Tuesday, September 29, 2009

House, "Epic Fail": First-person cooker

Spoilers for last night's "House" coming up just as soon as I break my own toilet...
"I'm fine. Just not happy." -House
I was bracing for a let-down after the wonderful season premiere, and much of "Epic Fail" - specifically, anything to do with Foreman, Thirteen and the Patient of the Week - lived down to expectations. As I wrote in my "Broken" review, seeing House in a different context made me realize how unnecessary the hospital, the cases and, especially, the sidekicks (Wilson and possibly Cuddy excepted) had become. So a storyline where all of that existed largely apart from House was particularly dull. There came a point where I pretty much stopped paying attention to the case, except to wonder which was more incompetent: security at a software company where two random doctors could break in to play their still in-development game, or the entirety of PPTH that would let a patient suffer a delusional episode in the middle of the lobby without anybody but Foreman and Thirteen doing something about it.

That said, it was a pleasant surprise to have Andre Braugher still around as Dr. Nolan, as I had assumed his guest stint was one-and-done. (Braugher has a TNT show coming up later this season.) Also pleasantly surprising: that for at least one post-"Broken" episode, the writers were trying to do more than pay lip service to House's efforts to get better. We saw with the dog urine gag that he can still be the House we know and are amused by, but he seemed actually happy for a few minutes during the cooking class, and he sincerely dismissed Cuddy's concerns about narcissism. Given how quickly the show has tired of previous cures like the Ketamine, I still suspect House will be back to being a misanthropic bastard by mid-season. But at the moment, you can tell that Hugh Laurie is really engaged by the challenge of playing some different notes as this character - of playing a House who's tired of being quite so miserable. I don't have high expectations for his return to the hospital, but at least seeing the fellows adjust to a slightly kinder and gentler boss will be amusing for an episode or two.

After that? Well, maybe I can hold out hope that House gives the cooking thing another try. I would totally be into a show where he gives up medicine altogether and becomes the next Anthony Bourdain.

What did everybody else think?


Kensington said...

I'm just wondering if Thirteen and Taub are really quitting/being fired. With regard to either one of them it's fine with me.

KatieMB said...

Completely agree that the show is only as good as Hugh Laurie. The formula (Patient of the Week, the fellows, Cuddy/Wilson) has gotten tired and predictable but House himself is rarely either of those. House was and continues to be why I watch the show. I don't care who he interacts with, and wouldn't mind seeing more of House interacting with people we know very little about (as in new patients, clinic patients, the psychiatrist). His interactions with Wilson and Cuddy, while usually humorous, biting and watchable, bore me, especially their tired and predictable reactions to him.

All that being said - last night's episode was still better TV than so much else on TV.

kate said...

I agree. I pretty much half hazardly watched through all the Foreman 13 scenes because I really couldn't care less about either of them, and the new season (rehashing Foreman's complex on House or lame hot bisexual chick jokes are about the dullest things they could do, and no, seeing Foreman half naked does not help) hasn't changed that. I feel like Taub, who wanted House but got Foreman and Thirteen instead. I'm thisclose to quitting like Taub did.

If it weren't for House himself. The House portions are still good because of the acting, and Braugher was a nice treat, as well as Wilson and Cuddy who were fine.
As for the story, I felt it was a bit of a cheat.

I'm not going to talk about either Cameron or Chase until they get actual real screen time.

So, I think for the future, I'm watching House only if there is a fast foward button. I'm sure there are fans of Foreman and/or 13, and kudos to you guys, but I'm not one of them.

annie said...

My recently watched shows (most recent to least):

3) House 6x02
2) NCIS:LA 1x01
1) Jeeves and Wooster 3x05

Seeing Hugh Laurie in such vastly different roles in close proximity is crazy.

I'm loving the beginning of the new season

CEK said...

"misogynist bastard" or "misthanthropic bastard"?

Alan Sepinwall said...

The latter. This is why I shouldn't write reviews in the middle of the night. Thanks.

