HOUSE: Unfaithful - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Unfaithful

February 17, 2009 by  

The medium of television hatches a special bond between the audience and their most beloved characters. In dozens of ways, both profound and infinitesimal, a familiar face in our living room transcends the gap between fantasy and reality. Unlike their film counterparts, who drop in on us for two hours in between handfuls of popcorn, the actors who grace our television screens become anything but larger than life. We see them as proxies for our non-broadcast adventures. They provide shorthand methods of conversation, and emotional reference points when we cannot find the right words. For instance, I find it daunting to describe the type of woman who I would like to marry. On the other hand, I am really just looking for my Pam Beesly. These relationships, though crafted in a fictitious world, can feel intensely personal. For this reason, producers have to be very careful when steering “our” characters into unfamiliar territory.

This week, the producers of House took a leap of faith. Throughout the first half of Season Five, a vocal and passionate constituency of loyal viewers have taken to forums like GMMR to express their dissatisfaction with Olivia Wilde’s increased screen time. Whether those opinions originated from a preference for more of Chase & Cameron, a personal judgment regarding Wilde’s talents, or a frustration that the House creative staff was simply fixing something that was not broken, the concerns were real. With Foreman & Thirteen’s romance functioning as the primary story in “Unfaithful,” I am curious whether Katie Jacobs and David Shore were throwing down the gauntlet. With Foreteen having the last laugh at episode’s end, the decision to allow the students to outsmart their teacher may have been short-sighted and ill-conceived.

House’s ultimatum for Foreteen, inspired by Johnnie Cochran, was, “If you don’t split, I’ll make you quit.” The playful scene at which House offers this career/relationship advice, as well as Foreteen’s subsequent diner date, were all that needed to be included for the point to be made. With lives on the line, judgment and clarity are non-negotiable requirements of a physican’s duties. Foreman made a horrific mistake, fueled by emotion but unchecked by ethics. A story that could easily have been told in three scenes infected at least four others. Other than offering Chase & Cameron the chance to mingle with Thirteen, I could not find much benefit to riding the Foreteen roller coaster for a full hour.

Hugh Laurie was able to get some camera time this week, and he certainly made the most of it. The three way dance between House, Wilson, and Cuddy over attending Rachel’s naming ceremony was perfection. The House/Wilson friendship remains the soul of the show, in my opinion, and I was pleased to see them share four scenes together. Too often this season, Robert Sean Leonard has been reduced to cameo appearances, and it detracts from Laurie’s opportunities to illuminate House’s true self. In addition, I was delighted by the conversations about faith between Laurie and guest star Jimmi Simpson. House’s difficulty in outwitting Priest Daniel Brisson was a nice piece of verbal jousting by writer David Hoselton. The final scene between doctor and patient should have given the audience pause in the ways we think about coincidences.

Before I turn the discussion over to you, I must rave about the musical selection that closed the episode. Though fans have seen demonstrations of Hugh Laurie’s musical aptitude before, you may be surprised to learn that the piano arrangement that House plays as the world around him rejoices was composed by Laurie himself! While the song’s title was not listed in the closing credits, I am officially calling for its inclusion on the next House soundtrack.

How say you, House fans? What is your take on this week’s religious theme? Are House & Cuddy fun to watch again, or is it too little, too late? Did the focus on Foreteen add to or take away from the episode? For Chase & Cameron fans, what did you think of their stint as career counselors? I cannot wait to read your comments!

How does Erik combat writer’s block? He indulges in podcasts of the Adam Carolla Radio Show and reads Bill Simmons’ columns on The GMMR House scribe is an active participant in the economic recession, and is working on a pamphlet outlining the etiquette of handling Facebook requests from old boyfriends/girlfriends.


11 Responses to “HOUSE: Unfaithful”

  1. Mary on February 17th, 2009 9:55 am

    I freakin’ hate Thirteen/Foreteen. Every time the episode built up some momentum (such as House’s wonderful conversations with the priest), bam, we have to come to a dead stop and deal with this unconvincing romance. It’s kind of tragically hilarious that on paper Foreteen has so many “dramatic” aspects – it’s interracial, she’s bisexual, it’s forbidden because they’re coworkers, she’s got a terminal neurological illness just like Foreman’s mother does — and yet it fails because it’s so freaking BORING. The writing is very paint-by-numbers soap opera and Epps and Wilde just do not have the chemistry to bring it off. Which is sad because Foreman was my favorite character in the first season of this show, and I initially preferred 13 to Cameron. In fact, I think Wilde is a better actress than Jennifer Morrison is/was. But I’m not sure Meryl freakin’ Streep could salvage 13’s lame storyline. All my opinion of course.

    By contrast, House/Cuddy is odd because objectively, I can see why everyone complains about the sucky writing (for Cuddy especially). But when Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein are in a scene together, their chemistry is so sweet and real and quietly sexy that I just don’t care. I could honestly watch them hang out together for an entire episode. I don’t normally get gushy about TV romances, either, but somehow I really like seeing these two screwed-up people inch closer and closer to each other. Lisa Edelstein’s reaction shot when House walked out of the hospital at the end of the episode just kinda broke me.

    But, honestly? The (odd) couple that I’m most interested in is Taub and Kutner. Other than House/Wilson, this is my favorite double act on the show. They have a weird little Rosencrantz & Guildenstern vibe going on. I love the slow reveals we’re getting about each of their characters, but I’m also dying for each of them to get a real storyline soon.

