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A Chat With House, M.D. Writer/Producer Doris Egan on “Baggage” and More

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Doris Egan took time out of a day-long season seven story meeting (she’s writing next season’s premiere) to talk to me about this week’s penultimate episode “Baggage” and on writing House. Many in the House fan community were sad to learn on Egan’s blog that she is cutting back next year on her involvement in the series to concentrate on other things. As a consulting producer next season, she will only write one episode. “We’ll see how many of my projects work out. I want at least to make the attempt to (among other things) write a new book. My editor has stopped asking when the new book will be written.” The good news is that we won’t have to wait long for that one episode; she’s writing the season seven premiere!

With the series since season two, Egan has penned some of the series best episodes, including “Don’t Ever Change” (with Leonard Dick, for which they recieved a Writers Guild nomination). She has become known to fans of the House-Wilson relationship as St. Doris for her take on their friendship, but has also become the House road trip maven.

When David Shore mentioned at a writers meeting that there should be a road trip episode in season in season six, “for some reason everyone around the table looked at me,” she laughed. Indeed, Egan has written most of the series road trips, including “Failure to Communicate,” “Son of Coma Guy,” “Birthmarks,” “The Social Contract,” and “Known Unknowns.” 

Egan has written episodes solo and with a writing partner. “Each has different pluses and minuses. When you’re writing by yourself, to an extent, you don’t have anyone to satisfy but yourself.” And while Egan likes writing by herself, she also enjoys writing with a partner.  “When you’re writing with a partner, you have to find some way of making it work in those scenes on which you don’t agree. Sometimes you have to get creative and try to find a way to rethink the approach from a completely new angle.” That’s often a great thing, she explained.  “Sometimes you can sometimes come up with something that’s better than you ever had at the beginning.  The great thing about writing with a partner, like brainstorming in a writers room, it’s better than the sum of its parts.”

Egan wrote “Baggage” with David Foster, with whom she paired to write last season’s “Birthmarks” as well. “David wanted to do a story with Alvie.” Egan noted that Foster “is amazingly good at channeling Alvie. He is just brilliant with writing Alvie.” It was his idea to do the immigration story and we talked about where else to take things.”  They felt it was a natural way to bring things back full circle from “Broken” and “see where House was after an entire season. Iit just began to feel natural that if Alvie was there to bring in Nolan into it.”

The episode plays out as a therapy session during which House tells Nolan about his week. Like season one’s “Three Stories,” and season two’s “The Mistake,” “Baggage” unfolds as cuts from narration to flashback, sometimes non-linearly. “Chronologically we go from Wilson’s place to the apartment where we saw Alvie and then to the ER, but the way House tells the story, he starts in the ER.” It’s not a place where House usually hangs out so Nolan stops him, asking what he was doing there.  “Then we go back to Wilson” where House reveals that Wilson has asked him to leave. “We thought about doing the whole thing non-linearly,” Egan said, “but we thought it might get very confusing.”

Although we have some evidence during the season that House has continued with his therapy, in “Baggage,” we learn that House has maintained weekly appointments with his psychiatrist.

“We had talked about whether House was still seeing Nolan and came to the conclusion he was. We didn’t necessarily think way back at the beginning of the season that we must have an episode where we see them together again, but we were always open to the idea of getting Andre Braugher back.” Egan added, “who wouldn’t  be?”

The result in “Baggage” is stunning. A perfect combination of writers, a director and two powerful actors in Braugher and Hugh Laurie makes for an incredible series of scenes between brilliant shrink and brilliant patient. “I really loved watching this episode shot,” Egan noted. 

In last season’s “Both Sides Now,” House doesn’t believe that rehab or therapy will help him. But by the end of “Broken,” he begins to believe that he can be helped. “I don’t know how far he would have gotten in therapy with someone else,” suggested Egan.

But is Nolan House’s “House?” I asked. “I think he is to an extent,” Egan commented. “He certainly doesn’t hesitate on calling House out on any of his bullshit and where House diagnoses physical illnesses, Nolan spends his day diagnosing the way people are thinking. I think it’s very fortunate for House that Nolan turned out to be his therapist.”

