HOUSE: Private Lives - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Private Lives

March 10, 2010 by  

This year’s Academy Awards featured a marquee match up between real-life ex-spouses Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. With a built-in “David vs. Goliath” storyline to attract casual viewers, the Oscars reached its crescendo as the Best Director nominees were announced. After weeks of hype, the inexplicable happened. Immediately after Ms. Bigelow was named the winner, the ABC cameras cut to a wide shot of the Kodak Theater. Did the former partners speak, embrace, or acknowledge one another? The audience was left without answers, because of an ill-timed decision by the show’s director.

Next year, the Academy might want to call on Sanford Bookstaver, director of this week’s House. With a resume that includes stints at the helm of “Jericho,” “Bones,” and “The O.C.,” the veteran director’s versatility meshed well with the team at Princeton Plainsboro. In an hour full of good humor, startling revelations, and pointed commentary about the nature of community, Bookstaver did not waste a single shot.

The House/Wilson friendship is the backbone of this show, so I was predisposed to enjoy the heavy dose of Hugh Laurie & Robert Sean Leonard in this episode. When the two best friends trade biting insults and caustic barbs, viewers are given the chance to laugh heartily. Whether trading tips on porn etiquette or discussing the merits of attending a speed dating event, House and Wilson make me chuckle in a way that most mainstream sitcoms do not. Wilson’s foray into pornography, even as a pre-production insert, was absolute genius. Writer Doris Egan did a fantastic job using the vintage film as a source of embarrassment for Wilson, but not a source of shame. There are sitcom writers who could take a page from Ms. Egan’s book, especially those who beat a joke into the ground. Be not afraid to leave a punchline alone.

Let’s talk about the speed dating experience more closely, shall we? I have always thought that the clinic gave Dr. House the most optimal place to produce laughs, but I stand corrected. House’s evisceration of the cougars seeking love was an instant classic. Wilson’s struggle to find a woman who had not suffered a cancer-related loss was pitch perfect, leaving him absolutely flustered. Chase’s presence, in addition to giving Jesse Spencer something to do, also provided fodder for House and Wilson to deal with their concerns about growing older and less attractive.

After the notecards were collected, and the cougars were dispatched back to their cages, Dr. Chase was sucked into a typhoon of paranoia. By examining the actions of those around him more closely, Chase actually had me believing that there are actors whose looks are a liability. Though I am NOT a proponent of having Chase and Thirteen ever become romantically involved, I did find the scenes between Spencer and Olivia Wilde entertaining and playful. Keep your fingers crossed that Chase’s journey to get back on his feet won’t involve getting Thirteen on her back.

Quick show of hands: who had House’s biological father as the author of the book in your office pool? If you did, I am thoroughly impressed, as Bookstaver’s direction led me on the path to red herrings repeatedly. I am not a film school graduate, but I think that suspense is critical in telling this type of story. Once the news broke, however, the director used the notion of faith and prayer in powerful images. As House struggled to find an answer for Frankie’s symptoms, we saw him gazing to the heavens at his office window, then with his hands folded in front of his computer. It’s the stuff of English majors, but even this Political Science major was able to follow the story without words.

During my recap of Season Five’s The Itch, I gave my two cents about the implications of a Wi-Fi world on the notion of intimacy. Though I loved Laura Prepon’s performance in this episode, I was uncomfortable with the characterization of blog readers as simply “followers.” My experiences, both through GMMR and social networking sites, is that communities are built along two-way streets. Let’s use the comments thread to talk about this in more detail, because I am genuinely curious to read your thoughts.

Did the patient’s story ring accurately to you, or as something out of the “Julie & Julia” deleted scenes? Is Jesse Spencer right about being too “good-looking?” Did you enjoy House’s motivation for reading his biologicial father’s book? Do you want the two men to meet? Let’s talk…

After writing about good television programs, I am searching for a new favorite “bad TV” show. With Jersey Shore’s season behind us, my free time must be absorbed by something mindless and DVR-worthy. Tweet your suggestions to me @FreelanceErik


11 Responses to “HOUSE: Private Lives”

  1. gbbg on March 10th, 2010 11:54 pm

    No comments??

