and what was not? What was the meaning of life? Why was 13 coming back to the show and not Taub? What if Wilson threw him out? Maybe this wasn’t happening at all, he was sitting in his office playing with his giant tennis ball…It proved too much for House, and he collapsed.

House came to with Cuddy tenderly holding a piece of bacon to revive him, while Wilson watched jealously.
Wilson (thought): “House never gave me a bacon bouquet. Just a dumb brisket corsage. And that was when he was drunk.”
Cuddy: “House, are you all right?”
House: “What–what happened to the bacon?”
Cuddy: “While you were unconscious, I ran to the staff lounge and put it in the refrigerator. I–I couldn’t risk letting it spoil.”
House: “Bacon doesn’t spoil, Cuddy. If you weren’t Jewish you’d know that.”
Cuddy: (wishing Wilson would stop glaring at them and get of there already) “House–House, this isn’t easy for me to say. Wilson, could you excuse us?”
Wilson: “Just until I know that House is okay.”
Cuddy: (with a look at Wilson) “House, I want you to teach me about bacon. In fact, I want you to be my meat guide, to show me the wonders of being a true carnivore. I know it’s going to feel so good.”
House: “We’d better get out of here and get that bouquet, before Chase eats it.”

And so, that night, Cuddy and House shared their bacon…and oh, so much more.

And they lived happily ever (or at least for about two weeks)…BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BACON! EVEN HUDDY!

Thank you, “WJ”, for a truly strange experience. And thank you, mon cher readers, I do hope you enjoyed this, er, bizarre creation as much as moi.

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog

Preparing the Menu for My "House" Viewing Party

DAHLINGS –

The first rule of entertaining is: invite interesting guests. The second is: unless it’s a birthday or anniversary, have an interesting central theme. The third is: abundant food and drink. Later tonight is the “Instant Karma” episode of House, and so I though I would share my party menu with all of my wonderful readers. If you have any suggestions for future viewing parties, please do send them on in the “Comments” section.

(I should note that for “Project Runway” I only serve Krug and caviar. Otherwise it tends to get messy when people start arguing over who sent the ugliest garment down the runway.)

DRINKS
Jack Daniels for House fans
Cosmopolitans for Wilson fans
Australian chardonnay and Foster’s Lager for Chase fans.
Mimosas for Cuddy and Cameron fans
Plain water for Foreteen fans

MAIN COURSES AND SIDES
Vindaloo curry in honor of Stacy and Kutner
Asian fusion chicken in honor of Amber
Sweet and sour pork for Huddy shippers
Toothpicks for 13 fans
Jasmine rice for Cameron fans

DESSERTS
Babka for Taub fans
Lemon creampuffs for Hameron shippers.
Dark chocolate mousse for Foreman fans
Vegan brownies for Cuddy fans
Fudgecake for Hilson shippers

My guests will be arriving soon–must dash!

Ciao,
Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog*

*his favorite character is Evil Nurse Brenda