As we are flies on the wall during House’s therapy session, we learn that for this therapy session House seems to come in with more “baggage” than usual. Nolan notes that he’s late (something Nolan says is rare–interestingly–in the chronically late House), and has failed to comment on a new piece of art in the waiting room.

“House notices everything and normally at that point, he might say something critical or annoying or just generally Housian, but instead he says he was in a hurry and just didn’t notice it. This is what Nolan really picks up on.” Egan explained that “House does notice things. He may not talk about everything he notices, but he does notice them.” Nolan, who is as perceptive as House, realizes that something is very off.

As usual, there are connections as well in the story between House and the patient of the week. “Usually the way it happens in writing House, you start with a basic concept and the scenes and parallels grow out naturally  as you work with it.” 

In “Baggage,” the patient is a woman with amnesia (Sydney). Her husband is having a hard time dealing with it, which is difficult for Sydney, who has no affinity for the life her husband insists she’s lived for years—and loved.  He sees Sydney distancing herself from him, rejecting him. 

“The husband is losing someone he loves and wants to hold on to them, but he’s going about in exactly the wrong way,” Egan explained.  “House is really hard on the husband,” whom he views as forcing an intimacy and familiarity on Sydney. She doesn’t remember him and the familiarity seems to put her off and make her uncomfortable. “I liked the idea of House being hard on the husband,” Egan noted, “because House is being hard on himself” by extension. 

 “Usually House is not that hard on people in his way. Yes, he’s hard on everybody, but he is not usually judgmental,” she continued.  Although that seems strange for the bitingly sarcastic House, Egan is right of course. If you look at the record, House is probably the least judgmental guy around Princeton-Plainsboro. But in “Baggage,” perhaps House sees himself in the husband. “He’s as harsh (on Sydney’s husband) as he would be on himself. When House fails his own standards, I don’t think he’s very forgiving.”

An important part of the episode concerns the reappearance of Alvie, House’s roommate at Mayfield. “I think he is a distraction for House. And we’ve known since ‘Broken’ that he likes Alvie. But of course “they’re never going to be best friends like he and Wilson.” House and Wilson’s relationship is unique.

“You can’t imagine him having one of those House-Wilson conversations with Alvie.” Egan explained that Alvie is like a one of those playful, but irritating, pesty kid brothers “who follows you around everywhere and refuses to go away. But then when he’s gone, and you may pretend you don’t want him there, but at the end of the day you’re sad that he gave up and left.” 

House is far from happy when he discovers that Alvie has pawned a bunch of House’s belongings to buy redecorating supplies. House goes to great expense to recover his lost treasures, including a stack of books. And he’s very upset when he learns that the pawnbroker has sold one of the volumes. “people like their stuff,” is how House explains to the pawnbroker why he’s willing to pay $500 for a seemingly worthless pile of junk.

Egan explained that “House is a guy who wanted the same carpet in his office even though was bloodstained (‘Lines in the Sand’ in season three). He is not really a guy who responds well to change.”

But as we learn, there is more to the missing book that immediately meets the eye, something that Nolan finds interesting until he realizes that it’s not just any book. It’s a medical text written by Cuddy’s great grandfather—something he’s been holding onto, he tells Nolan until he can give it to her for a special occasion.

“We know, of course that House cares a lot about her. And I think we can see that House feels he’s made mistakes with her.” And what’s next, if anything, House and Cuddy? Egan was predictably cagey (especially with the season finale days away).  “I say wait and see,” she replied.

Egan and I talked a bit about season six as a whole and some of the challenges of writing the series as it goes into its seventh season. “There was a lot of thought about how much of an effect House’s stay at Mayfield has on him,” Egan said about season six. “If you can’t perceive any difference at all, you wonder if was it worthwhile going through all that. And if you do perceive a difference, how much of a difference was there?”

By the end of “Broken,” House is clearly ready to try something else. “He gets to the point where he is actually participating in trying to change himself.” But how does that change the character. “How is that going to affect his interactions with other people? He’s always going to be sarcastic. So, how far along the road to goodness do you take a guy like House? There was a lot of thinking about that at the beginning of the season,” Egan explained. 

