Wednesday, October 15, 2008

House, "Birthmarks": I am your father, Greg

Spoilers for last night's "House" coming up just as soon as I fish out my keys...

I have an early deadline for tomorrow's column, so I'll be brief.

While I've enjoyed House's bonding with Lucas the private eye (who still has one more episode to go), ain't nothing like the real thing: an hour of House and Wilson thrown together, with Wilson forced to confront the reasons for his friendship with House, House forced to confront his feelings about his dad (just a little, anyway), and a lot of comedy along the way. Wilson busting out a spare crank-powered flashlight was especially priceless, as was Wilson realizing that House's tears were fake and just an excuse to get a DNA sample.

And good on the writers for letting House be right about his dad not being his bio-dad. The more obvious, easier route would have been for him to discover that his suspicions were wrong all these years. I'm disappointed we didn't get to see Hugh Laurie and R. Lee Ermey work together one last time (I wonder how much Ermey got paid to lie in that coffin?), but the entire funeral storyline was strong enough that I didn't even mind how the patient of the week was once again a "Grey's Anatomy"-style sledgehammer parallel to the life of one of the docs.

(I remember the show doing these kinds of parallels on occasion with the old team, but this season it feels like every week -- and this week, it was a twofer, with both House and Kutner having lots in common with needle-brain girl.)

Finally, boo to Fox for once again letting one of their shows run past the hour without making that clear in their DVR info. If I hadn't also recorded "Fringe" (which I won't get to until late today at the earliest), I would have missed most of the final scene. I understand network motivations for running a hit past the hour -- it maybe keeps people from changing the channel to watch another show, and it creates the appearance that the show after it did better in the ratings (since those extra minutes of "House" temporarily count as part of the "Fringe" average) -- but doing it without telling anyone in advance just ticks off the audience.

What did everybody else think?


kat said...

I thought it was easily the best episode since season 3.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more about the timing thing. My Tivo cut off right at the end, so I missed it. Booooo.

Mac said...

I was going to ask why, if Wilson had a warrant out for his arrest, that Tritter didn't use that, but then I remembered that I'm pretending that Tritter never happened.

princessapr said...

We personally talk about seeing the characters grow, but in this show, we like them the same. However, I think this episode allowed the characters personal insight without changing them. The relationship between House and Wilson always seemed one where both needed the other. In this episode, the characters actually saw this as well, and I enjoyed that. My interest in House has been slipping, but this was an episode I enjoyed more than any in recent memory.

Anonymous said...

I loved last night's ep and rewound several scenes between House and Wilson. I loved House grabbing the DNA sample surreptitiously (but not so much that Wilson didn't pick up what was going on). One of the best eps in recent memory.

If I hadn't also recorded "Fringe" (which I won't get to until late today at the earliest), I would have missed most of the final scene.

I padded my recording by one minute, but this one ran two minutes past. Luckily, I was home in time to start watching it just past the hour and I had the cable set to the right channel anyway, so I just rewound the "live" TV and saw the whole final scene. It's way friggin' annoying and makes me want to skip "Fringe" in protest.

Anonymous said...

could someone who actually saw all of the last scene post a brief description? My Tivo cut off as Wilson was saying "apparently you don't get to choose your friends either". It went on for two minutes after that? Boo on Fox.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"I'm pretending that Tritter never happened."

I'm pretending that judge from the Simpsons appeared at the end of the last Tritter episode and announced that Tritter would never be spoken of again, and that he died attempting to return to his home planet.

AndyW said...

I wasn't such a fan of this one. The House-Wilson reconcilliation was awfully pat, as was the denoument of the case-of-the-week (her addiction was caused by the needle pressing on her addiction center? Puh-lease).

If the plots had been kept parrallel but seperate, it might have been better. Didn't the cottages used to solve one on their own occasionally?

Anonymous said...

Alan, AMEN! on the DVR comment. I don't record Fringe, so I got cut off for the entire final scene. Care to sum up? Two of them talking in the office and ...? Liked the episode though. The flashlight bit was great and I loved hearing how they met.

jcpdiesel21 said...

I'm with andyw; I didn't like this episode as much as everyone else. The bigger an ass House becomes, the more I start to dislike the show, and he was acting like a huge ass to Wilson, who was only trying to help. I was kind of hoping that Wilson would punch House for a while there.

