Tuesday, November 13, 2007

House: Pretty/ugly

"House" spoilers coming up just as soon as I put on a necktie...

Yes, yes, yes, yesssssss!!!!

Freaked out too soon on the Michael Michele front. Sorry 'bout that. Turns out she was supposed to be unimpressive medically, and was hired entirely for her looks -- and given how meta this entire episode was (complete with a joke about how vomiting blood would have been a cool act-out, not to mention the documentary interviewer having the same name as Fox's head of reality programming), perhaps a commentary on the actress' entire career?

While House's increasing panic at his hot babe blind spot led to some amusing moments -- I especially liked him freezing with fear as he asked Foreman for confirmation on the skleroderma diagnosis -- it didn't really fit the character. Michael Michele's pretty, sure, but she's not vastly prettier than either Jennifer Morrison or Olivia Wilde, and House has never been shown in the past to be too dazzled by Cameron or Thirteen's beauty to do his job. It was an easy joke, albeit a funny one, that came at the expense of character (and was, I suppose, some kind of parallel commentary to the story of the deformed patient).

As for the episode as a whole, it's hard for me to comment, as my wife the hospital administrator spent virtually the entire hour interrupting with "Oh my god, that would never happen!" It's hard to get into the flow when you have to keep hitting the instant replay button on the DVR remote while saying, "For the love of God, it's just a show!" (She gives me the same treatment when we watch movies or TV shows about newspapers or sports and I turn into Ted Mosby: Corrector.) That said, the fake documentary episode is a dramatic cliche that's outlived its usefulness by now, and there weren't any moments where the presence of the cameras forced characters to show new sides of themselves, or even surprising juxtapositions between what the cameras caught and what was actually happening.

This was our spotlight episode on nickname-less Taub (and I'm still waiting for the explanation for why he and Kutner don't have nicknames), and it was interesting to see how easily he slid back and forth between seeming likable (finding a way to let the dad consent to the drug screening, going over House's head when they disagreed on the diagnosis) and totally reprehensible (caving on the dangerous test because he didn't want to look bad on camera, being a serial adulterer). We've now had some kind of look inside the head of every candidate except Thirteen, and that's been part of the point of Thirteen -- plus it looks like she gets another showcase next week. Will House have even cut this bunch down to three before we run out of episodes?

What did everybody else think?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, am I losing my mind, or didn't House just do a storyline where Lyme disease or a similar tick wasn't caught until someone got their head shaved? Was it a different medical show altogether?

cpennylane said...

There was an episode with House pulling a tick out of a girl's "area" last season.

David J. Loehr said...

I'm pretty sure it was House, sometime late last season, because I remember the same idea and I really don't watch any other medical shows. My wife is the medical buff, I watch for Hugh.

Early on tonight, in the "is this an offer or a game?" scene, when House admitted it had been an offer, my wife turned and said, "Alan's blood just ran cold." And I replied that no, I was sure she'd be gone by the end after a scene like that, it was the only "surprise" they could pull with it.

As for her supposed edge in attracting House, I don't think it's that she was much more attractive than the other women, Wilson's amusement aside. I think it's that she's more exotic, she's been in the CIA, and most importantly, she's got legs and knows how to use them, which is a nice grace note of a fetish for him. Fortunately for him--or at least for us--he's incapable of suffering stupidity.

My wife has fond memories of grad school, sitting and watching the first season of ER with med students and listening to them tear into all the errors. She herself does that with CSI from time to time. I can only imagine how wildly goofy House is. (Knowing Princeton and Plainsboro, I know how weird the show's geography is.)

Anonymous said...

Scrubs Season premiere did the tick in the hair this year.


afoglia said...

am I losing my mind, or didn't House just do a storyline where Lyme disease or a similar tick wasn't caught until someone got their head shaved? Was it a different medical show altogether?

I don't know about the former, but the hidden Lyme disease mark was done on Scrubs just two weeks ago. And again, I'll point out that not all cases of Lyme disease present the famous bull's-eye shaped rash.

Anonymous said...

I third the commenters who think you're thinking of the Scrubs Lyme-disease plotline. And Taub just got a nickname: Mini-Stud.

