HOUSE: Office Politics - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

HOUSE: Office Politics

November 9, 2010 by  

As a longtime devotee of TV shows that perished too soon, I empathize with fans of JOAN OF ARCADIA. The critically heralded CBS drama produced just 45 episodes before its cancellation in 2005, leaving behind a loyal audience of viewers who embraced the idea that a teenage girl could communicate directly with God. Though the premise of the show appeared to stretch the limits of one’s imagination, this week’s HOUSE helped me understand why fans of Joan Girardi were so disappointed to see her story end. Amber Tamblyn, the brilliant actress who brought Joan to life, joined the team at Princeton Plainsboro with a performance that knocked everyone, including Hugh Laurie, off the screen.

The role of Martha M. Masters could have easily been another roadblock in the uneven 7th season of HOUSE. Idealism often comes across as self-righteousness on television. Even an experienced, capable actress would be hard-pressed to inject humanity into a character centered around doing the right thing, each and every time she is pressed to act. Clearly, Ms. Tamblyn is beyond capable, as I bought into every shrug, quizzical look, and frustrated whimper that she exclaimed. Instead of serving as an annoying do-gooder, running around the hospital shouting down bad behavior, Martha stands her ground by using logic to test her new colleagues in a respectful manner. And no one buys into her methods more than the most morally ambiguous member of the staff, Dr. House himself!

With all due respect to Taub’s post-up moves on the basketball court, Chase’s voyeuristic need for human conflict, and Foreman’s evolution to a calmer, gentler character, this episode was all about the remarkable interplay between House & Masters. Hugh Laurie is a gigantic talent, and a generous enough performer to improve the performances of the actors around him. If “Office Politics” is any indication, Mr. Laurie has finally encountered a scene partner who is equally talented, and the results were explosive.

The signature moment of Martha’s debut was a simple admonition to Dr. Cuddy, the woman who championed Masters’ addition to House’s team. “That’s an extremely cowardly position!” Five words that won over her new boss, earned the respect of the Chief of Staff, and launched Amber Tamblyn onto my list of favorite actors. Everything about that exchange was perfect. Tamblyn’s delivery, Laurie’s impeccable facial expression, and Lisa Edelstein’s sudden shock, all played with 100% authenticity. In a matter of seconds, Martha M. Masters became the most substantial female character on House in years, fusing mental acumen and academic credentials with self-confidence and professional ethics. I may be harping on such a small scene, but it may be my favorite moment of House over the past three seasons.

Amber Tamblyn is more than a breath of fresh air for House viewers. She is emblematic of how much more the show can accomplish, given the right set of characters and storylines. This was an exciting episode, and I rarely apply that adjective to this program. Sanford Bookstaver’s direction and the chemistry between Laurie & Tamblyn added real stakes to the patient story and Masters’ frequent changes in job status. I bought every minute of tension, hesitation, and contemplation in this hour, and trust that more is on the way.

Now that my love letter to Ms. Tamblyn’s talents is complete, a brief note about the closing cliffhanger, Cuddy’s discovery that House has lied to her about Rogan’s test results. House & Wilson’s exchange crystallized the situation precisely. It is different to lie to your girlfriend than to lie to your boss. On the other hand, the lesson from House & Cuddy’s first batch of episodes as a couple was that they BOTH found comfort in the separation between their personal and professional relationships. I struggled to find the groundbreaking significance of House’s actions, particularly given his track record of using the ends to justify the means. The writers had better find an interesting angle to pay off this speed bump on the Huddy highway, or they will face another backlash from the “House isn’t a soap opera” faction of their audience.

Following a month-long sabbatical, clearly inspired by Thirteen’s sudden disappearance (and a new, demanding day job), I am thrilled to be back on the House detail, and more eager than ever to read your comments. Let’s get the conversation rolling, shall we?

What did you think of Amber Tamblyn’s debut? Is Martha M. Masters the secret weapon to kick Season 7 into high gear? Who was happy to see HRG back on Monday nights? What about the Huddy drama? Is Cuddy’s disappointment justified? Should House abandon his unconventional approach to medicine for the sake of his libido? I’m excited to read your thoughts, so please chime in early and often!

Filed under #1 featured, House, House Recap


12 Responses to “HOUSE: Office Politics”

  1. tw111 on November 10th, 2010 3:53 pm

    Didn’t see her on Joan, but I best remember Amber Tamblyn for her role on ‘ Southland ‘ as the wealthy heiress-turned-policewoman. Great actress.