Hope said...

I agree with this analysis completely. I was utterly bored by everything that House wasn't directly involved in. This episode solidified finally that the only four reasons I've been watching this show for the last two seasons are House, Wilson, Hugh Laurie, and Robert Sean Leonard.

Karen said...

This show has teased us with Taub's departure before--if they don't actually follow through this time then they will have completely lost me as their suspense monkey. They'd really better mean it this time.

Here's what bugged me about the PotW diagnosis--OK, it's Fabry's Disease. Fine. But they never even bothered to say how Fabry's Disease caused his initial symptom of burning hands, or whether it's something he was born with that got triggered vs something he contracted (and how). Which says to me that the writers were as bored with the PotW story as the rest of us were.

I think House as chef is less Anthony Bourdain and more Alton Brown--that whole vinegar/meatball thing was pure chemistry.

It was a pretty average episode, but given how bad I expected it to be, it wasn't that bad. Does that make sense?

lois@loisbernardlcsw.com said...

pretty much agree with all comments including the part about foreman/13 naked, taub leaving, and the show being only as good as Hugh Laurie. Braughter I have missed since homicide and would love if he stayed somehow. Episode was messy IMHO.

Karen said...

The parts that annoyed me most (not the same thing as boring me the most, which were other parts), out of a bunch of annoying things, were the two random doctors who wandered into the hospital and started working on the Patient of the Week, and the POTW wandering around hallucinating in the lobby, as someone else mentioned, and no one reacting or doing anything about it.

Laughed a few times at things House said. Hoped Taub really is quitting. Was really excited that House didn't swoop in and save the day with the patient... until it turned out he had. And really, someone needs to feed Lisa Edelstein.

Otherwise... the show is still on our personal bubble.

Kathy said...

I've always been puzzled by the fact that these doctors have been declared brilliant diagnosticians when in reality they flail about each week nearly killing the designated patient before they come up with an acceptable cure at the end. I would have been just as happy if they had House turn his back on medicine and had him creating crosswords for Sunday papers or solving crime cases...Hugh Laurie is the magic in this show. Foreman is boring and 13 is just not believable in the role of a doctor. No wonder that House was angry all the time. It was having to deal with these people that drove him to drugs as much as the physical pain he had to endure. Please let House stay clean and sober and give him some new ways to use his brilliant mind!

Anonymous said...

I'm relatively spoiler free, so I have no idea if Taub is gone or not, but I'm not sure why the assumption (or desire) would be for him to hit the road. Aside from personally liking Taub (he was always my favorite of the three, even if Kal Penn was my favorite actor) it seemed clear that if House came back, he would as well. He quit Foreman, not House. He could be out on his ass next week, but I suspect that's not what's going to happen.

Couldn't care less about Foreman/thirteen, especially when Foreman's turning the assiness up as high as he was last night, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Taub/thirteen interactions. When they're just quietly working and snarking back and forth, they're quite pleasant.

Had it not been for all the House/Wilson, House/Pembleton goodness, it would have been an average episode, but I thought they balanced the case against House at home against House in therapy really nicely. I still want to go back to Mayfield, but not as badly as I thought I would.

Asta said...

I totally agree with your review. The episode reinforced to me that House is Hugh Laurie and without him there is nothing to hold one's interest. Hugh is worth every penny they are paying him.

The Foreteen stuff bored me. I loved Taub quitting. He came there to work with House, not to play relationship counselor to Thirteen and Foreman, but I am assuming he'll return once House is back in charge.

As soon as the patient announced he was offering $25,000 to the person who successfully diagnosed him, I knew who would be getting the check. We know how much time House spends on the internet, there is no way he was going to miss that opportunity. I did assume he would be walking into the hospital to collect his check and rub it in Foreman's face, but I guess his remaining in the background was another sign of a kinder, gentler (for the moment) House.

srpad said...

I only wanted to add how ridiculous that game seemed to be between the way it looked (my PC would have probably exploded trying to render those graphics) and the equipment it required.

dez said...