I can't watch Law & Order because the courtroom scenes invariably require one or more of the judge or one or more of the attorneys to do something completely unrealistic to move the plot along. Perfectly happy with the show for 40-50 minutes, then, bam, there's something that destroys the episode for me and I'm left shouting "How could you not object to that line of questioning?!?"

-- Ted

Bix said...

It's interesting that with the bizarrely awesome meta Michael Michelle bashing, this episode was written by Homicide (and Oz) actor/writer Sean Whitesell, who became a producer on House this season.

Anonymous said...

First, congratulations.

I'd agree that the documentary crew thing's been overdone -- M*A*S*H's fault, right? -- but I don't think it was useless. This episode was about image; the focus was on the plastic surgeon (hopefully "Mini-Stud" doesn't stick), and I think the goal was to watch him progress from (a) unwilling to contradict House on camera to (b) wanting to be the hero on camera to (c) willing to be wrong on camera. To go from suck-up to insubordinate to Good Doctor. And though the arc progressed a bit messily, it got where it needed to. And, as House said at the end, it made him a keeper. Because now he's interesting.

As far as House falling out of character, I'd allow that Michele hit a sweet spot for him, or perhaps he was weakened by the fact she'd actually responded to his flirting.

Just really, really enjoying this show this season. Wicca!

Woodrow L. Goode, IV said...

Alan, there are two levels of implausibility-- "wouldn't happen in real life" and "wouldn't happen in TV's version of real life". This episode violated both.

I've become inured to stuff that doesn't happen in real life, but has become a dramatic convention through repetition. Attorneys aren't allowed to argue in an opening statement. Neither doctors nor cops get assigned to a wide variety of cases. Computer programs don't "answer" questions in plain english.

Since these devices are usually just shortcuts to make the plot move faster-- and are used so commonly that audiences expect them (and would be put off by reality, such as a spaceship that didn't "swoosh" by), I'm willing to lump them under "suspension of disbelief".

What's occurred in the last two episodes-- doctor poisons patient to promote research, nobody notices a blatantly obvious symptom (for the second time), supervisor comments on employee's sexual attractiveness, fires her and then asks her out, all in front of witnesses-- is phony even by the standards of American episodic drama.

One can elect to say "I'm willing to look past it because I watch House for (insert reason)". It's still phony-- an insult to the viewers' intelligence and a huge step down from the early seasons (which stretched plausibility at times, but not on this level).

And when coupled with the tired "documentary" device-- and the continuing chain-jerk of the competition-- it's not surprising that Hugh Laurie recently ran screaming back to the U.K. I'd be pretty upset if I had to act these scripts, too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Scrubs! Thank you! As I was trying to fall asleep last night, my brain was occupied with going through recent Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice stories, without Scrubs somehow occurring to me.

K J Gillenwater said...

Two things:

1) Yes, House did start to check the theory that he hired pretty women who were dumb--he was hoping he hadn't been blindsided by beauty. He also questioned his analysis of 13's suggestion...so it wasn't just him questioning his judgment with Michael Michele. Also, he asked about Jennifer Morrison and her 'smartness.' Plus, remember from the very beginning, he only kept the row of applicants that he had just fired b/c of 13 (I think it was her, anyway).Plus, he kept 13 around even after she killed a patient...if she hadn't been pretty, would she even have stayed???

2) There was a good use of the documentary crew...when they went to interview Jennifer Morrison's character. She revealed something to them... that she 'loved' House. Also, they used the clips from the documentary to make House appear to be a nice doctor who cared about patients. That might come into play later on...who knows? For me the resulting documentary was hilarious. So I say, bring the crew back for more!

afoglia said...

Here's a thought. Maybe House was blindingly attracted to Michael Michele's character not only because she's attractive, but because she first appeared in a position of authority over him.

It's weak, but maybe someone can convince me.

Mapeel said...

. . . but because she first appeared in a position of authority over him.

That would just make her Cuddy.

Anonymous said...

Chase is becoming the most interesting character on the show. Even more so than Dr. House who is becoming more and more one-dimensional. The show should focus more on Chase, get rid of Cameron and Foreman and keep Cutthroat Bitch. Unfortunately, I think 13 will be hired instead and that's a shame because she's nothing but Cameron Lite.

Matt said...