The six-act structure of the episodes continued all season to annoy fans and equally plague the series creative team. Although there are the same number of minutes in each script, most of the commercial minutes are pushed to the back half, which can render the second half choppy, and sometimes completely interrupt the episode’s natural flow for viewers. As Egan said, “it affects the rhythm of the episodes.”

Although the creative minds hate the confines of this structure, there’s little they can about it but try to work within it. “In a traditional four-act structure, you’re always working toward the ‘act-out’ (the end of an act), which is hopefully on a more dramatic point. But if there are six acts, you can’t have six dramatic points in 42 minutes or it will feel silly, but you can’t cut out of nothingness into commercials, because that’s also a little odd.” 

Season seven will bring some new faces to the writers room. “We’ve all been pitching stories. I think you are going to enjoy what they’re bringing,” she said. But the seventh season of any series, no matter how great the writing staff, is going to bring its own challenges. “At this point, I wonder if there’s any road to choose that would satisfy the audience as a whole,” Egan noted candidly.  “If we magnify the medical stories and downplay the personal,” some people would  criticize the show as too predictable. But, “if we magnify the personal, it’s soap opera.  We should be risky, but risky in the right way.” And that is the challenge, she explained.

“What, at this stage, can you change to keep things fresh, without changing the thread that makes it interesting?  I don’t know if there’s an answer, but I can assure you nobody’s taking anything for granted.” 

The House season finale, “Help Me,” airs Monday night at 8:00 ET. I will be posting  a preview of the finale Sunday, followed by a season wrap up with executive producer/writers Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and co-executive producer/writer Peter Blake in the days after the finale airs. So, stay tuned!

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Orange450

    Barbara, thank you so much for sharing this gift with us! You’ve conveyed your conversation with Ms. Egan so very well that I can almost hear her speaking as I read.

    You did a brilliant job of interweaving the episode into her remarks! Really, I can’t imagine a better way to have done this.

    I’m far more interested in her thoughts on the show and the creative process than I am in “finding out what’s going to happen” so this was perfect. Thank you also for getting in some of my “process” questions.

    Now I can’t wait to hear what Lerner & Friend (I wonder if they get that a lot? :)) have to say.

  • http://barbarabarnett.com barbara barmett

    Glad you liked it. She is such a pleasure to talk to. Very gracious.

  • just4paws17

    Great work, Barbara! I always love to read about your chats with the writers. I am a huge fan of the “road trip” episodes as well as Three Stories and The Mistake. I love episodes filmed like that and now Baggage. It just adds to the suspense and what is going to come next. I cannot wait for the finale and I can’t believe I have been following you for 2 seasons already! Thank you for your reviews and comments and all the work you put into this site for House fans and your fans, it is greatly appreciated!
    Until Monday,
    Jen

  • http://www.myspace.com/anodd_1 Kiona

    Great article!

    I still think the whole “House-values-book-for-future-gift-material-to-author’s-great-granddaughter-who-happens-to-be-Cuddy” thing was ridiculous. I mean, it stands to reason that he just wanted the book back for the sake of having it back. The added twist felt very contrived.

    Nolan did the research on the premise that it was odd for House to want the book back so badly. Because that doesn’t make sense to me, the connection to Cuddy feels forced. Like it was thrown in at the last minute.

    Then again, I am still of the mind House should end up with Wilson. Maybe this is all my bias talking.

    Either way, the writers know best. They’re doing what they feel is best for the show. Far be it for me to suggest otherwise. So I look forward to seeing how all these various little twists play out in Season 7.

  • http://jihime47.livejournal.com Ji

    St Doris, don’t ever change!

  • V. Letterman

    From an unbiased standpoint, and with unconditional love for the show, I remain very happy about Baggage as an episode. I believe it was true to House’s standards of quality, and definitely was reminiscent of episodes such as Three Stories, which was at the height of their writing. Absolutely phenomenal writing, down to the every detail, and I must say that the cinematography was brilliant as well.