I did like finding out the circumstances of how Wilson and House met, but I agree that their reconciliation was way too pat. It would be nice if someone could take House down a peg every once in a while.

Anonymous said...

Yes, add me to the "what happened after the can't choose your friends comment"? My DVR cut off too, just like it did during the scene where Wilson left his office. Damn you Fox! Damn you! I'm now setting my DVR for an extra few minutes (3).

Anonymous said...

Also, what's House's ringtone for Wilson? I forget. Is it the Billy Joel song he lobbed a beer bottle at a mirror to in protest? And if so, does it have any ties to his first wife?

Anonymous said...

I can't recall the ringtone for Wilson, but House using "MMMBop" for the cottages totally cracked me up.

Hatfield said...

House told him it was "Dancing Queen" by ABBA.

I too liked the writers' choices, in particular not wussing out and making House suddenly care about his father. His eulogy was perfect, and his segue that worked as both fake-out to get some DNA and as pseudo-compromise to satisfy his mom (who knows him well enough by now to be thankful he was only kinda mean) was also great. Shame they can't use Ermey anymore though.

As great as it was to have a Wilson-heavy episode, I found myself missing Lucas. I don't think I'd watch a show of just him, but it's been fun to see him interact with House and Cuddy.

Oh yeah, and good to see our old friends Cameron and Chase actually involved. This may have been the first episode that balanced everybody pretty well.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I found myself missing Lucas. I don't think I'd watch a show of just him

Ausiello says the spin-off is dead. If so, maybe David Shore'll bring him back to House a few more times -- preferably after he's trimmed the supporting cast a bit.

Anonymous said...


It's funny that you mention that House had an obvious parallel between the patient's problem and one of the doctors and specifically reference the last episode of Grey's Anatomy.

The patient was played by the same actress, Samantha Quan

evie said...

I missed the last minute or two because of that stupid and idiotic bleed into the unwatchable Fringe. If I cared more, I'd be pissed. As it was, I was unmoved.

Anonymous said...

Okay, better. I was ready to give up on this show, but I was entertained last night.

I discovered I don't like the P.I. after all. I didn't miss him to the extent that I had actually forgotten about him until I read Alan's review. Now, I dread his single episode return.

I thought it was funny that Foreman ran differentials with the old team.

Anonymous said...

I liked the differantals with the old team...I miss them. Well for all of you who had the DVR cut off the final scene (I didnt notice I watched it live and I also watch Fringe so...) I personly dont really remember it because the comercial for next week totaly made me I dont know like freak....6 days is to long to wait.

Anonymous said...

I too thought it was funny that Foreman left the B team and did a differential with the A team, and they both got the same conclusion. I liked the ep. House was mostly bitter, but kinda sweet in how he missed Wilson, even as he was mean to him. Loved that Cuddy drugged House. When Wilson says, "What are you, five?" I thought, yeah, House is acting like my 5yo when he's being oppositional. So, yeah, he was acting like he was 5.

Bruce Reid said...

Chris Littmann, Anonymous, and even CMS:

Wilson says he's staying at the hospital, House breaks off his own snark mid-sentence with "if you're coming back because you're attracted to the shine of my neediness...I'd be ok with that." Wilson admits he's returning because House was right, the trip was the most fun he's had since Amber died.

They head out for dinner, then pause at the door for a touchingly underplayed exchange:



"My dad's dead."

"Yeah. You have my sympathies."

An almost perfect episode, whose emotional complexities were marred by (as Alan said) too on-the-nose parallelism with the patient--an increasing problem with the show--and the revelation that the needles in her brain were causing her alcoholism, allowing an easy out for her condition.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Bruce! Not knowing was driving me crazy -- who has the patience to wait for the episode to show up on Hulu?

Oaktown Girl said...

Bruce Reid - thanks for filling us in on the final lines!

I agree that the ending with House and Wilson was too "pat", and I'll take a pass on medical cases lining up so neatly with the doctors' lives.

As I was watching this episode I could feeling myself wondering if House had become such a unlikable character that watching the show was no longer worth my time. The jury's still out.