  2. robertas on February 17th, 2009 4:42 pm

    I do share your sentiments regarding 14 and I completely agree with Mary – I found it annoying they were cutting in some great moments – like Wilson getting more then 2 seconds of screen time for example (yay for that although it is sad really because once upon time that was not the case).

    I loved, loved, loved this week’s patient. Loved.him. I know shows (like anything else) evolve over time (and not necessarily in a good direction) BUT to me this much like Wilson – House relationship was/is one of the main reasons I loved the show to begin with.
    The dynamic between House and his patients changed each week, but it was never dull. Well not until this season anyway. These interactions were fun to watch, but this season I couldnt even remember what the last episode was about. Let alone who was the patient.
    And like Mary I am interested to see where Kutner and Taub will go with their relationship, they do crack me up sometimes.

    It was nice to see Cameron and Chase (really they are both so underused) while Cuddy well I still find it all too childish and silly. I mean where has that feisty woman gone?

    And Erik – I too love Hugh behind the piano, if you are craving a fix rummage through YouTube you will find some great clips from A Bit of Hugh and Laurie 🙂
    Although be prepared for plenty of Hugh in a drag too 🙂

  3. robertas on February 17th, 2009 4:50 pm

    Sorry silly blond me, its A bit of Fry and Laurie 🙂

    And if you really want something hilarious find Mr. Brumie sketch, it is by far one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

  4. Give Me My Remote on February 17th, 2009 5:43 pm

    It’s amazing anyone is cured at that hospital, what with all the high school relationship drama. House and Cuddy are driving me crazy, and not the way a will they/won’t they couple should. I want them to get together and realize they were never meant to be. And if that could happen all in one episode I would be grateful.

    I loved the scenes between House and the priest. I wanted them to become buddies.

    Cameron and Chase – why are they still even on the show? Can’t those actors get jobs where they actually have some screen time?

  5. SB on February 17th, 2009 5:52 pm

    Erik, I’m behind on my House watching and don’t really have anything to add except that I read your recap and I think it was well-written and thoughtful, and is provoking a good discussion, so great job! 🙂

  6. Erik on February 17th, 2009 11:22 pm

    Mary: There are legions of House fans who share your view of the Foreteen pairing, in particular the “soap opera” twists and turns that have accompanied their arc. My assertion that the House team was “throwing down the gauntlet” anticipated a mixed response to this episode, and I am curious if we will see more episodes that deviate from a formula that has generated huge ratings for almost five seasons. In addition, I am also a big fan of the Taub/Kutner comedy duo, and your Shakespearean reference is quite apt. I often pay too little heed to the “B Team” in my recaps, but Taub & Kutner have contributed delightful asides over the past few episodes. Who can forget their ambitious plans for the Gregory House online clinic?

  7. Erik on February 18th, 2009 1:41 pm

    Robertas: After reading your take on House’s quirky and entertaining conversation with this week’s patient, a light bulb went off in my cranium. Between Wilson, dearly departed P.I. Lucas Douglas, and Daniel the Priest, House’s best exchanges this season have all been with men. Is it possible that we are more interested in House’s pursuit of friendship than his awkward dance around romance with Cuddy? This might be an obvious point that I completely missed in the early part of the season, but your comment provoked a new way to look at the show for me. Also, I will be spending some time on YouTube searching for your recommended Fry and Laurie clips. Thanks for contributing!

  8. maura on February 18th, 2009 4:32 pm

    Your first graf is the perfect description of our relationship with television characters – something I’ve always thought, but never quite knew how to express. Thanks for that. You’re right – the writers are really testing at this point, and I have to agree that the friendship storylines for House (PI, priest, and even the hostage taker guy) are the standouts this season – Wilson/House always at the core. Perhaps as a defense mechanism due to my complete unwillingness to recognize House and Cuddy as a will they/won’t they couple, I choose to only see this as a friend relationship for House too. I think he genuinely cares for Cuddy (and obviously think she’s sexy hot because he has eyes), but he just wants the best for her and can’t figure out how to be that guy.

    Also, completely agree with Mary on Taub and Kutner. They have started making me forget to miss Chase and Cameron.

  9. geebs on February 19th, 2009 12:58 am

    Why hasn’t the show’s opening titles changed? I mean, there are new people in, and the show still has the old opening??
    Other than that, I have already pointed out Kutner and Taub’s chemistry previously, but Foreteen has to stop.
    The only good thing about them has been outwitting House at the end of the show. Does House know about it?
    Is 13 still working?

  10. Erik on February 22nd, 2009 12:34 pm

    Maura: Thanks for your feedback. Your assertion that House & Cuddy are most compatible as friends is right on point. The most awkward exchanges between the two have come when their potential coupling is confronted. Though I usually find House’s writing team to be top notch, those “will they or won’t they” scenarios never leave me wanting more. Instead, House’s true path appears to be finding a platonic female companion, while remaining available to leer at the Thirteens and Camerons of the world.

    Geebs: If I understand the credits issue accurately, they are the product of each cast member’s contractual agreement with the studio. Without regard to the prominence of each actor’s place within a particular episode (or season, for that matter), his/her name always appears in the same order or place of prominence. Some appear during the title credits, while others show up during the roll into the first scene after the credits.

  11. maike on February 28th, 2009 12:03 am

    i have one question , what are the actors names, from this soap ?
    actualy mostly pointing on the sun of the patient , who had aids since he is born,. thank u for helping me out =)