    There were so many details, like the storm brewing outside and the various tones of color and lighting that varied from scene to scene, that just added depth and layers to this wonderful episode. Doris Egan and David Foster are both very ingenious writers, as are all of them, and Baggage again was proof that House is among the greatest shows of today.

    I am also glad that Doris Egan, and I’m sure the rest of the cast, is not willing to sacrifice some of the show’s values for the sake of satisfying every audience. A soap opera, House is not. I would like if, as they have this season, they continue to unravel mysteries with their characters; deepen plot lines, take interesting twists and turns, and be unafraid of unconventional and controversial paths they might take, such as they embarked on with Chase’s arc with Dibala. I think this is what keeps the show alive.

    It is an intellectually intriguing and enlightening show, and I think at the end of the day, its questions of ethics, politics, religion and the many questions of life stick with us and make an impact. And of course, at the heart of the show is probably the most unconventional character on television, and he should remain that way. Should always carry his spark of genius and despite that, his child-like inability to understand people and their emotional lives. In this way, we realize many things about ourselves through him, and we are left with the captivating image of the genius who can crack a case and save a life, but can scarcely save his own.

    Thank you, Barbara, for your wonderful interview with Doris Egan. You asked some interesting questions about the creative process and other things that are integral to the show as a whole.

  • Kudos 21

    Great interview! I have loved all the episodes DE has written and am sad to learn she won’t be as active next season.

    I loved this episode, the script and directing was equally superb.

    So glad she commented on Nolan not standing for any of House’s BS they were my exact comments elsewhere when i watched. Nolan is House’s perfect match and i really hope we see more of him in season 7 as House continues his journey.

  • lifeline

    Very insightful revealing interview with Doris Egan. The show is very lucky to have someone like her on the writing staff that takes such joy in her work and pride in churning out quality scripts. I think she does superb Hilson and Wilson scenes, and when given the chance, she’s produced many other great moments with other characters also. Unfortunately, I think she was somewhat blamed by some in fandom for the infamous return of Lucas after Greg Yaitanes had tweeted about him being her idea. I read her blog, and I feel sorry that the show is losing a great writer of her caliber.

  • sdemar

    Thanks for the interview with DE, Barbara. I think the show is going to take a hit with her stepping back. She is one of the better writers on the staff. I’m glad to hear they have brought some new writers in as I think the show can use a little shake-up. Can’t believe we are going into the 7th Season but not until we get our finale.

    Thanks again, Barbara.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    Barbara and Mrs.Egan, thank you very much for an inside glimpse at the creative backstage of “House”, which i view as a laboratory where divinely gifted minds do their alchemy and offer us what i believe to be the best written show ever.

    @Kiona: my interpretation on the book is different – i would call it anything but ridiculous. I did not see that as an “extra twist” – the fact that House kept the reason why he wanted the book back so badly a secret was another indication of the fact that he tried as hard as he could to avoid acknowledging “the Cuddy issue” fully, not even to himself, let alone his therapist. His hesitations in getting to the core of his distress were sincere, and they are motivated by the fact that, while in his relationship with Wilson, he managed to reach a sort of balance that allows him to feel safe, his relationship with Cuddy is still an open wound that he feels very scared to touch.

    @ lifeline: i haven’t heard about that as a reason for Mrs.Egan’s limited involvement in next season’s writing. However, i hope that it is not true. I honestly hope that nobody from this fantastic creative team or from the cast allows themselves to be affected by the juvenile, hysterical and non-argumented criticism flying around the internet – and “criticism” is a too gentle a word: these so called “fandom wars” are beneath any civilised manner of self expression, and they lack any sort of foundation or reasoning.

    @ Barbara: season finale preview on Sunday? How much will you be able to share? Perhaps a little hint, about whether things are as bad as they seem from the promos or not?… It’s just that i have no idea how to prepare myself for that night. I joined House gladly during his tremendous emotional journey in season 6, i applauded his efforts, i kept my fingers crossed that he gets at least some of what he wants and needs (including Cuddy) – after a year in which he has earned his right to a glimpse of happiness.
    I am seriously shaken by the promos i watched and i am very worried not only about House, but about my own emotional fall during and after this finale…

  • Emily

    Poorly composed, poorly edited article with limited questions and answers of the ones you asked us to supply.