I think House as chef is less Anthony Bourdain and more Alton Brown--that whole vinegar/meatball thing was pure chemistry.

If his leg hurts enough, House would go full-blown Gordon Ramsay on everyone, I'm thinking.

I'm with amysa re: Taub, and even the interaction between 13 and Taub, but if 13 is really gone, I'll be very, very happy.

Loved it when House's cooking buddy called out Cuddy's mode of dress, albeit in Chinese.

Henry said...

Here's what drives me crazy: It's the fact that the House writers keep using the Reset Button Plot to do anything and everything on this show. There's the promise to change the status quo a little bit in the show, but I guess they're just tired of everything and wants to bring the old team back together as soon as possible. It's why -- for a brief second -- I didn't really believe Taub's statement that he was going to quit. Quitting at PPTH seems to not be permanent.

I still continue to be amused by House's antics and one-liners (especially how he solved the case by himself), and I think that's the only thing that keeps me coming back to the show now. Last week's episode got mixed reviews from fans of the show (at least from what I've read), but I liked it simply because it isolated House. Proved he didn't need the rest of them (despite what this episode affirms). The return to the usual format just furthers the thought that the Patient of the Week format is weak.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Also, besides the House storyline, this is everything that was wrong with last season. Way too much Thirteen and Foreman, and they again threaten us with team members quitting or being fired, and then NEVER FOLLOWING THROUGH. Seriously, how many times last season did someone quit or be fired, only to be rehired or come back by the end of the episode. At least 4 that I can think of off the top of my head.

Lisa said...

I'm pretty much at the point where watching Hugh Laurie cook meatballs is much more interesting than anything else or anyone else on the show, so I'm hoping that this really is "House's" final season. Give Hugh his Emmy and let him go home to his family, for Pete's sake.

JanieJones said...

I completely agree that Hugh Laurie is House. I was happily surprised to see Andre Braugher in the beginning credits.

The POTW story was very boring. It was completely irrational that Thirteen and Foreman would be the only two to help him while he was hallucinating as all of those people stood around and watched in a hospital.

I like when House interacts with the patient. I'm holding on to the thought of House being a bit more kind but still cantankerous when he begins practicing again.

I do have to say that I do enjoy Robert Sean Leonard as Wilson. I know their relationship has gotten predictable at times but he has excellent chemistry with HL.

I hope that we do not have a continuation of firings, re-hiring, etc.
Bright spots were House cooking, interaction with Leonard/Braugher, his struggle with leg pain, urine incident and solving the case, even if none of the team knew.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't kill me to see it end this season and it would be awesome to see him finally win the Emmy, but he's not a political prisoner.

@dez: loved House's cooking partner and her snark. I also liked that most House's own snark didn't have an edge to it. He was biting and funny and doing the whole House thing, but post-rehab the cruel edge that was getting so tiresome last year was gone. Hugh played that really well. Borderline happy House is just as funny as disgruntled clinic duty House and way less tedious than most of last season House.

Ariadne said...

For the fourth time in four seasons, Foreman tries to be House and fails.

Does the same plot 4 times mean that the show is creatively dead? It certainly means that I'm not engaged any more.

I don't know if it's that Foreman and Thirteen are too boring / have been overused or that the writers have forgotten to write. Liz Friedman, who wrote this episode along with Sara Hess, has produced some of the best episodes of House such as the post-Super Bowl South Pole Icebound. This one fell short.

I think much of the problem with House these days is that the writers are counting on spectacular episodes and Hugh Laurie's acting to carry the load and neat video tricks to hook the teenage viewers and forgetting about good solid writing for the storylines and other characters.

If anyone believes that either Thirteen or Taub are really gone now, I have some land in Florida you might be interested in. More overused devices.

Cameron and Chase are badly needed back and yet again wasted completely in this episode.

At this point, it's really Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard + good guest actors like Andre Braugher that are the reasons to watch House. That's not good enough from a show that has been so much more.