Having already been a big Hugh Laurie fan from his comedy work in Blackadder, I was diehard for this show from the beginning. House was asshole, but an interesting and fairly likable asshole. Now he seems mostly just an asshole and not very interesting at all. I absolutely loath the Taub character, and Foreman's role, which should be much stronger, just kind of flounders. Even though I like Kal Penn, I miss the immediacy and tautness of the "old team".

kat said...

Ausiello says the spin-off is dead. If so, maybe David Shore'll bring him back to House a few more times -- preferably after he's trimmed the supporting cast a bit.

Alan, do you have some insider skinny that there will actually be some cast trimming? Or is this just wishful projection on your part? (I'm hoping the former, but I fear the worst.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wishful thinking.

Pamela Jaye said...

I didn't even mind how the patient of the week was once again a "Grey's Anatomy"-style sledgehammer parallel to the life of one of the docs.

Alan, she was The Very Same Sledgehammer.
She was Meredith's patient last week. The one who had cancer? (i saw her name in the credits. she was the one who wasn't Sam Seaborn's secretary)
(so, funny you should say that. and now I'll go read the rest of your post if there is any more)

Pamela Jaye said...

okay, I didn't stop to see if someone had already said so.

the bleedover was annoying, as I already have an extra minute padded on the end, and I *just* got the last line of dialog out of that.
Monday, I had to wiggle around the overlap of HIMYM - which often seems to start early - and the end of Big Bang, in order to be able to use all my tuner card and get another 8 to 9 show.
Miscalculation - this week they were on time, and now i have the end of Big Bang on my HIMYM. (and peanut butter on my chocolate)

I don't love the new PI, and I adore Wilson (and loved hearing how they met) so I did love the episode.

Is there an addiction center in the brain?

Nice to see Chase and Cameron and hear Chase's thoughts on his dad's death.
I'd say I felt pretty much the same myself. Thankfully there was no eulogy to be given for my father (never called him Dad) as my parents never believed in funerals. So I didn't have to do it. In fact, I was informed I didn't even have to fly down. (My mother probably wouldn't have wanted to be distracted from cleaning out the garage, and I, being unemployed at the time, had a temp job starting two days later. If only I could get one now...)

So from what I hear, my mum and brother kissed him, and the hospice worker came and they put him into a vehicle and drove him away. I got a call when I got home from being out with friends. It was a Friday night (my parents had a thing for Friday nights, three weeks before their 73rd birthdays)

How is it that Chase can be a surgeon with hair like that? Never mind - there are female surgeons with longer hair. As noted, it was nice to see them. I also enjoyed the second wind-up flashlight. Wilson is officially twice as over-prepared and over-cautious as me!

Can I just say again how much I love Wilson?
And it took me a while to figure out that Cuddy had drugged out. I thought he was hallucinating the car ride with Wilson. We all know this show is not above that.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

At least I'm not the only one who thought it might be a hallucination, even though since we were cutting back to the hospital I didn't see how that could work. But the transition to the car was pretty jarring.

It was a really good episode and considering I watch the show mostly for Cuddy, that's saying something.

neglectarino said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

thanks for posting the end. We watched it last night instead of the debate, and missed the ending too.

If you think Grey's started the patient parallels, you are forgetting many of the 11 years of ER! You have to take a side on the "Anvilicious or Good Foreshadowing" debate.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

Hubby and I had to pause the show (thank you tivo!) to laugh hysterically when we realized that Cuddy had drugged house. Then when Wilson pulled out the second crank light! Bwah!

Best episode in some time. I didn't even care about the patient and her stupid pins - I was thrilled to have Wilson back with House.

Pamela Jaye said...

where have I seen the sheriff before?

Is itpossible to not mention the teasers, or would that be asking too much. I've started to make a practice of not watching them - when the DVR doesn't cut them off by itself.
Helps keep things shiny and new :-)

Only exception was just before premiere weeks - I was having such bad Grey's withdrawal that i *had to* watch some promos.

Pamela Jaye said...

only 32 comments? for House??
must be the vote splitting.

and it's true. though the first time thru I didn't notice, aafter a season and a half of Grey's I noticed, in ER, the patient/main character metaphors. there was in particular with Benton. I forget totally what it was about, but I can visualize his jaw muscle...

last week on Grey's i noticed the "eye acting" of people during surgery. didn't really take me out of the story, but it *was* a passing thought.