I'm not convinced 13 isn't more than Cameron-lite. She's never really been in awe of House, which Cameron still is, and Cameron has an inferiority complex that people won't think she's smart/a good doctor because she's attractive. 13, on the other hand, will work it.

Two other points:

1. Surprised no one remarked on the meta-"walk and talk" thing, which had to be an Eli Attie add, right?
2. In the "next week," the brilliance of both the line "Bring me the thong of Lisa Cuddy!" and the fact that said garment will apparently serve as an immunity idol of sorts.

Unknown said...

I hate the word verification thingy! I don't type fast enough, it changes before I'm done!
13 looked panicked on the doc camera, is this foreshadowing to a secret past? She doesn't want to be found?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I turned off word verification for a long time, but then a new comment spam program started hitting dozens of posts a day. Sorry.

Chip said...

Actually, he kept 13 around *because* she killed a patient.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd remind everyone of this little conversation from the pilot:

Cameron: Why did you hire me?

House: Does it matter?

Cameron: Kinda hard to work for a guy who doesn’t respect you.

House: Why?

Cameron: Is that rhetorical?

House: No, it just seems that way because you can’t think of an answer. Does it make a difference why I think I’m a jerk? The only thing that matters is what you think. Can you do the job?

Cameron: You hired a black guy because he had a juvenile record.

House: No, it wasn’t a racial thing, I didn’t see a black guy. I just saw a doctor…with a juvenile record. I hired Chase ‘cause his dad made a phone call. I hired you because you are extremely pretty.

Cameron: You hired me to get into my pants?!

House: I can’t believe that that would shock you. It’s also not what I said. No, I hired you because you look good; it’s like having a nice piece of art in the lobby.

Cameron: I was in the top of my class.

House: But not THE top.

Cameron: I did an internship at the Mayo Clinic.

House: Yes, you were a very good applicant.

Cameron: But not the best?

House: Would that upset you, really, to think that you were hired because of some genetic gift of beauty not some genetic gift of intelligence?

Cameron: I worked very hard to get where I am.

House: But you didn’t have to. People choose the paths that grant them the greatest rewards for the least amount of effort. That’s the law of nature, and you defied it. That’s why I hired you. You could have married rich, could have been a model, you could have just shown up and people would have given you stuff. Lots of stuff, but you didn’t, you worked your stunning little ass off.

Cameron: Am I supposed to be flattered?

House: Gorgeous women do not go to medical school. Unless they’re as damaged as they are beautiful. Were you abused by a family member?

Cameron: No!

House: Sexually assaulted?

Cameron: No.

House: But you are damaged, aren’t you?

Cameron: I have to go.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this epsiode and thought it was hands down best of the season so far.

Whenever I see a show is going to 'documentary episode' I always initially think of Access and just shudder. But all of the meta comments (house's 'okay you'll say this and then i'll do this and we just skipped 3 scenes' amonst others) as well as the producer's name made for some pretty funny moments in the episode.

Character wise I'm actually surprised that Foreman didn't try to assert himself more throughout the case, especially when House asked him about the diagnosis Michelle pitched.

floretbroccoli said...

My favorite thing about last night's episode was seeing House and Wilson interacting as friends, not just torturing each other.

When was the last time we saw such a scene?

Of course I still enjoyed Wilson's telling the documentarians that House is Wiccan.

Anonymous said...

agree with floret....the scene of wilson being interviewed about House and making it seem as if he was a Wiccan was a definite laugh out loud moment. Even though he seems to be in episodes less this year, I have come to cherish the moments when Robert Sean Leonard is on screen, and wait for the next hysterical thing to come out of his mouth!

Anonymous said...


I think you missed the point of the Michael Michelle storyline. It continues and sets up the theme that House's biggest weakness is being susceptible to those who echo his ideas but needs and prizes, deep down, those who challenge him.

You saw that in several instances this week, where Wilson chided House for hiring the MM character because she appeared smart in the last episode but really just agreed with House, his jettisoning of the old guy/fake doc because he had mostly the same ideas, and Foreman's retort to Taub that House really only cares whether you're right, not whether you've disobeyed/disagreed with him.

This sets up the hiring/firings that will mark the rest of the season.

Karen said...

God, I really did love this episode, but probably for all the wrong reasons.