In terms of what House MD once was, this episode was if not epic fail, certainly 'fail'.

belinda said...

I wonder if the writers thought they were being clever and coy with the episode title and then it turns out, hey, pretty fitting.

dez said...

I think my favorite awful thing last night was Foreman firing 13 to save their relationship. Not like he could sacrifice of himself there. What a jerk--and I don't even like 13!

jackie said...

I liked the episode. I thought Thirteen and Taub were a hoot and I hope (and believe) neither is gone. Foreman has never been a fave of mine, but I've put up with him for five going on six years, so I can handle his storylines. He's clearly going to be a major player in House's bid to take back his department and this episode set up the dynamics for what will play out this half season. I felt for Thirteen.

I love that House is genuinely struggling to work out how to live his real life according to the realisations he made at Mayfield and of course he won't find it easy. I think the theme of this season will be House struggling to to define himself. I'm up for it.

Eyeball Wit said...

Andre Braugher with Ray Romano on TNT?
You ruined my day with that bit of news, Alan. I can't imagine a more tragic waste of talent.

Ariadne said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No talking about the previews, folks, even vaguely. It's in the commenting rules.

olucy said...

I think my favorite awful thing last night was Foreman firing 13 to save their relationship. Not like he could sacrifice of himself there. What a jerk--and I don't even like 13!

Seriously. I don't like her either, but at that moment I wanted her to say "Wait, those are my options? In that case, I *am* breaking up with you."

Hatfield said...

I think I learned a while ago how to be bored by the POTW/supporting character stuff and not feel like it takes away from the show. Kinda sad, I know, considering how strong the show as a whole used to be, but Hugh Laurie's too good for me to ever consider not watching, so I've had to adapt.

That said, I enjoyed one of the jerkier patients ever, and the almost meta quitting of Taub. Sure, he's almost certainly not gone, but wouldn't it be great if that was Shore & company's way of acknowledging our pain? I don't think I have anything to add to the praise of the House stuff, but I loved the dog urine and cooking stuff. Hmm, those sound bad together...

filmcricket said...

If I were 13, I'd be introducing Foreman to my labour lawyer right about now. Seriously, I know they get both the medicine and the law wrong on this show every week, but that was pretty egregious. Seems like Foreman's most like House in that he's going to be a walking lawsuit magnet.

I stopped watching last year after House and Chuck started going head-to-head, and it feels like I didn't really miss much. Can we put Laurie, Leonard and Braugher on a show together and get rid of everyone else?

LisaE said...

House going back to his misanthropic ways by mid-season? Seriously? I give it 2 more episodes and then it'll be as if he never saw the insides of Mayfield. Over the course of the last 3 years, the writers have proven that they fail at continuity.
Last season Wilson left because he blamed House for Amber's death and then...you blinked and there he was again, being House's very own cheerleader as if Amber never existed.

Anonymous said...

Re: Foreman firing 13: nice to leave your girlfriend without a job and medical insurance when she has Lou Gehrig's disease.

Epiphany said...

Overall, not a bad episode. House/Cuddy/Wilson segments were awesome (Foreman "embracing his inner Mugabe" - fab line!). Nice of Chase and Cameron to turn up for their bi-weekly 120 seconds of airtime. Great to see Andre Braugher again. Now to the real shocker: normally, I dislike 13, despise Foreteen and don't care about Foreman. But this episode - and I can't believe I'm about to say this - 13 didn't annoy me as much as she normally does. Sure, Foreteen still made me lose my lunch and Foreman was beyond insufferable, but Taub and 13's scenes together weren't that bad. Now that I've said that, prepare for The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse and the End of Days.

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm not a big fan of Foreman, and the 13 overdose we got last year turned me off on her totally. And yet, this ep I found interesting.

I always love RSL (well, at least on House - I don't seek him out)

Braugher was cool.

House's cooking hobby reminded me, oddly, of Izzie and her post-Denny muffin marathon.
(she "quit being a doctor" too)

Is there really nothing House can take for that pain that won't be addictive? I can't imagine Ibubrofen touching pain like that. (as he said). And why can he walk so much better than he used to?