    VERY disappointed that this was the best you could do with such a great writer and personality as St. Doris.

  • http://blogcritics.org/video/article/tv-review-house-md-teamwork/comments-page-2/#comments rsg

    Thank you Barbara for getting this interview with DE. She is by far one one my favorite writers for the show, and all her episodes are my favorites.
    I loved the last episode Baggage– House was late and that was unusual(!) The storm shown several times throughout the show was foretelling, and then House trying to buy his own possessions back at such cost! Not like him to spend money so willingly at all. We knew something was up, and not just his wish to get his comfort with similarity back. When “the book” he couldn’t get back turned out to be by Cuddy’s grandfathers’ book—perfect. He was saving the book to give to Cuddy for years. How Housian is that?
    Great interview, great episode.

  • Donna

    Thank you Barbara for this wonderful interview.

    I always have a high regard for individuals who have a real passion and joy for what they do and always maintain their integrity doing it. After reading this interview and her LJ blog yesterday I feel this way about Doris Egan. While the show and writers have had a fair amount of criticism handed to them this year (deserved and undeserved), she indicates that decisions about a story/ character development are never taken lightly. Unfortunately, you can never please everyone all of the time. None of us can.

    All I know is that I will miss the scribe talents of DE on House and certainly wish her well on fulfilling her long put-aside personal endeavors. Of course, I’ll continue to follow her on twitter hoping for a mid-winter 2011 tweet that she’s returning to House to write the season finale! One can dream.

  • barbara barnett

    Thank you everyone for your kind words.

    Emily–of course you are entitled to your opinion. I got lots and lots of questions (and my own as well), and I picked those that were relevant to the conversation as it went on. I got a lot of great questions from viewers, and I got some very snidely toned questions as well that would have been incredibly rude to ask.

    I had a limited amount of time with her, but beyond that I’m not going to defend either my writing or the interview.

    I’m glad that most people seem to have gotten something from it.

  • Kerry

    Nice interview. Its a shame that this season has been so disappointing. I hate being negative about House, its one of my favourite shows and I understand that after six seasons, it may have passed its peak. However, the writers have made some bad mistakes regaarding plotlines, cast changes and far too much emphasis on the supporting characters. Its also recycled plots tot he point where its not amusing any more just predictable. For example the ‘Wilson dating someone, House trying to break them up’ story lines that have been going on since at least season 3. Give us a break! Some good things have happened like Chase being brought back into the fold and I actually like Thirteen now which is new, but Cuddy who I would a consider a previous personal favourite has been changed beyond recognition and the chemistry between herself and House has been diminished. Im hoping it may be resurrected during the finale but really not holding my breath.This season could easily be deleted from the House canon in my opinion, I’d give it a D- overall.

  • simona

    Barbara, thanks for telling us the chat with this phenomenal writer and I’ll miss her.
    About the season I liked it, and when sometimes I felt sorry as “Huddy” :-)) I recalled the precious words of Hugh Laurie during an interview: does not matter “what” but “how”. And certainly about “how” I was never disappointed.
    Thanks again.

  • Kevin

    Barbara-This is the only article I read on the internet with regularity. Your insight and comments really make it all come together for me.
    There has been one question I have always wanted to ask the writers of House. Do you get suggestions for medical cases from really life situations and fans of the show? I could see someone writing in saying “My aunt had such-and-such, but they first thought it was this and almost killed her by the treatment before they realized it was this.” It would be interesting to find out how many letters like that they get.

  • blacktop

    Barbara: Thank you for this excellent account of your interview with DE. She is such a splendid writer, really — along with David Shore — the guiding soul of this great show.

    I was quite surprised that DE said that the genesis of “Baggage” was the desire to revisit House’s relationship with Alvie. I would have thought that the core idea was to get another glimpse into House’s tortured psyche through the therapy session with Nolan.

