HOUSE: Wilson - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Wilson

December 3, 2009 by  

No matter how hard I tried to be objective, my experience watching House this week was undeniably influenced by my chat with Robert Sean Leonard. As the “Wilson” episode unfolded, I flashed back to Mr. Leonard’s observations about his character, his work ethic, and the irreverent nature of Wilson’s bond with House.

As a little experiment, this recap will be woven around some of the most notable quotes from that conference call. My hope is that this change in format will be as enjoyable to read as the “Wilson” episode was for me to watch.

“You know, I’m the Carlton the Doorman of my show. I’m not the most ambitious guy. I like playing the best friend. It’s good to be the lead of a show for a week, but I wouldn’t spread it all around too much. I like my role the way it is.”

It was compelling to watch Wilson take center stage at Princeton Plainsboro. The Oncology department is a vastly different animal than the clinic or the ICU, and I was impressed with how well director Lesli Linka Glatter introduced the nuances of Wilson’s everyday routine. From the playful banter with his assistant to a distinctively different bedside manner from his best friend, Wilson’s work environment reflected someone with a sense of structure and an aversion to risk.

“Josh Malina, this great guy… is the patient, and he’s an old friend of mine, and he gets into some trouble and I have some moral decisions to make throughout the show, and yep, it’s a personal case for me.”

I am an unabashed fan of Josh Malina, since he was responsible for shaping one of my all-time favorite TV characters. As Jeremy Goodwin, the earnest associate producer on “Sports Night“, Malina provided hope to nerds like me that we could succeed at our jobs and still get the girl of our dreams.

As Tucker, a man who is grateful to those who saved his life but ungrateful to the family who sustained him, Malina exhibited significant depth. Rather than pigeonhole Tucker as a “self-important jerk,” as House described him, Malina took writer David Foster’s script and injected genuine conflict. After a cluster of episodes that went over-the-top in facilitating Cameron’s departure, this story was a nice way to bring the conversation down to a hushed tone. When Tucker explained that, “The person you want when you’re dying isn’t the same as the person you want when you’re living,” I actually paused the DVR to consider the legitimacy of that assertion. Though I would like to believe that I would behave differently under the circumstances, I welcomed a line of dialogue that provoked such a genuinely emotional response.

When you say, “move forward”, does that mean a wife and a house or a child? For some people that is forward, but I don’t think it is for everybody. I don’t know if Wilson is cut out for that. I know it sort of goes against –everyone seems to think he’s, you know, Fred McMurray, —the early Fred McMurray, not like Double Indemnity—I just don’t see Wilson as the fuzzy dad in a suburban household.

The most noteworthy arc from this episode was Wilson’s decision to take a stand against Cuddy, albeit through the non-traditional route of real estate. Though I am no fan of the Huddy saga, a stance shared by many in the GMMR community, there was something liberating about Wilson’s assertiveness on House’s behalf. Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard are the best onscreen duo that this show has, and I was grateful that their friendship provided the backbone for this story.

Only Wilson, who Leonard sees as a bleaker, darker guy than audiences assume, would take a stand on behalf of a man who awakens him with an acoustic performance of George Michael’s “Faith.” For me, the most memorable sequence from this hour is the montage following Wilson’s surgery, as House makes certain that his friend is not alone. Just as Steve Carell and John Krasinski occasionally betray their onscreen personas in their scenes together on “The Office”, I think we watched Robert Sean Leonard and Hugh Laurie reveling in the joy of one another’s company. Simply perfect…

“That’s my joke with Wilson. I think he’s a dark guy. He has three ex-wives, he lives alone, he deals with death every day, his best friend is House; I mean, he’s very odd. He’s not Mr. Rogers…he’s not the guy next door.”

Thank goodness that he is not, or else I would have very little to look forward to each week. As many of you have written over the past two years, the more Wilson, the better. Robert Sean Leonard’s fantastic performance places ‘Wilson’ alongside the season premiere as Season Six’s two elite episodes.

I am eager to read your thoughts about this departure from the House formula, and about Josh Malina’s role. Let’s get the conversation started!

