What a weird night of television for me. First I suffered through the second episode of "Cavemen" just to confirm that it's a blight on society, which it is. (If the actors weren't wearing the caveman prosthetics, it would be a bad Fox sitcom circa 1999.) Then I watched, in rapid succession, "NCIS," "Reaper" and "House" and kept seeing the same things again and again. First, Kathleen York (aka Toby Ziegler's ex) popped up on "NCIS" as one of Gibbs' exes, and there she was again on "House" as Foreman's new boss. First I saw "Chuck" (the night before) do a plotline where its hero is up for the assistant manager job, and then "Reaper" put its hero up for assistant manager. First "Reaper" did a joke about something being nicknamed "Grumpy," and then House assigned the same nickname to one of his fellowship candidates.
Not only are there no new ideas in Hollywood, but the old ones are getting repeated in the same damn night. To quote the great Matt Kennedy Gould, what is going on here?
Anyway, spoilers for "House" and "Reaper" coming up just as soon as I offer Kathleen York an assistant manager job and then ask why she seems so grumpy...
I find it odd that team "House" put out the news of which actors would be sticking around long term -- I'm not going to list the names here, but I'm also not going to stop people from doing it in the comments, so beware -- as it spoils the outcome of the fellowship hunt for anyone who pays a bit of attention to entertainment news. So as this episode was going along and one of the chosen three (assuming only three will stick around) would seem on the verge of getting fired, I shrugged, because I knew that, like Kumar last week, they'd find a way to force themselves back into contention.
Still, an interesting episode -- and a surprisingly busy one for this show's standards. We got the potential cottages working on one patient, but split into two teams in a way that made it feel like two stories; Foreman working through guilt issues and doing his best to resist his inner House with his new team; House doing clinic duty and getting a suicidal impulse from Patient Switchblade; and even some glimpses of the happier, more confident and mature Cameron and Chase. That's a lot going on for a show that's usually content to deal with four people arguing about one patient, but I thought they balanced it all well, which is a good sign for the inevitable point when the original cottages rejoin the fold at the same time that House has picked his new team.
Also, this was one of the few times in the show's history where I guessed the diagnosis early and was right. As soon as the guys came into the patient's room just as Thirteen was about to give him the pills, I had this feeling that he was never going to get around to taking them. There's some rule of drama about that. It's not Chekhov's line about what you have to do if you put a gun onstage in the first act, but something like it, something about how, if a pencil falls off a table in the middle of a scene, the scene becomes about the pencil until someone picks it up, because that's all the audience is going to think about. This is going to drive me nuts until someone puts a name to that in the comments; since several people were kind enough to explain in scientific terms why "doucehbag" is a funny word in my "SNL" post, I know I can count on you again.
In fairness to "Reaper," their assistant manager story wasn't exactly the same as the one on "Chuck," in that Chuck wants the job and Sam doesn't, but the shows are still way too similar -- and based on three episodes apiece, the execution on "Chuck" is much better.
Here, the villain was once again an afterthought. She was thematically tied to Sam's fear of asking Andi out, which I guess is a step in the right, "Buffy"-esque direction, but she still lacked personality, other than being made entirely of bees. Basically, "Reaper" is like all those police procedurals I complain about like "Saving Grace" and "Life," where the characters might be interesting but the episodic stories are too uninspired to care about. I like the banter among the guys (Sock and Ben arguing about Ben's salad order was a nice moment), and I love Ray Wise (his smile as Sam realized Satan was behind the asbestos thing at Andi's school made me laugh very loudly), but if this show's going to have any legs, the writers really need to beef up these Monster of the Week plots.
What did everybody else think?