    In my view, the episode could have done quite well without the presence of Alvie altogether. The heart of the drama was the careful and relentless way that Nolan drove to the bruised and tender center of House’s personal ills.

    The structure of the therapy session brilliantly mimicked that of the standard DDX we see every week on “House.” At first, dealing with an assortment of clues pulled from the reluctant House, Nolan surmises that Wilson’s decision to send House away is the chief cause of House’s misery.

    But as with all diagnoses, the first conclusion is not the complete answer and there is much more that subsequent investigation must uncover (“It’s never lupus!”).

    Nolan is caustic, determined, and unsentimental in his pursuit of the truth, exactly like House. Only this time it is House on the receiving end of the harsh examination. The final reveal that Cuddy’s estrangement from him is the source of House’s precipitous decline is a natural extension of what we learned in “The Choice.”

    The unpeeling House’s character over the seasons has proceeded in precisely this fashion too. What we knew of House in the first seasons has been revealed to have been only part of the story and each season shows us a more complex and detailed vision of this amazing character.

    Doris Egan is an important contributor to our investigation of House and her episodes have been the crown jewels of this treasure trove. I wish her well in her new pursuits and hope she continues to keep her hand on “House” as next season unfolds.

  • Alex

    Since you asked Doris Egan what’s next for House and Cuddy I wished you had asked her what’s next for Cameron too, she’s part of the show too, isn’t she?

  • Janine

    Barbara
    when you say a preview of the finale, do you mean a clip or a article or both. I’d like an artice, because I think I’ve seen every clip on the internet!!
    Also, does it bother anyone else that people are saying, based on the 30 second promo or the 2 minute clip, that this episode is a rehash of “Houses Head”? The only similarities I see so far between the two are the accident scene and *SPOILER* supposidly one of the collapse victims dies, but patients have died a number of times in the past * END SPOILER*.
    The rest of the plot, based on the promo, seems completely different. More about the here and now than figuring out a mistery like House’s Head. I guess people will just find any reason to complain just because the show isn’t doing what they want it to.

  • noelia

    Thank you Barbara. Baggage is right now in my top 10 list. Brilliant episode.

  • barbara barnett

    Janine, I just posted a preview article (only very mild spoilers). It does bother me that people are pre-judging the show based on very little.

  • Sue

    Barbara,

    I find this interview insightful because DE avoids speaking of several of the major problems with this show. The first problem is ARROGANCE. I have read many interviews that David Shore and Katie Jacobs have given, and both have spoken like they were living in a TV bubble. They were untouchable. Nothing they did would drive viewers away. Messages posted on forums did not have any influence over them. They were going to do what they wanted to do with the characters and the show. They can’t please everyone, so it didn’t matter what critics and fans wrote or wanted to see happen. Well, that has come back to bite them in the a$$. They depended too much on Hugh Laurie and Lisa and Robert to carry the show. That hasn’t happened.

    The second problem-CASTING. The first error came when they dumped the old team at the end of season three. We did not have dependable characters to latch on to until several weeks later; then, the characters they gave us were devoid of personality and they had no chemistry with each other or House. They paid no attention to the message boards where fans posted how much they disliked the new team. They could have tracked the posts of loyal fans on their own Fox forum to see how they felt about the changes on the show. When we were over-run with 13 episodes in season 5, I believe it was Fox that put the brakes on that. It was at that time that the moderator of the Fox message board started sending word-for-word posts about the episodes to the network. The actors they have cast as patients have not been good enough to make me care about their dilemmas. When the patient draws the viewer in, the formula becomes less important.

    The third problem-ARROGANT WRITING. The producers and writers seem to be writing to impress, not to tell the story. An example of this is the swan reference in a recent episode. Whatever they were saying went right over my head. I didn’t get it on the second viewing either. While it is nice to be able to make analogies in a script, if the viewer doesn’t understand what the characters are saying the first time they hear it, they will lose the gist of the conversation and get turned off. Even if the viewer thinks it is brilliant the second time, they lost the flow on the first viewing. I find this kind of arrogant writing on House but not on any of the other programs I watch. To some, the writing may be brilliant. I think the shows are over-written.