Thanks so much to the writers for *finally* saying there is no such thing as a department of diagnostics. (I guess that's followed by the department of treatment?) We made it up to get you.

Does the hospital have wifi or does the patient have EVDO? (what's EVDO?)

Didn't Taub have some sort of non-compete he couldn't get out of (by which I mean, he *had* to come work for House for the same reason Mark Sloan *had to* leave NYC for Seattle. (someone he slept with's husband bought a gun)

I found Foreman and 13's problem to be interesting (only for 1 episode, please, mind you) and what's that quote from Grey's? It was really stupid to sleep with our boss(es)?

If any of this were to go on for very long, I'd get bored, but for a change - it was a change.
House and Grey's suit themselves to longevity far less than ER did. Scrubs is yet to be determined.

And finally - are House and Wilson living in Amber's apartment?
Okay, now that I have thought of the question, I have to go back and see if anyone asked it.

I also liked Foreman and Chase talking about women.

Note: last season of House was so boring, it was something I had to "get around to" watching.

I didn't jump on this one, but my cousin watched it, so I decided to get it done.

Pamela Jaye said...

oh, and I'm not used to TV characters going to therapy (helpful therapy - not Ally McBeal/Tracy Ullman therapy) so House, Meredith, Owen and Cristina are fascinating me.

Pamela Jaye said...

and Kathy, you need to watch this MTV parody :-)

Pamela Jaye said...

@Eyeball Wit - would adding in Scott Bakula help, even a little bit? I'm actually looking forward to Men of a Certain Age.

Even though I'm a big Bakula fan, and put out a lot of energy to save Enterprise (but only until it was canceled, not afterwards) I really wasn't all that entranced with the show. This one, however, looks promising.

my captcha is cupycest...

Unknown said...

I completely agree. The parts in the hospital mostly bored me, but the scenes of House were quite interesting. I sort of wish they would go through a couple of weeks of him trying out different things: cooking, quilting, basket weaving, painting, and being absolutely amazing at all of it (but not really liking any of it) before finally going back to work or maybe finding something else. It kind of seems fitting that he would get discouraged after one attempt (it seems like something he's done before) but at the same time it annoyed me that he didn't try something else.

And if I was Thirteen, I'd dump Foreman anyway. Yeah, the whole dating your boss thing makes for an awkward work/home relationship. Your answer to this is to fire your girlfriend? Because THAT will make her less pissed at you than breaking up with her. If I was her, I'd have a snarky line like "you don't want to lose me, so you're firing me? well, guess what buddy, you just lost me anyway."

Seriously, sometimes it seems like he's more of a jerk than House.

Count Screwloose said...

"Et tu, bootay?"

Worth the whole hour.

Ostiose Vagrant said...

Everyone is in agreement, let's have a event episode of House where The Joker visits PPTH and have House, Cuddy and Wilson on an off day.

They can start their own diner and turn it into an half-hour sitcom. Clearly, the patient stories are played out. If House is a Sherlock Holmes then they need to twist the formula a bit; even Holmes had some endgame where he faces off with Moriarty.

Pamela Jaye said...

I don't remember Moriarty in any Holmes I ever saw (in my defense I only saw some PBS Holmes, I *have* heard of the guy). Hopefully Moriarty is a more worthy foe than Vogler and Tritter? Cause they were a joke (and in Tritter's case, without a punch line - did anyone ever ask the writers why we never found some deep hidden motivation to Tritter's vendetta?)

Anonymous said...

"did anyone ever ask the writers why we never found some deep hidden motivation to Tritter's vendetta?"

Or why the hospital gave a cop with a grudge his own office so he could harass and threaten hospital employees? Everyone who complains about 13's screen time should be forced to watch the Tritter subplot again.

Anonymous said...

The monkey in the video game had a more expressive face than 12


maybe he was a better actor.