  2. cobbly on November 11th, 2010 5:43 am

    Loved Masters!

    I agree with everything you said about her 100%

    Best female charter on House, since the early days of Cuddy (when she was actually believable)

    Masters manged to do what Cameron and 13 both failed to do, be ethical and go against House- WITHOUT being totally annoying. Bravo Amber Tamblyn!

    I always disliked Cameron, and hated 13 right from the start, I was beginning to think I just couldn’t like any female characters on House, but Masters won me over in less than one episode. It has got me excited about House again! I hope to see alot more of her.

    I also agree about that scene where she called Cuddy a coward, she won me over then too. I didn’t expect it, but at the same time it made perfect sense for that character.

    I also love that she is a genius, it means she is able to debate with house on another level… on his level. It adds a whole new dynamic to the team. The fact that she’s a student also means she cant do any procedures by herself, which means we should get some good interactions between her and the other 3. It was a smart move from the writers to do that.

    As for Huddy, well thats what I cared least about in that episode. I know the relationship has to crash and burn at some point, I just hope that this isn’t how it happens. House lying to her in order to save a patient should be expected behavior, and on the list of things hes done to her it ranks very very low. I hope that Cuddy lets it go, maybe it sews a small seed of doubt in her mind, but if it causes a massive fight and a break up ill be disappointed. The House writers can do better than that, and while I’m sure Hugh Laurie will somehow manage to make me believe it, I’d rather it be believable before his magic.

  3. GbbG on November 12th, 2010 2:51 am

    Hey Erik! Glad to see you back in action..

    I didn’t buy into the new character, not yet. But what I loved about this episode was the fast exchange of taunts and questions, comments and gossip between the the staff. It was fun to listen to the good writing with some witty dialogue.

    I was talking about the point Wilson made to House to my girlfriend and we kind of yay-ed to House probably changing to Cuddy’s hopes. Its sad to see them crash, and the music and shot at the end, didn’t make it a very pleasing end to our Thursday.
    It seems as if the writers are throwing every road block they can at this relationship, probably to make it stronger or end this season on a cliffhanger again.

    Anyway, welcome back. I miss Cameron and 13 though.

  4. Tracy Fischer on January 17th, 2011 9:48 pm

    I hate Amber Tamblyn’s character. She’s preachy, annoying, and all she does is piss House off. Why doesn’t she go the way of the other people who have come and gone because they weren’t good enough. Please…I’m sick of muting whenever she’d on the screen…please leave!!

  5. Gab on February 9th, 2011 8:29 am

    As a medical student I have never seen a more unrealistic character than this one. Ethics doesn’t do much when the patient’s dying; and she seems completely unprepared to take responsibility for others’ welfare, only to uphold what she deems as justice. House has lived with many patient deaths, most of them probably credited to him in one way or another.

    This may sound cruel but I’d love to see an episode in which Masters’ patient dies because of her sense of justice. Sometimes one just has to do what one needs to do, even if it means deception. She really needs to wake up from her dreamland and see the reality.

    Another thing: experience is what speaks volumes in diagnostics, NOT brains. So that’s another unbelievable facet of her. I would NOT want her as my physician; if she preaches about doctor’s ethics, perhaps she should take off her nail varnish as well? Imagine a woman with a red nail varnish doing your pelvic. Yuck.

    Oh, and heels are NOT allowed during rounds, for an obvious reason. Tamblyn should really lose them, they’re a hazard.

  6. Sabretruthtiger on March 27th, 2011 3:31 am

    It’s unrealistic, House not only has a higher IQ (It’s a proven fact that the top male geniuses are smarter than the top female ones) He has vastly more experience. This is a noticeable trend in popular TV shows, the global elite that own hollywood and the mainstream media have been subjugating men and empowering women as much as possible because men pose the biggest threat to the new world order. This is why men are portrayed as incompetent, bumbling, stupid buffoons and pedophiles in TV ads and shows. This is why a female scientist presents current affairs items on breakthroughs despite not being the primary scientist, it’s why current affairs items on child prodigies tend to focus on females. Men have higher IQs but more importantly they’re physically stronger and more likely to challenge authority than women, thus The NWO want women to be in charge as much as possible as the ‘elite’ implement the Global government.

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