I loved the Wilson interview. I loved Cameron rehearsing her clarification re "love," while Chase slumped on a bench in the background. I loved the crew's re-editing the footage to make House look benevolent and caring--and loved House's inability even to watch it.

And--sue me--I loved the meta. The blood-vomiting "act-out." The walking and talking "appearing to move the action forward." The "I just skipped three scenes for you." When a show becomes known for something, I really do eat it up when a writer gives us an episode that acknowledges it, with humor.

That said, I almost couldn't have cared less about the actual story. Frankly, that's become the best way for me to enjoy "House" these days: forget the plot and concentrate on the characters.

I'm glad Terzi was bounced, mostly because the actress doesn't appear to have facial muscles that allow her to convey emotion, and that does irritate me. And I agree with poster "anonymous," above, who says that firing Terzi fit into the pattern of House not keeping around people who don't challenge him.

Anonymous said...

Sean Whitesell, who, as noted above, wrote this episode and became a producer on House this season, is not only a former Homicide actor/writer, but also he played a doctor on Homicide (Dr. Eli Devilbiss, whose most prominent part was in "The Doll's Eyes" episode). More useless trivia, but I'm still amused.

I own the "Dr. Devilbiss" nametag that was pinned to his white hospital coat (I bought the nametag & various other HLOTS props at the sale at the HLOTS "station house" many moons ago).

Anonymous said...

I think the whole Michael Michele hate thread is a bit Perez Hilton. One would think she owned the show and hired herself in spite of a lack of talent from reading the venomous comments. Cripes, I get it, she creeps you out acting-wise, it just seems so over the top compared to the rest of your writing.

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love 13, won't hear a word against, and hope she stays.

And yes this is partly because she's fiercely attractive, but she is in no way Cameron Lite.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Anonymous @3:40 AM said. Michael Michele is not my favorite actress, but she is capable and quite pretty and she elicited in House something which I have never seen before. There was real chemistry between the two and the potential for something interesting.

I hope Dr. Terzi comes back in the future and sues Dr. House and/or the hospital.

Taleena said...

I find it interesting that Foreman is not jumping to diagnose anymore. He is like the TA who knows the answers and is sitting watching the students flounder.

I like Mini-Stud. In fact, even though he is a serial adulterer, I think he is the best of the applicants. I think he is a romantic at heart explained by his whole "I see what that kid could be" speech to Foreman.

I think of all the applicants he will fill the role of relating to the patients families the best and in a nice way different from Cameron's drippy eyed bleeding heart.

Since he signed a non compete I am assuming he is a kick ass plastic surgeon especially given a pissed his old partners were at the suggestion that he might resume practice.

Anonymous said...

I hope Dr. Terzi comes back in the future and sues Dr. House and/or the hospital.

This is exactly what I predicted at the end of the episode and I fervently hope it doesn't happen. The show falls apart every time there's an extended arc with House dealing with some kind of conflict or nemesis: Vogler, Stacey and Tritter were all the worst parts of their respective seasons. If the writers go to that well again I will be really disappointed, especially since this season has been so good so far.

Unknown said...

good ep, but could have done without the meta stuff. the whole world is so meta and "look at me and see how clever I am" these days that it's not clever anymore, and just detracts from the episode overall. This show is too good for that kind of crap.

Sorry to see Jacobson go. He was great.

And am I the only one who finds the Nasty B*tch super attractive? Not to mention her skirts keep getting shorter and shorter.

Anonymous said...

Love the idea of Terzi suing them in a multi-episode arc! Hated the idea of her becoming a Fellow.

Anonymous said...

I love Anonymous comments endorsing other Anonymous comments. It screams Publicist at Work.

Anonymous said...

J: I was the 3:40 a.m. anon and I am no one's agent. Just don't need my name on the web and don't see the point to most of the pseudonyms

Anonymous said...

Tuck, you are not alone! Cutthroat has the legs ZZ Top crooned about. I find her both much more attractive and much more interesting than Cameron, 13, Terzi, etc.

Anonymous said...

The stunning brilliance of this episode is that the title refers to Michael Michele's character, NOT to the boy who needs plastic surgery.

The sad part is, I see no evidence that anyone has picked up on this fact, although I had to watch it twice to get the message ...