    The fourth problem-ORIGINALITY. The show has gotten very predictable. The patient has a problem, they try several wrong treatments, and finally House comes up with the diagnosis in the end. Even if the cases have a twist in the end, the predictability factor has gotten old. Yes, this is the formula of the show. They must intersperse more original and different episodes that are off-formula during the season. We had a brilliant two-part opener; then we were back to the same formula for most of the rest of the season. Lockdown was great because it was different and because Hugh as director brought more personality out of the characters. If we get the same boring Taub with his dry remarks every week, why do they think that would be interesting? House had interfered with Taub’s marriage in the past, yet we got more of it again. Who cares? Even if it tells us something about House and how he is feeling, we didn’t care about Taub’s marriage the first time so why should we care now? How many times has House interfered in Wilson’s relationships?

    The fifth problem-AVOIDING THE MOONLIGHTING SITUATION- The relationship between House and Cuddy has been set-up to avoid the loss of interest of fans once the characters actually get together. This is so obvious it has become a distraction. House and Cuddy want each other, but the writing is set-up to put obstacles between them. Then, something will happen to momentarily draw them together, and they will separate again. Rather than take the plunge with originality, they have gone predictably with unrequited love. I understand that there are a lot of fans who are not Huddys. Instead of being original in how they approach Huddy, they are frustrating the Huddy and non-Huddy fans. The hallucinated sex was original; what is happening now seems contrived.

    The sixth problem-LACK OF STORY CONTINUITY-Fans get frustrated when there is no consistency in the history of the characters. This is particularly true with Wilson’s past. In the same episode, Wilson was with Sam in 1990-1991, then it is only ten years ago that they split up. Cuddy supposedly remembers how Wilson was when he split up with Sam, but Wilson only came to the hospital about 10 years ago. They also have a problem with how they spring new situations on the viewer without any build-up to what they are telling in the story. An example is Taub’s marriage. All of a sudden we get this as a major theme in an episode when it has not been a topic of conversation for at least a year. Wilson’s brother was the focus of The Social Contract, yet we had not heard about him for several seasons. We have not heard about him since. If they peak the interest of fans with a new idea or a new dilemma, dropping it immediately makes the stories seem contrived and manipulated just for the benefit of a single episode.

    The seventh problem-NO CLINIC SCENES. The show has basically eliminated a part of the show that fans universally loved. There was humor, originality, great clinic patients, parallel story lines and revelations about House that we did not see otherwise. Rather than be bored with Taub, I would rather see a great clinic scene. The show needs the humor and the absurdity of the characters and House’s reaction to them. The show is depending too much on the back stories of the characters to drive the show. However, what they are missing is that we don’t care about the current characters as much as we cared about clinic scenes.

    The eighth problem-STUCK IN A RUT-It is now three years since the new team started. This is the point where the producers felt it was time for the old team to move on. So, why has there been no indication that the new team is moving on? If they don’t leave, there is a continuity problem with the reason the first team left. The major problem is that they have spent three years with these boring characters rather than replacing them with new ones. Law and Order SVU started the year with an actress as the new D.A, who could not make the character interesting. Rather than stick with her the whole season, they got rid of her after a few episodes. Grey’s Anatomy has brought in many new characters in the last few seasons. House stays with the same core cast, some of whom have bored viewers since they started on the show. Rather than change those characters, they brought Chase back on the team. I don’t think that has worked because they made Foreman boring, and Taub and 13 have no chemistry with any of the other characters. The best episodes have been ones where we had less of the old characters and we got new characters, like in Broken and Baggage, Hugh was at his best when he interacted with Alvie and Dr. Nolan. The old team had great chemistry with Hosue. Even though we have 2 out of three of the old team still there, the addition of Taub and 13 to the mix has diminished the chemistry between House, Chase and Foreman.

    The ninth problem-STOP TELLING US HOW HOT 13 IS! You can’t make us like her by telling us everyone in the world is attracted to her. This is getting old and overdone. Cameron was hot enough for House to be interested in her, yet we were not inundated with “Cameron is hot” dialogue.

