Tuesday, April 28, 2009

House, "House Divided": The case of the strawberry stripper

Quick spoilers for last night's "House" coming up just as soon as I set a corpse on fire...

Last week, I complained that the return of Amber just made me sad that the "House" writers made the wrong call on dumping her and keeping any of the other three. But in "House Divided," all I could do was enjoy how well Hugh Laurie and Anne Dudek play off each other. As Liz Friedman & Matthew V. Lewis's script made it clear early on that Amber wasn't a heavenly apparition, but just a weird manifestation of House's sleep-deprived brain, Dudek even got to have a blast more or less playing House. In a way, it reminded me of the short but glorious tenure of Scooter, the older not-quite-a-doctor who got cut for thinking too much like House; while House might not want someone like that on his team, it's fun to watch as a viewer.

While the rest of the cast seems to have already moved on from Kutner's suicide, I thought "House Divided" had a nice balance of comedy and drama, not only with Amber turning out to be a far crueler imaginary playmate than House expected, but in the way they intercut one of the better-drawn patients in a while with the shenanigans involving Chase's bachelor party, with Chase embracing it and Wilson trying to run from it (without his pants).

I've complained a lot lately about "House," but I enjoyed this one.

What did everybody else think?


Eldritch said...

I enjoyed the episode. It feels like they're building to some sort of crisis for House by season's end. That makes Kuttner's suicide more than just a one episode wonder.

And I liked the way they handled House's talking to his hallucination. So often, shows tend to be rather careless about their "real" characters talking to hallucinations/ghosts/holograms, etc. in public. None of the other characters ever seem to notice they're talking to thin air.

At least House had the good sense to keep his mouth shut in public, for the most part, until he could fake cell phone conversations.

(Maybe not the heart of the episode, but something that tends to jump out at me.)

Jordan said...

This was a good episode. "This is my apartment!" Made me laugh out loud. 13 was used well. House and Cuddy had some emotional weight. Plus everything Alan said.

I think it's about time they just go and dump the patient of the week format. Let House be House and fix however many patients you want, the procedural is the weakest part of the show.

olucy said...

Everything with Wilson was hilarious.

Enjoyed the ep a lot. The first time in QUITE awhile that I didn't immediately delete after watching.

Anonymous said...

House + Chase + Wilson + Amber makes an episode of gold. Those are the actors on this show with the "it" factor. Seeing Anne Dudek again only emphasizes what a huge mistake TPTB made in hiring Olivia Wilde instead of her. Seeing Chase used significantly again only emphasizes what a mistake TPTB have made in sidelining him. It's a shame that Amber can only be around as a hallucination, but let's hope they'll realize how much better Chase makes an episode and use him from now on.

Bruce Reid said...

"...Amber turning out to be a far crueler imaginary playmate than House expected..."

Just as Alan admits he'll forgive Chuck almost anything for its genuine warmth and sense of playfulness, I can never stop watching a show where the main character's heart-to-heart with his own conscience leads to attempted murder. The show's writers sometimes overrate their own fearlessness--passing off conventional wisdom slathered in brutal snark certainly doesn't count--but when they nail it you genuinely haven't seen anything quite like it before.

The patient's Deaf Culture dilemma was a bit more familiar, though the son's evident disgust at his girlfriend's voice was another example of House's preference, at its best, for unpleasant complexity over smoothing out all of its characters kinks.

Completely incidental: I'm not even sure exactly where cochlear implants are...implanted, but the patient ripping them out just seems like it'd be extremely painful, and had me wincing more than anything in the show's history.

jackie said...

I thought this was a fantastic payoff to the Kutner suicide decision. House is clearly building to a breakdown that has its roots in Amber's death, and gained steam from Wilson's almost defection, his dad's death and now Kutner's suicide. As mentioned above, the suicide was no one episode wonder. House has not moved on. I think you were a bit premature in your assessment of Kutner's suicide. Not only did it work really well as a realistic picture of how the survivors feel in that ep, it's driving House's descent now.

Also, in addition to having to join in on the "Anne Dudek rocks" (because she does), I have to say Foreman and Thirteen are hitting their stride. Their unconventional but apparently happy relationship is now fun to watch.

