HOUSE: Joy...and Pain - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Joy…and Pain

October 30, 2008 by  


In 1989, NBC’s blockbuster hit drama, “L.A. Law”, put the issue of adoption front and center in America’s living rooms. The program’s most committed couple, Stuart Markowitz and Ann Kelsey, welcomed a baby girl into their family after a disappointing effort to conceive naturally. Over a seven episode arc, we watched the new parents meet their daughter for the first time, adjust to the rigors of maintaining two careers while raising a newborn, and tragically lose custody of the baby to a teenage birth mother having second thoughts. Though I was just twelve when those episodes aired, I remember weeping aloud as the family court judge destroyed Stuart and Ann’s dream of an extended family. Perhaps it was fitting that a real life couple, Michael Tucker and Jill Eikenberry, was tasked with helping the viewing audience understand the crippling blow that it dealt to their fictional marriage. The combination of their formidable acting skills and a first class writing team produced a re-invention of how television could deal with a relatively new kind of family drama.

After watching the final scene of last week’s House, as Cuddy revealed her intention to adopt, I was concerned that the producers may have bit off more than they could chew. In particular, I worried that the characters of House and Cuddy would fall victim to writing that could easily become melodramatic and insincere. Would Gregory House tear up if he saw Cuddy holding her newborn? Would Cuddy herself be thrown into the pile of TV actresses of yesteryear who became irrelevant once the baby train left the station? Those questions were not resolved entirely this week, but the early signs were encouraging.

Before she became Cuddy, Lisa Edelstein stole my heart in recurring roles on Sports Night and The West Wing. Those parts demanded performances that lived up to Aaron Sorkin’s writing, and Edelstein always delivered. This week, relying on a solid script from David Hoselton, Cuddy navigated a series of emotional turns. An interesting bond develops over a relatively short time between Cuddy and the birth mother Becca, played by Vanessa Zima. The scene that demanded the most nuance from Edelstein was her agonizing consultation with House over what advice to give Becca regarding her medical treatment. The central question in that scene, “Deliver now, risk the baby. Deliver later, risk the Mom,” spoke volumes about the difficulty that Cuddy must have been experiencing as both a medical professional and an expectant parent. At episode’s end, when Becca made the heart-tugging, yet predictable, decision to keep baby Joy precisely because of the happiness it had brought Cuddy in the O.R., the final conversation between Becca and Cuddy rang true.

What did NOT ring true, at least to this humble recapper, was the climactic scene leading to the momentous House/Cuddy kiss. Since I prefer to be unspoiled, I do not know what direction this relationship takes going forward. However, I remain on the fence as to whether House’s actions reflected a sensitive streak of humanity or an opportunistic cloud of narcissism. Even the casual TV fan has seen this type of scene before, as an emotionally defeated woman falls into the loving arms of the man who was there to catch her. Whether the circumstances be a broken engagement, the loss of a job, the death of a parent, or the unique wrinkle of losing an adoptive child, the pattern is unmistakable, and I am patiently waiting to see how the writing team will spin this in a new direction. Obviously, I am extremely curious what your reactions were to the birth of Huddy. See, even the name needs to sink in before we decide if we like it!

Finally, a quick kudos for the inventive qualities of this week’s mystery patient. From an inventive cold open that captured the dreary confusion of a chronic sleepwalker to a shocking third act diagnosis of Familial Mediterranean Fever, I was pleased to see such creativity carved into a medical mystery which could easily have been overshadowed by the Cuddy/Becca/House interpersonal gymnastics. In fact, I enjoyed Thirteen and Taub’s investigation into the patient’s lifestyle and habits. Is it possible not to enjoy watching Taub purchase street cocaine, only to have Thirteen return it because it was not the type that drug dealers sell to true addicts? Take that bit of comedy, add in a person actually sweating blood through their pores, and you have a viable piece of fodder for the House team.

This was an eventful week, so I am looking forward to your opinions more than ever! Are you Huddy-shippers, or are you concerned that this may become a distraction to the series? Did you see the twists and turns coming with the mystery patient? Were you impressed with Vanessa Zima’s performance as Becca? Did you miss Lucas Douglas? All of those questions remain to be answered, along with any others you have.

— posted by Erik

How does Erik stay grounded from his luxurious life as a substitute teacher? He keeps it real with ALF DVDs & Fantasy Football. On weekends, the GMMR HOUSE & SURVIVOR guru spends quiet time imploring the TV gods to bring back Sports Night & Ed. Erik resides in South Florida and spends his summers following Dave Matthews Band.