    I thought you might get some bricks for the cougars comment.

    My personal experience tells me that the line between online communities and having an audience is very thin one. Bloggers usually tend to get carried over by stats and hits. Sharing such personal stuff, especially hiding the things “they won’t be interested” shows that she was indeed writing for an audience.

    Smell something on Chase.. or the impending one-off show featuring a blast from the past?

  2. Melissa on March 11th, 2010 1:22 am

    I thought this was a great episode. I loved seeing Laura Prepon on tv again, and I think her performance was fantastic. I loved the whole Wilson-porno storyline, and each time someone quoted something from the video to Wilson after House discovered the video, I giggled. The poster was genius. When Wilson discovered the truth about House’s father, I thought it was very Wilson-like that he was more interested in analzying House’s desire to read the book than to continue the practical jokes.

    I was glad to see more of Chase in this episode as well; a big “thank you!” to whomever decided he needed a haircut – I don’t know if Jesse could have pulled off this ep with the grungy locks of old. The speed dating scene was awesome – I loved the interaction between the crazy women and the three doctors. Jesse (mostly) managed to pull off the American accent, and the end of that scene was great. I also liked the interaction between Chase and 13; I hope they don’t hook up – I don’t really get “that” vibe from them. I think Chase and 13 understand each other, though; they’re the two prettiest people at the hospital (Cuddy is next on that list), and 13 seems to have more awareness of the role her looks have played in her life, so it was fitting that she was helping Chase come to terms with the curse of being too good-looking. This part of the storyline was a good vehicle for starting the ball rolling so Chase can get over Cameron.

    This is already too long…sorry!

  3. Julie on March 11th, 2010 4:32 pm

    Cougars are women who date younger men. House and Wilson met women who looked younger for the most part, therefore not cougars. All the women liked Chase, so we can’t really consider them cougars, either.
    I really enjoyed the interplay between House and Wilson – I could watch them forever. The medical story was the typical House formula, 3 wrong guesses then a miracle save by House, but the blogging angle was very interesting. To me it was very different from Julia and Julia, as the character’s motivation for blogging (total honesty, to connect with people you don’t have to look in the face) was very different.
    If you don’t blog about it did it really happen?
    Re: Chase and 13 – I don’t 13 could ever take Chase seriously, but if they hooked up it would make for a verrry interesting couple of episodes.
    And I still have no feelings of closure around Jennifer Morrison leaving. I expect her to come striding into the hospital at any second. Really, I don’t understand the breakup at all. I mean, I understand it, but it doesn’t make sense. Why don’t we ever seen them talking on the phone, arguing about the cable bill, or the rent/mortgage payments?

  4. Erik on March 12th, 2010 5:46 pm

    gbbg: It took some time for the “cougar” comments to get tossed back at me, but I was probably using it incorrectly. Your point about online interaction is adept. In the years I’ve read popular internet sites and/or columnists, I have rarely seen a blog like Frankie’s attract a large following and remain detached. At some point, the person becomes the performer. The process of sharing, writing, or venting should be its own reward. However, a post that generates zero responses can be jarring to the creator.

    As for your Chase question, I am also in the dark about his romantic future. Jennifer Morrison’s return episode appears to be a one-off for Season Six, but rumors of an extended return have been bubbling. In his two chances to shine this year (the DiBala storyline and this episode), Jesse Spencer has been interesting to watch. Otherwise, he simply fills another seat at the diagnostic table.

  5. Erik on March 12th, 2010 6:01 pm

    Melissa: I enjoyed reading your blog. The “Breaking Point” entry reminded me of my banking days, and you have an entertaining style of writing. Keep up the great work!