    The tenth problem-LACK OF CHEMISTRY BETWEEN THE CHARACTERS-13 and Taub have never “clicked” with House. I always felt the characters were actors speaking lines. I never felt that the interaction between House and these characters gave us anything new about House. The characters at Mayfield were believable and brought out parts of House we had not seen before. There was great chemistry between all of the characters at Mayfield; this only points out how little chemistry there is now between House and his team. Chemistry is an intangible that cannot be predicted when hiring actors. When there is no chemistry, actors need to be replaced.

    The eleventh problem-LACK OF THE ETHICAL DILEMMA-In the first few seasons, House would do things regarding the patients that posed the “ethical dilemma” that made House the hero in the end. This is the way we found out about House’s character and how he would put himself on the line for the greater good. Lately, we have not seen this involving the patients. This has been redirected to how House interacts with the other main characters. For example, House interfered in Taub’s marriage to make Taub see that he should not be cheating. However, I found that I disliked House for doing this regardless of his motive. House interfered in Foreman’s relationship with 13. House was no longer the hero; he was a meddler. The likely reason I don’t find House the hero in these situations is that I don’t care about the greater good House was trying to achieve.

    Most of these problems are not due to the writers. There are problems with show planning, character development, and casting. The show can be brilliant, and it can stagnate. When we have seen brilliance, we crave it; we cannot be satisfied with mediocre. We want to shake some sense into the show planners. Get some new characters and return the show to what it once was. I would hate to see Doris Egan stop writing for the show. She has to be given a better foundation for her brilliant writing-better characters, new situations, clinic scenes, and original formulas.

  • lifeline

    @Sue – That’s a long list, and I agree with many of the issues that you brought up. I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoints on the showrunners and that arrogance is what is bringing down the show.

    My primary issues with the show going into the sixth season are basically:

    1. The use of contrived plot devices. The show no longer allows its characters and storylines to be organically explored. Instead, we have plot devices introduced and characters being bent to fit into this plotline. Prime example, Lucas and Cuddy. No matter how great the writing may be, as a viewer, one cannot suspend all belief when an anvil has been dropped in the middle of the room with no precursor to why it should be there.

    2. The introduction of storylines that appear to progess a character, but never comes to a satisfying ending. Storylines are brought in and dropped without any real closure. For example, the Dibala murder. In this storyline, the story was bigger than anything that show can ever handle, and should never have been introduced. While it brought a great actor like James Earl Jones to the show, we never experience the real-life consequences of what murder would have brought to Chase’s character.

    3. In the show’s attempts to make viewers empathize with House and his journey, the writers have turned all the supporting characters into such unlikeable beings that viewers like myself have a hard time caring for what happens to them. All of a sudden, all of the characters are extremely damaged but we never really shown why they are the way they are. With this season, it feels that House is a much better person than any the other supporting characters.

  • Sue

    Lifeline,

    I agree with everything you wrote. We have the same opinions; perhaps you brought it out in a different way to make the same point.

    When I watch other shows, I notice how story lines are gradually introduced and cultivated so that when the situation reaches its climax, you feel like you have lived the story with the characters from the beginning. These stories reach a natural conclusion, without being dropped. This shows a respect for viewers I do not see on House.

  • Grace

    Sue and Lifeline you are both so right. I was going to mention bringing Clinic Duty back just to break up the patient of the week and the soap opera part of the show since I *think* they are going to continue to do both. Taub is a real problem for me. I resent every second he is on screen. I don’t care about him or his marriage. 13 is also a real problem for me. They tried to stuff her down our throats and it didn’t work, yet she’s still here. The rest of the cast I can live with except I hope and pray that the episodes do not become too Huddy heavy as I am not a Huddy. I want House to end up with Stacy. I wonder how the writers will make Cuddy strong like she used to be if she is with House.
    Footnote: I like Alvie. A little goes a long way BUT at least he and House had a certain chemistry between them. That reminds me….Why do you think Alvie left w/o saying good-bye to House in person?