Karen said...

I enjoyed it immensely, with Wilson's "This is my apartment" and House's klutzy pyromania making me shout with laughter.

And House/Laurie dancing with a boom box was both cringe-worthy and delicious.

I wasn't convinced that the boy was disgusted with his girlfriend's so much as depressed that he would sound that way as well. He's a wrestler, he's competitive, he's deaf-prideful: he's not going to want to acknowledge something that seems flawed.

But the patient was far less interesting than the hi-jinks ("I'm going to have to be kidnapped"--such a perfect resolution, though it hardly fooled Cameron), and watching RSL do body shots off a standing stripper was TOTALLY worth the price of admission.

And, yes, Amber-House turned out to be creepy as hell--it's something for House to acknowledge being creeped out!--especially after having been so much fun.

Oaktown Girl said...

Damn, I missed the broadcast and was hoping to catch it online today. Unfortunately, Fox won't post it up until 8 days from the broadcast date, and Fox doesn't do On Demand.

Trying to avoid spoilers, I didn't read what you wrote Alan, but a quick first sentence scan of the comments looks positive. Guess I'll just have to wait until next week to see it though.

wjm said...

"I paid 50 bucks for this."

In a show known for its awesome one-liners, that was one of the best.

Archie Goodwin said...

First of all, I love beyond all words the scene in which Wilson tried to explain to Chase why letting House run the bachelor party was a bad idea by revealing that he eloped to avoid one followed shortly by him trying to illustrate the parties with the question, "Have you seen Caligula?" I seriously had to pause my DVR I was laughing so hard at that line, and I don't think that has ever happened to me before.

Second, I appreciate how they used the somewhat forgotten fact that Wilson has been married many times to make House's skill at bachelor parties work within the context of the show, whereas most shows have characters get obsessed with throwing crazy bachelor's parties just because they are convenient sources of drama and comedy.

Third, I love this episode, like the others that involve a look inside House's mind, because they engage the question of how hard it is to be a genius like those in the detective novels that inspired house. Last year I thought it couldn't be better than House admitting that he didn't want to keep going on in a world where, mostly because of his own antisocial actions, everyone including Wilson hated him, only to have his mind, also in the form of CTB, remind him of one of the series's recurring themes: "You can't always get what you want." But to have an episode show that House's genius allows him to remember the height of mountains that he read in a book years ago but also makes him unclear if he organized a situation to try and kill someone because only he could put together the random facts that would make that situation possibly may be even better.

ThreeSheets said...

Anon 11:34

That's what she said!

Anonymous said...

House is back on its A game. Well, maybe a strong B/B+ game. I felt House took a serious step backwards when the Cameron/Chase/Foreman exodus began. The only good episodes were House's Head/Wilson's Heart. The medicine was uninteresting, the team was fairly bland, and even House seemed less snarky than ususal. I was never a fan of the new team, and frankly Kutner drug the show down even further. He contributed nothing, so I was frankly relieved when he left the show.

I think its amazing that in two episodes since Kutner has been gone, both have been solid, the team seems to be more interesting, House is back to his extremely unconventional evil-genius self, and the medicine is finally interesting again.

KrisMrsBBradley said...

Holy Cow, they found a way to make 13 interesting!

Karen said...

Another Fox show, another opportunity for some girl-on-girl action. At least with Thirteen there's precedent in the show, but between this and Fringe last week, I get it, Fox - you do because you can.

Enjoyed the episode, though. Add my voice to the general joy at having Anne Dudek back.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed seeing Anne Dudek back in her manifestation of House's subconscious/Amber, but it strikes me that Shore is playing a very dangerous game reminding us yet again of what a stupid mistake it was not to hire Dudek as part of the team in preference to Olivia Wilde/13. And he's written 13 into a hole - the only time Wilde is remotely useful is to provide the obligatory "keep the male demo happy, girl -on-girl" action, since she's such an appallingly bad actress. I think we were spared any of Wilde's "oh, yes, I'm supposed to react now, better stop looking like a wooden board" scenes in this ep, but stick her in a ep with Dudek & she can't compete.

