Monday, January 19, 2009

House, "Painless": Greg the plumber

Spoilers for tonight's "House" coming up just as soon as I take a placebo...

I watched "Painless" on the flight out to press tour, which feels like several lifetimes ago, but I remember not being that impressed by it at the time. I could attribute that to being on a plane, but A)I tend to throw myself into in-flight videos to help distract me from the usual irritations of air travel, where I probably pay less attention to the average episode of "House" watched at home; and B)On the flight home, I watched the upcoming HBO/Kevin Bacon movie "Taking Chance" and bawled my eyes out, so I'm not incapable of being moved under these conditions.

Nah, I just found the Patient of the Week pretty dull, suicide attempts and all. I would say that Foreman's discovery about Thirteen getting the placebo in the drug trial has the potential to be interesting, only I've been watching this storyline all year and don't really have faith in the creative team to make it exciting all of a sudden. And House's battle with contractors and his homeowner's policy might have been funnier if it had gotten a little more room to run.

Really, the only part that raised my interest levels at all was Cuddy offering to give Cameron her job while she spends more time with the baby -- not because it's necessarily the greatest story idea either, but because I want to see how the legions of Cameron fans (who, oddly enough, didn't seem to exist until after she quit the team at the end of season three) react to their heroine getting what would seem to be a more prominent role on the show. Chase is still off in surgery limbo, but they can't marginalize Cameron so long as House has to answer to her, can they?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...




Craig Ranapia said...

Wow, you really mean Cuddy has a reason to exist on this show other than being House's victim/enabler, between bouts of creepy sexual harassment?

Not quite the full spine implant I've been praying for, but better than nothing.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it takes, more Cameron, please.

Unknown said...

Foreman finding out that 13 is on the placebo doesn't make sense if the study is supposed to be a double-blind which I think it was. They shouldn't be able to tell if a patient is getting the drug or placebo.

Mo Ryan said...

Just when I think it can't get any more disappointing... ugghgh.

So, Cuddy, a woman who has been shown to be extremely capable and efficient, has a complete meltdown when she has a child and can't manage ANY aspect of her life, just like that.

I'm not saying being a new mom or a single mom is not hard. I just find it slightly hard to buy (irony there) that she would be so incapable, so instantly. Honestly, the implication is, the minute you bring a kid into your life, you lose the ability to do your job or be competent at pretty much anything.

Sheesh. That's in addition to the lazy plotting, boring supporing characters and general malaise we've seen all season. Color me about to give up.


Anonymous said...

"So, Cuddy, a woman who has been shown to be extremely capable and efficient"

Much as I like Cuddy I kind of have to disagree with that assessement. The instances where she's been able to control House are few and far between. Sure, we don't mind that he gets away with so much because he's the protagonist and he almost always ends up being right, but if she was actually good at her job he wouldn't get away with 99% of the things he does.

Anonymous said...

As someone who hasn't watched the show in a while I have to say that the prospect of Cameron doing Cuddy's job is intriguing. This is mostly because I can't really picture Cameron having the steel to pull it off (bending to House notwithstanding).
I suspect that's probably the idea.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if every season they have to put someone new in charge of what House does. In the end, it never really changes anything... and eventually, things go back to the status quo.

Patricia said...

Mo, I COMPLETELY agree with you. I actually kept pausing the DVR to make that same point to my husband. I was happy to see Cuddy have a baby (no matter how improbably) and I know there will and should be growing pains, but it was so irritating to see her losing it entirely in every aspect of her life.

This whole ep annoyed me, actually. I really hated the POTW and his whole family. The kid helping dad commit suicide? The wife giving up after *gasp* 4 whole days in the hospital? Annoying. I didn't like any of them.

And don't get me started on Foreman and Thirteen.

Anonymous said...


That pissed me off. Not that the writers went that route (because they're clearly going to have this be a big "Foreman has an ethical dilemma" storyline where he does or doesn't switch thirteen to the real meds and there's a "thing" and blah, blah, blah) but because they had Foreman find out like that. That woman should be fired and there should be three episodes about why she's fired and how Foreman's study partner fires her again after all of that. That irritated me badly.

As for Cuddy being an efficient and capable woman taken down by a baby, I agree with anonymous1138. Cuddy's awesome, but Cuddy's just as flawed as everyone else on the show. It's a wonder they've gotten anything done in that hospital since day one. Cuddy has her moments of triumph, but she gets cut down all the time. They all do. I don't really think it's surprising to see that the baby has overwhelmed her and even though I wish it was otherwise, Wilson was right in her case: she needs help and there's nothing wrong with that. Frankly, she's needed help all along. They tried giving her an assistant once and apparently that didn't take, but it's always been incredibly unrealistic, imo, that she didn't have a second to help her out in the hospital and with her House wrangling.