I miss - already0 David E Kelley ho could take you out of a story with 4th-wall breakage and then throw you right back in.

Anonymous said...

Here is a link about brain addiction center.

Anonymous said...

I didn't even care about the patient and her stupid pins - I was thrilled to have Wilson back with House.

Same here. For me, the interaction between Wilson and House overshadowed the hamfisted parallels between their story and the patient's. Admittedly, I did think the pin-on-the-addiction-center reveal was kind of cool, though. But I was mostly focused on Wilson and House and their reconciliation (which I didn't find as pat as others, given that a lot of time had passed since Amber's death).

Unknown said...

This is possibly the best episode since season 3. It's Old School House, not the facile imitation they've been trying to pawn off on us since season 4. Lots of great House/Wilson, lost of exploring real feelings and connections, lots of truly intelligent lines.

Alan, I have to disagree that the easier route would be to have his suspicions wrong. This is the easier route - House hates his dad? Oh, look, he's not really his dad, problem solved. I think complex would have been House disowning John as not his father and now realizing they are related and having to deal with that.

Thank you writers for bringing the A team back and showing us Cameron and Chase again. Kutner got the gallstones diagnosis and he's fun, he can stay but I wouldn't mind Thirteen and Taub leaving soon.

Girl Detective, House acts like he's 5 years old because Cuddy, Wilson and Blythe treat him like he's 5 years old. It's one of the things I don't like about the show. A 49 year old man should have the right to decide whether he wants to go to his father's funeral and his decision should be respected.

From the promo, it looks like next week they're back to using sex to sell the show to the 18 - 34 demographic. Well it was nice while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the less there is of the new team, the better an episode is. Having Chase, Cameron, and Foreman together again was like a breath of fresh air or like coming home. It really made me long for the good old days when every episode of House was excellent. House and Wilson were fantastic on their road trip. They made me laugh and nearly cry. I really wish they'd get rid of 13 and Taub. They seriously drag down the quality of every scene they're in. 13 is reason enough to invest in Tivo to fast forward through her horribly acted Mary Sue of a character.

Anonymous said...

I am in love with House and Wilson!! They are so awesome and funny together. I've been rewatching the H/W scenes over and over again. Absolutely the best episode EVAR!!! Truly a classic. And I ;ove the way House and Wilson met. So random and yet just perfect.

And a big thankl you for pointing out Fox's manipulation with the timing. I was watching and TiV'ng Fringe but no more. What a low down dirty thing to do. I missed part of the final H/W scene in Dying Everything because of that. FOX you need to clean up your act!!!

Anonymous said...

Neglectarino: Can we lay off the descriptions of next week's episode? The people who assemble the promos aren't the writers, and I'd rather see it the way the writers intended it, thanks. . .

Alan Sepinwall said...

Neglectarino: Can we lay off the descriptions of next week's episode?

I feel like I'm going to have to start putting the rule at the end of every single post: No talking about the previews for the next episode.

Pamela Jaye said...

thank you for the restatement of the rule on previews..
I have stopped watching them altogether.
I like my episodes totally shiny and new.

Anonymous said...

See how far behind I am :)

This was awesome. I'm beginning to think the only reason I dislike 13 is because they put SO much into her and she's just not a likable person- and she's getting at least one more major focus episode so I hear.

Despite Cameron's make-up making HER look like the strung out junkie, the few scenes with them doing differential was swoon-worthy. Especially when the "new team" figured it out based on the broken metaphor.

I think having the father not be the father is very key to knowing House- his entire family life was based on a lie and the time he tried to bring it to light he was completely shunned. He was powerless doing what the world told him was the right thing to do.

And yes- we don't do Fringe and got cut out at the end, BOOO!!!

Anonymous said...

Wilson's dumping House never made sense to me. House had just damned near killed himself twice trying to save Amber's life, the second time doing something ridiculously dangerous because Wilson demanded it of him, and Wilson chooses that moment to decide that that he can't put up with him anymore? The explanation this episode gives does make sense.

And Houses's father knowing (or sensing) that House wasn't his son explains a lot about why he abused him.

Oh,and Cameron as a brunette was one of the most beautiful women on TV. What in the world did she dye her hair for?