Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The running man

Spoilers for "House" and "Standoff" in a jiffy...

"Tell Cuddy I want Ketamine..." Ever since the good doc said those words in the finale, it was clear that the writers were going to explore life without limping -- and David Shore and Katie Jacobs confirmed that in separate interviews I did over the summer -- but I still wasn't quite prepared for the image of House running like a mad fiend, or of him doing the Joel Goodson slide into a patient's room.

So I suppose it's appropriate that, just as House is regaining his mobility, he deals with two patients who have lost theirs -- and more severely than he ever did. And because irony isn't dead, no matter what we were told five years ago, the cures for "Stephen Hawking" and Yoga Girl will no doubt hold much longer than House's.

(Stephen Hawking's miracle recovery was corny as hell... and I was close to reaching for the Kleenex about four times during that scene, pretty much from the moment Cuddy decided not to potentially prolong the guy's suffering just to teach House a lesson. Nicely shot, scored, and played by Lisa Edelstein and Kathleen Quinlan as the wife.)

The idea that it wasn't the cane or the pain that made House cranky was broached pretty thoroughly in the finale, but as we all know, all but the first and last scene of that were a dream, and it was good to see it play out in something resembling the real world. Even if the writers try to do Hugh Laurie's spinal column a favor by keeping the limp away but bringing back the leg pain on occasion, we know that emotionally, House isn't going to change.

Nor would I want him to, not if it would mean the loss of bits like him throwing food at the janitor and blaming it on Wilson, or randomly setting fire to a patient's foot to prove a theory.

Very, very strong premiere, even if the scene with Cuddy and Wilson discussing which case House should deal with in his return from hiatus ("It's a great visual, but it's diagnostically boring") was a bit too meta for me.

As for "Standoff," don't have a lot to say beyond what was in my review on Monday: I like Ron Livingston, like Rosemarie DeWitt, and like them both together, but I think the show bungled big-time by starting the relationship in media res. I just didn't care that they were on the verge of breaking up when I wasn't given any time to invest in them being a couple. Plus, I want Gina Torres to have a lot more to do than play TV's 10,000th Disapproving Ethnically-Diverse Law-Enforcement Boss, and every time I look at Michael Cudlitz in that sniper uniform, all I can think is "I want Chris Sabian!" ("Chris Sabian?" "Who's Chris Sabian?" "I want this Chris Sabian here right now!" "Does anyone know where Chris Sabian lives?" "I think I've been to Chris Sabian's house once or twice!") Cudlitz was actually quite awesome in "Band of Brothers," even though he and Livingston didn't have many scenes together, so I'm hopeful that relationship will be interesting, too.

Based on the actors, it's going to get a much longer leash from me than, say, "Vanished" got, but not a great start.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I was just freaked out by how much Kim Johnston Ulrich looked like Hilary Clinton.

I can't even see this as a guilty pleasure; I may love Gina Torres and Ron Livingston, but the warrantless searches, the attempt at "banter", and the disregard for anything resembling protocol was too much for me. On what planet would the delivery truck driver have just opened a package sent from a suicide bomber???

Anonymous said...

It was fantastic to see House back. The grape thing was hilarious and so House-like. Even with the 'Hawking' cheese factor, I thought it was a very good episode and a great start for the 3rd season.
Regarding Standoff, I really WANTED to like this, but sadly I didn't.
When did Gina Torres become Chi McBride?

Anonymous said...

I finally got around to Standoff last night, and I generally liked it, at least once they got to the actual hostage negotiations. I really wonder how they're going to keep it from being repetetive, though.

And I think you're selling The Negotiator short. That's an entertaining movie with one of the best casts of recent years. Spacey, Jackson, J.T. Walsh, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, David Morse, Paul Giamatti (who almost steals the whole damn film), Siobahn Fallon, Regina King...good gravy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, I've always liked The Negotiator. It's a very well-constructed B-movie with A-list actors. But every time I see it or think of it, the first thing that comes to mind is the sheer number of times someone says "Chris Sabian." It's like Kevin Space demanded that people repeat his character's full name as often as possible before agreeing to take the role.