Anonymous said...

See, I'd seen Mo's comments earlier, but was surprised that the Cuddy issues didn't play nearly as badly as she seemed to take them. At least to me. It was more an issue of Cuddy's issues with trying to be Superwoman and failing to meet her own standards rather than being a complete flailing failure. This is a woman who's achieved high goals at a young age, and now being hit with a wall of reality and how she deals with that -- not fool who can't cope.

I actually found the episode quite entertaining. It raised a lot of issues -- from House's pain to feeling overwhelmed (whether that's Cuddy, or Taub's reference to a suicide attempt when he couldn't do anything or even Thirteen trying to learn to live her life despite Huntington's).

And in the real world, No. Cameron wouldn't take on any administration duties. But you'd prefer they add yet another cast member to be a temporary replacement for Cuddy? MOre cast bloat?

Mrglass said...

Meh. I have to disagree with Alan about House, week after week. This episode was good: the patient's story was actually interesting, Taub and Kumar had many funny exchanges (with an interesting revelation at the end), and the show went back to showing House in pain after one season when it was rarely mentioned.

Sure, the Foreteen stuff is not improving. Still, I don't get all the criticism; this is pretty much the same series it was in season 1.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Still, I don't get all the criticism; this is pretty much the same series it was in season 1.

And I'm a little bored with that at this point. My interest in the series was really flagging by the end of season three, and if it hadn't been for the candidate search and all the inherent comedy therein, I might have just let the show slide off my DVR. But now the show is basically back to being "House" -- albeit a more overcrowded "House," where a lot of emphasis is going to a character I find a drip -- and I'm bored again.

Mrglass said...

Ah well Alan, it happens: I stopped watching Law&Order around season 10. By the way, I don't think House will last that long. Between Foreman's new role as faux-House (though I don't understand why he is in the team, wasn't he there to supervise the candidates search?), probably to let Hugh Laurie get more vacation, and the erratic FOX schedule (3 different timeslots in one year), it doesn't seem like everyone involved has a lot of confidence in the future of the show.

So, enjoy it while you can! Still one of my favorite shows.

Unknown said...

I think the worst part for me here was that this episode had potential for a good patient of the week. House treating a guy with chronic pain? Hugh Laurie destroys these kind of episodes. While there were some good moments, I think it all got way too drowned out in 13/Foreman and Cuddy.

Anonymous said...

Alan, there's no reason to mock Cameron fans, the reason we weren't more vocal the first three seasons of House is because there was nothing significant enough to complain about. The fact that Cameron (and Chase) had a substantial role on House week after week was enough. Now those 20 second scenes she has per episode could be played by any other guest star and the storyline would still make sense. The same can be said for Chase, put any other man behind a green mask and let him operate on the patient, the writers of House have been pretty lazy for the last two seasons, I can't believe that House has 12 writers on staff and those scenes are their "brilliant" way to "integrate" Chase and Cameron into the show. Give them a storyline.

As for last night episode, it was a regular episode, the storylines felt disconnected, House was more worried about the pipes in his house than about the patient, but I would rather have House going solo than interacting with Cuddy in love, Thirteen in pain or Wilson matchmaker. House's scenes in last night's episode were a fresh change. Though I think that Cuddy is a shadow of her former self, I'm going to cut her some slack here. We don't even know when was the last time she had to take care of another human being other than herself, she's still adjusting her time between the baby and her job career, that doesn't make her incompetent but it takes time. The reason she asks Cameron to be in charge of the hospital for a while is because she knows than she's good with finantial reports and that she worries enough about House not to fire him. As Cameron says in next week's episode, her job mainly consists on babysitting House. Put a stranger in charge of the hospital and House would find himself in an unemployment queue soon. Thirteen is still getting too much screentime, I can't believe that she's the only character besides House to have a consistent storyline week after week, what else is there for this character? she has it all, nothing she does or says surprises me anymore, can we just move on to the next character already?

I'm actually expectant to see Cameron in next week episode if only because it's been six episode since we last saw Cameron being Cameron and not a cameo star.