How did Robert Sean Leonard do in his showcase episode? Are we beginning to see the first signs of life in the post-Cameron world? What did you think of Josh Malina’s performance as Tucker? Would you feel good about donating part of your liver to someone who fit that personality type? Let your voices be heard…

Aside from writing about House and Parks & Recreation, I am searching for a new favorite “bad TV” show. With Top Chef ending soon, my limited free time must be absorbed by something mindless and DVR-worthy . Please send suggestions to me on Twitter.


6 Responses to “HOUSE: Wilson”

  1. Emily on December 3rd, 2009 8:52 am

    I absolutely enjoyed the episode and reading your recap just reminded me why. I was horrified at the end, that after Tucker nearly guilted Wilson into giving him part of his liver, he went back and just…. it was like the experience didn’t change Tucker at all. His initial change seemed fine, because nearly dying does change you. But then, having the second change, it made him seem like an ass. It left me feeling shocked.
    But that is what made for a good and memorable episode.

    There’s so much that this episode made me think about and question and I absolutely love it. Will take a few rewatches to try to get all the nuances and figure out why it is as good as it is. I just love how much it broke the mold and gave a deeper issue to think about.

  2. GMMR on December 3rd, 2009 1:07 pm

    Erik- I always enjoy the episode so much more after reading your commentary. I too had to take a moment after Josh Malina’s character made the statement about his future. So despicable, but I suppose honest too.

  3. Lisa (aka lmr) on December 4th, 2009 7:44 am

    I have to admit to being a casual House watcher prior to this season, Broken got me hooked. I think ‘Wilson’ kept me hooked. There is something wonderful about the juxtaposition of House’s and Wilson’s temperaments and styles up against their friendship. Their friendship made more sense to me after this episode. We saw that both are suited to their chosen specialties – Oncology takes patience while diagnostics takes immediacy and brute force. Seeing House’s team running around frantically while Wilson spent time with patients, it all just made sense.

    I too am a Josh M. fan dating back to Sports Night and so the actor’s accumulated goodwill in my mind was shaken by Tucker’s selfishness but it was genius. It wouldn’t have been House had it not had that dark side. Unfortunately, life is like that. Sigh.

  4. Anne on December 4th, 2009 10:36 am

    An excellent recap/review of a great episode that brings the caliber of the show back to the standard set by Season 6 premiere Broken. I agree with all of the above comments and don’t want to re-hash them. But I have to say that I paused the DVR on the same spot that you did and loved the House/Wilson montage after Wilson’s surgery. I actually preferred not to hear their dialogue and thought it was an ingenious touch to have the two interact without audible dialogue. Aside from the curiosity factor (what *were* they talking about?!), it lent a deeply felt sense of their kinship that intimated to me the quality of the actors’ friendship offscreen. What interested me was the juxtaposition of the friendships between Wilson/House and Wilson/Tucker. I was comparing two “jerks” and finding House’s character the truly devoted, concerned, caring character. Although he argued with Wilson, he also gave him a great deal of support, insight, and information throughout the episode in comparison to Tucker who just accepted Wilson’s gift of friendship, seemingly without any thought, of giving something in return. House has proved throughout the recent seasons that I have watched that he is capable of being a wonderful friend, albeit quirky and unpredictable. The look on Wilson’s face when he saw that House had come to watch over him during surgery was so poignant and beautiful; the look on House’s face when he initially refused to be there with Wilson during his surgery is another such moment. Anyway, I’m done blathering now. Thanks again for writing such a great review and giving me the opportunity to respond.

  5. gbbg on December 25th, 2009 7:38 pm

    I finally got the time to watch it. Though after the last episode the fizz did go out of the enthusiasm I usually have for House.
    Wilson’s stand on Cuddy’s housing was weird to me. I didn’t understand why he was siding with House. Did I miss something?

    For an ordinary viewer, it would be easier to hate Tucker for leaving his family. But then, from his perspective, it might make some little sense, but the fact that he literally blackmailed Wilson putting his family as a face, makes it easier to dislike him.

  6. Mary Grace on June 12th, 2010 7:31 am

    This episode was rerun last night on Fox, and I made a point of watching after having read this commentary a month or so back. I got so much more out of this episode on the second viewing. I think it is my favorite ep this season apart from the finale. Just love RSL. Does anyone know when the Season 6 DVD will be released? I have Seasons 1-3, skipped 4 & 5, and will definitely buy 6.