Filed under House, House Recap


9 Responses to “HOUSE: Joy…and Pain”

  1. bertas on October 30th, 2008 6:25 am

    Well I’ll thrown in my 2 cents 🙂

    While I was pleasantly surprised by Lisa Edelstein’s performance (I found her very blah/borderline annoying over the past few seasons) and even though the baby story was utterly predictable as you have pointed out, the kiss… well Hugh Laurie as an actor can do no wrong in my book (have been a fan ever since the days of Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster). And sometimes with him the look or the expression on his face tells just as much as the words he says.

    But to be frank the kiss made me cringe in horror. Even though there was a prelude of torn, confused look on his face just before (to possibly rule out the option of him taking advantage or whatnot). I might be in minority but it just didnt sit right.

  2. Lynzee on October 30th, 2008 11:47 am

    GREAT write up! I might as well throw in my two cents as well…

    So I on the otherhand, cannot stand Lisa’s characters. All the way back to Bobby on Sports Night, something just has never sat right with me. She just annoys the crap out of me. And as Cuddy on House, she is insulting to professional women by the way she dresses and allows herself to be manipulated by House…


    I’m a sucker. Joey and Dawson, Ross and Rachel, Pam and Jim…. predictable or not, I always love seeing a person and their counterpart hook up. I didn’t see it coming until seconds before and then couldn’t pick my jaw up off the ground for minutes after. I think if the writers play this right, this will introduce all kinds of akwardness and awesome back into Princeton Medical. Glad Huddy is FINALLY happening and ready and willing to see what they do with it.

  3. John on October 30th, 2008 1:48 pm

    I have read about fan support for Huddy, but I can not see it myself.

    This is because I find House such a toxic individual I can’t imagine anyone having any more contact with him than required by their job.

    He is an interesting character to watch, but for someone to find him attractive or pleasant seems impossible. Of course there are women who marry convicted serial killers so I guess it isn’t total impossible.

  4. Carly on October 30th, 2008 3:22 pm

    I’m not necessarily in love with Huddy but I definitely like them. It’s not a jim/pam or ned/chuck relationship in my mind, but going all the way back to the earlier seasons when it was either house and cuddy or house and cameron, I PRAYED for house and cuddy. theyre the most compatible on the show I think.

  5. Erik on October 30th, 2008 7:54 pm

    I had a feeling this episode would elicit strong opinions on a variety of topics.

    bertas: I am grateful that you found the end game on the adoption issue to be predictable. My original post gave it short thrift, and I hoped no one would infer that I was being critical of the writers. As we learned from Friends, babies do not mesh well on shows that take place outside the traditional family. I also think that the kiss itself could end up being a mistake, despite my shared admiration for Laurie’s acting chops. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out, so the producers have done their job on that front.

    Lynzee: I respect your opinion about Ms. Edelstein, who has been a love/hate presence for the audiences of those earlier shows as well as House. There will certainly be “unique” moments around the corner no matter how the Huddy relationship unfolds, and the cast of House appears quite capable of discovering gold in the minutiae.

    John: Your thoughts on Dr. House echo my concerns about how the adoption storyline could lead to a difficult evolution in his character. After spending four seasons developing a uniquely flawed man who serves as a protagonist while antagonizing others, I am struck by how quickly some fans would like to see the Huddy connection help House grow in some way. Isn’t it possible that he simply is who he is, and would be just as unreliable of a partner/husband/father that we think he would be?

    Carly: I definitely agree that House & Cuddy are a vast upgrade from the potential of House & Cameron as a couple. From a professional standpoint, it never made sense to me that House could have any significant attachment to a subordinate. It’s just not his way. In addition, I have a pet peeve about TV shows that promote age-inappropriate relationships, and I think the House/Cameron pairing treaded very close to a line of inconceivability. We’ll all have to see where the writers take us in the weeks to come.

    Keep those comments coming!

  6. Emily on October 31st, 2008 10:31 am

    I could have cared less about the House/Cuddy/Becca/Joy storyline overall. I guess because Cuddy is always a hit or miss character with me, and this season, its been mostly a miss. However, I loved the storyline with the anhedonia and how much they were missing in their life. So that part was cool.

  7. Erik on October 31st, 2008 7:23 pm

    Emily: Great point about the missing pieces in the father and daughter’s lives. That was a nice device for the writers to use in bringing the single parent theme into view. I was much more emotionally taken by the two patients waking up to see one another with woken eyes than the Huddy kiss. Stay tuned!

  8. seeleybaby on November 1st, 2008 6:55 pm

    I don’t really watch House, but this week I caught it. Good recap, and yes, I love LE as Bobbie B on Sports Night…speaking of…when are you going to do the Sports Night Take Five? I can’t wait to read that.
    My fave part of this episode was when House took a bite of the apple.

  9. Erik on November 1st, 2008 9:06 pm

    seeleybaby: Thanks for the reminder about Sports Night. The new 10th Anniversary DVD set has been sitting on my shelf since I moved last week, and I had completely forgotten about doing a quick run through them to put the “Take 5” together…