    Before the “Wilson” episode aired, I was lucky enough to participate in a conference call with Robert Sean Leonard. (This is where I shamelessly plug the accompanying post for that interview, available under the “House” or “Posts by Erik” headers attached to this recap) Since that interview, I have become fascinated with Mr. Leonard’s choices in scenes with Hugh Laurie. You are 100% right in pointing out that Wilson wants the best for his friend, and the balance of humorous banter and poignant concern is so difficult to pull off credibly.

    As for Chase’s return to the dating pool, your read on Jesse Spencer’s scenes with Olivia Wilde is probably correct. If there is anyone else in the world of House (onscreen or off) who would understand the “downside” of winning the genetic lottery, it is Thirteen/Wilde. Because I have been frustrated with the followup on potentially significant story arcs in Season Six (House’s recovery, Foreman’s brother, etc), I choose to remain optimistic that Chase’s reintroduction into single life will lead somewhere. Stay tuned!

    Thanks for adding your two cents, and never hesitate to express yourself in long paragraphs. It’s the only way that I can communicate, as brevity is my enemy 🙂

  6. Erik on March 12th, 2010 6:18 pm

    Julie: I take full responsibility for the inaccuracy of my cougar references. It’s a fun term to throw around, but the context was missing. On the other hand, Jesse Spencer would be a favorite in that community, right?

    My efforts to keep the recaps to a reasonable length (700-800 words) probably gave too little attention to Laura Prepon’s story, and you raise an interesting point. I spend my real world time in the classroom, and teenagers in 2010 have a distinctly different view of intimacy and communication than I remember. Texting has replaced face-to-face conversations. Facebook status updates are more revealing than phone calls. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, because the world seems to be moving with them.

    All of your Chase/Cameron feelings are justified, particularly the abandonment of any “progress reports” about their demise. Jennifer Morrison is scheduled to appear in an upcoming episode, so we’ll all have to wait patiently to see how her (brief) return will move Chase forward.

  7. Rachel on March 26th, 2010 10:14 pm

    Hey Erik and world,
    Any one catch what the diagnosis was, Wibbles Disease? I’ve googled it and can’t find anything. Please help if you caught it, thanks! :0)

  8. Erik on March 27th, 2010 1:12 am

    Rachel: Here’s the explanation of Frankie’s diagnosis and chances for recovery, directly from the rundown of “Private Lives”

    “She has a GI infection that causes malabsorption called Whipple’s disease. Taylor will still need a new heart valve but she is going to survive. Frankie decides to go with the pig valve and Taylor brings her laptop over so she can write about it.”

  9. JennyL on April 14th, 2010 4:15 pm

    I am so behind on House, I just finally got to watch this episode last night.

    I liked the blogger story-line, and thought it was true to life, knowing a few bloggers myself…something happens in their life and their first instinct is to blog it!

    But help me out, my dvr stopped recording before I heard the conversation end between House and Wilson. Did he learn anything from his bio-father’s book? What was their final conversation?

    Great recap – thanks.

  10. Erik on April 26th, 2010 4:56 pm

    JennyL: It is never too late to interact on GMMR! I usually scan the older recap threads on a weekly basis, since the show often runs on different schedules around the world. I would hate for someone in Europe, for instance, to feel that they are “too far behind” to be part of the discussion.

    Blogging is a unique style of communication. I’ve noticed that some seasoned journalists, when given the opportunity to blog themselves, have found it easy to insert more autobiographical information than they probably planned to. Even my TV stuff, which is 90% grounded in the events of a particular episode or event, are sprinkled with anecdotes that betray my privacy, but enforce my arguments. It’s a strange balancing act, but also liberating…

    As best I can summarize, here were the key moments of House & Wilson’s discussion. Wilson argued that House’s interest in reading his bio-father’s book, rather than meeting him in person, was an attempt to understand his thinking, perhaps find some common ground by which both House and his Dad were both “special.” Beyond the religious content, Wilson believed that House wanted to find a person who was like him. Unfortunately, what House found underneath “the God stuff” was simply more God stuff.

  11. JennyL on April 28th, 2010 2:07 pm

    Thanks Erik..very much appreciated! 🙂