However, the medicine in this ep reached a new low, even for House. FYI, Alan, Deaf viewers are up in arms on a number of fan sites, particularly Fox, in outrage over the misrepresentation of how cochlear implants work & the repeated denigration on the show by not just House, but Foreman & others of deaf culture. Has Shore become so lazy he can't even be bothered to put the effort in to get the medicine right? The Ambien scrip Wilson wrote would have killed House.

Yes, House pisses off people every week, but it strikes me House has crossed the line where he's no longer the doctor we would want treating us - he's not only not getting it right, he's getting stuff seriously wrong. I suspect that House won't make 10 mill viewers for the season final based on how the ratings have been sliding recently.

Unknown said...

It was better than many House episodes of the past two seasons and yet not up to what the show was in its heyday.

It was great to have Amber back (and showed what a mistake the current team is), but it felt like a repeat of No Reason 3 years ago when House saw everyone as manifestations of his conscious. In a way, No Reason was better then because we along with House had to figure out what was happening. Here, it was all set out for us, funny lines but no real intellectual engagement required from the viewer.

It also demonstrated how the show has moved from a medical show to a soap opera/showcase for Hugh Laurie. And while Laurie usually puts in a very good performance, it limits the show to make it about House and his twice yearly breakdowns. There was a lot of scope for medical ethics, responsibility for choices (House took away the boy's right to choose as Stacy too his away) and what is fear of moving out of your handicap in this episode, something I used to watch this show for but they were never realy touched on. The bachelor party, the one-liners and Laurie juggling was enjoyable but the show has moved from comples drama into one-liners.

Thirteen was well used in terms of the joke value of her bisexuality but she remains a cardboard character; either she's the Huntington's terminal case or she's the bisexual. In contrast, Amber/Anne Dudek is a wonderful complex character and deliciously evil when she's in House's head.

dez said...

followed shortly by him trying to illustrate the parties with the question, "Have you seen Caligula?" I seriously had to pause my DVR I was laughing so hard at that line, and I don't think that has ever happened to me before.
I rewound that several times and laughed like a hyena each time. Pretty good ep all-around; I particularly liked the way the changed the colors and look of the scenes whenever Amber/House was around.

Shawn17 said...

Anne Dudek -- she loooked like she might've given birth recently. any chance she didn't stick with the show becausse she preferred to be with her child?

olucy said...

She had a baby in December, but I don't know how that factored in to her staying/leaving the show.

BoffleB said...

Loved this one a lot. The last five or six episodes have been excellent and the whole season has apparently been building to explore even more deeply what goes on in House's head and his heart. Fallout from last year's DBS procedure that may have damaged his brain, the bus accident, the motorcycle accident, guilt from Amber's and Kutner's deaths: any or all may have some play while House tries to diagnose himself yet again. This time the better angels of his nature have some seriously evil demons to fight in Anne Dudek's portrayal of Amber/House's id. Hugh Laurie just keeps raising the bar higher and higher. Still very, very excellent and compelling television.

Pamela Jaye said...

Better than Denny but

two dead lovers in the same season? is this a trend or just really bad timing.

I like Amber. I now hate Denny. Hopefully the House crew will not make me hate her - again - too.

at least House is under no illusions,
I think.

sadly, Showbiz tonight (or whatever) spent like 12 minutes on Is Jon Gosselin Sleeping Around last night.
Good news - at least J&K+8 isn't on at 9pm. I'd love to see what *that* would do to the ratings.

erin said...

This is the very first House episode I watched because of the Huddy kiss hype, and I didn't realize they weren't re-shown until 8 days later (interesting marketing, that). But I completely enjoyed it anyway, and was able to get right into it. I really enjoyed that Amber is the evil part of House's subconscious, and I'm sorry she'll eventually have to go (if she does in fact this week) because they're comedic timing was terrific. The stripper jokes were amusing, Anne Dudek was great, and I thought the patient was very interesting and sympathetic. I don't have time to be a regular watcher (what is up with the quality tv on Monday nights at 8pm??) but I can see why the show is as beloved as it is.