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode a great deal and House still rocks for me. I think it was setting up the dilemmas for the next part of the season and they look great. I saw Mo's earlier Twitter about Cuddy and was pleasantly surprised to find the storyline was actually handled very well. Cuddy is simply trying to be Superwoman and taking some time to realise she needs to ask for help, not falling apart in some unbelievable fashion. I think the Thirteen story is finally intersecting with House's in a big way and I think the pay off will be worthwhile, since the issues are about how to go on when the future is increasingly bleak. That's the kind of story exploration I like on House, so I'm looking forward to more, especially since the balance among storylines last night was good. I love Kutner and Taub--Taub is a very multi-layered character, strong and flawed. And funny.

Cameron I could have lived without during the first three seasons and I can live without her now. I'm not looking forward to her teaching House lessons nor getting into some kind of rivalry with Thirteen that's not her business and undoes any growth she might have. Yuck. Cutting the character would go a long way in helping focus storylines. The sandwiching in is annoying. Chase I love and I hope that the glance he gave to House about his increasing pain is picked up later.

Sorry you're bored Alan, but it can't be fun and hijinx all the time.

Anonymous said...

Alan, there were lots of Cameron fans in the first three seasons. They were sitting back and enjoying the show and didn't feel the need to get vocal because she and Chase were still on the show and not replaced by boring, more boring, enthusiastic (Kutner) and sociopathic (Thirteen). The Cameron-haters have always been the disproportionately vocal ones although I have no idea why, especially now that she's barely on the show at all. Rather, many Cameron and Chase fans are among the 24% of the audience who stopped watching the show. That was a very bad miscalculation on Shore's part.

I fully expect Cameron to have only one episode and then slip back into the limbo she and Chase live in but I'll take what I can get from the show at this point.

I'm also glad to step back from the childish and increasingly unamusing House/Cuddy interactions that have been going on the past two seasons and give Cuddy something else to do because I'd like to start liking her again. Sure, trying to be Superwoman is stupid but it's less stupid than thinking House is ready for a relationship with her.

As for Cameron not being qualified (after running the ER for over a year), in the real world Cuddy wouldn't be able to keep her job given what we've seen of her performance over the past four seasons.

I am heartily sick of the whole Thirteen story and Foreman's entanglement in it just to give her yet more time and a romance. I never cared about Foreman, Thirteen is a thoroughly antipathetic character, and the more time the show spends on them, the less I'm interested in watching the show at all.

It's wrong for the nurse to say that Thirteen must be on the placebo but it's much more unethical for Foreman to be even working on the same study in which Thirteen is a patient much less be the one who is treating her. As far as the nurse is concerned, Thirteen is just another patient and not Foreman's SO.

Given the unrealistic leaps in this show, putting Cameron in charge of the hospital is practically sensible.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Jackie, but how would cutting Cameron's 30 seconds of screen time every other week help focus storylines? How about cutting Thirteen, which would give us an extra 20+ minutes per week to devote to characters that people actually like, such as Wilson, Chase, and Cameron? We'd have plenty of time for clinic patients as well.

Anonymous said...

This show will continue to lose viewers so long as they shove 13 down the viewers' throats and Chase and Cameron into the background. There's a reason they've lost so many viewers since the end of Season 3. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out either. I don't want to hear any crap about changing to an earlier hour because that hasn't hindered NCIS's viewership, has it? People are still watching TV. They're just not watching House in the numbers they used to. They need to get rid of 13 and bring Chase and Cameron back into focus. Or, at the very least, cut 13's screentime by 18 minutes an episode and balance it out among the supporting cast. (But I'm still rooting for the Huntington's.)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you concering Cameron. I find it very surprising that everyone is suddenly demanding her back. Classical case of absence making the heart grow fonder, I suppose.

Not for me, though. I just want Chase to feature more prominently.

Bix said...

There is no way that a chronic pain/headache patient wouldn't have been prescribed a number of anti-seizure drugs. It would've been one of the first things a specialist would have tried.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with those who want to see less of Thirteen. I don't know that I care about seeing more of Chase or Cameron - Cameron, with her House fixation, was almost as annoyingly uber-present in the latter part of S1 as Thirteen is now, and Chase was the most inconsistently-written of the three original Cottages - but if Morrison and Spencer are still full-time cast members, I think they should be used as such.

What I really miss are the clinic patients. Those scenes often provided the comic relief in contrast to the more dramatic POTW A-plots, and while I don't begrudge one second of screentime Robert Sean Leonard has earned fulfilling that role recently, the clinc was also a site of conflict between House and Cuddy that didn't just involve him "asking" her "permission" to do something insane and her caving immediately.

I agree with Drew that this week's episode was a missed opportunity to let Hugh Laurie do the voodoo that he does so well. I also think that Cuddy giving her job to Cameron is dumb, but Wilson had a point that Cuddy had been trying to do it all and needed to give herself a break, and despite what I said above, I'd rather see more of Cameron and Chase than add yet another cast member to play Cuddy's nanny/assistant/Girl Friday.

Anonymous said...

Dear me... what a bore (& waste of time) that episode was. About the most amusing thing was seeing just how screwed up David Shore's masturbatory fantasies about dying skinny white chicks are. Yet more of Cuddy's inexorable slide into utter incompetence - someone needs to tell Lisa Edelstein to at least try & put some effort into making it look like she's working with a baby & not a doll prop. On top of the sheer unbelievability of Foreman figuring out 13 is on the placebo in a double blind trial (the writers on this show have apparently fired their medical advisor, confirmed by the lack of decent medicine for the patient of the week), we've also got the double whammy of Omar Epps & Olivia Wilde demonstrating yet again just how bad actors they are with the complete lack of chemistry between their two characters.

Anonymous said...

I wish they'd put Chase and Cameron in their own spin-off so it could be quickly canceled.

Unknown said...

Ugh. Just Ugh.

First off, I hate Foreman and 13 together. No chemistry what-so-ever. I also hate that he set her up to see his successful patient to get in her pants, lied about it when she figured it out and she actually fell for it.

Is Foreman really that desperate to get with 13? Is 13 really that stupid? Yes, apparently so.

I also hate how they are playing Cuddy as so stupid and incompetent. Does anyone really think that Cuddy got where she is today without being able to pass the buck on work sometimes? She's been planning to have a baby for quite some time now. Did she really not consider "Oh, gosh, what if my nanny gets sick?" and have a backup plan (or three)?

How about a hospital day care for employees... you would think Cuddy would have come up with funding for that one the first day she had the thought about becoming pregnant.

They are playing her like she's a bumbling idiot first time parent, and I just hate that. Yes, she's a new parent, and she's going to have her issues, but she's also an uber smart professional with a ton of money. Let's see her act like it.

Oh, and let's not forget that they had a young kid help his father attempt suicide! Good grief. Just ridiculous! Why was that kid even at the hospital? Get a sitter, nitwit! I'm surprised no one turned that man in to DYFS for emotional abuse after that one.

Anonymous said...

I might be able to believe that David Shore isn't aware of the fan's response to Thirteen. Maybe, if he hadn't said "Huddy" sex is coming and referred to Foreteen, both terms used by the iternet fandom.

"I want to see how the legions of Cameron fans (who, oddly enough, didn't seem to exist until after she quit the team at the end of season three) react to their heroine getting what would seem to be a more prominent role on the show."

Most Cameron fans are expecting a hatchet job on her in order to make Cuddy look good. They are bracing themselves to expect the worst, not exactly the way you want your audience to react to your show.

Cameron's fans have always been around. I think there's two reasons you didn't notice them before. First, those who I know of from the real world (as opposed to the internet world) are often either men, who rarely post on internet boards, or older women, who don't have time spend posting about TV shows while trying to balance work, family and life. I noticed at my daughter's high school, back when House was watercooler buzz, that the senior girls admired Cuddy and disliked Cameron for being too much like they themselves are, while the teachers and mothers thought Cuddy was ridiculous in her clothes and inability to control House and liked Cameron for her struggles to become a good doctor. Internet posters are a non-representative group. I also know of two House/Cuddy fanfic writers who have moved to writing blogs and reviews, one of whom is linked from the show's official board, giving the impression that 'unbiased' reviewers don't like Cameron.

The second reason is that the internet community gives Cameron a very hard time, as it does other flawed realistic female characters such as Abby on ER, Lynette on Desperate Housewives, Kate on Lost and even Sam on Stargate SG1. The moderators of the largest boards, TWoP and the Fox House board, have both openly said that they like Cuddy and don't like Cameron. (The anti-Cameron bias of the TWoP recapper was one of the reasons I stopped reading the recaps.) As a result, the environment on those boards tends to be anti-Cameron. If you're a Cameron fan, it's not much fun to go there and see people get nasty about Cameron, especially when they twist what's on the show to do it. In addition, Cameron's fans tend to be like Cameron herself, wanting to be nice rather spend their time in conflict.

There always were Cameron fans, they just stayed in their own communities.