Lawrence Kaplow is obstinately tight-lipped about the House season three finale, scheduled to air May 29. He does reveal that he co-wrote it with Thomas Moran; that the teaser was conceived before the rest of the episode, shot before the episode was fully written, and took considerable preparation, special effects, and stunt men; that executive producer Katie Jacobs, who'd directed for the first time on the Kaplow-penned "Half-Wit," was directing this one, too; and that the rest of the episode started filming on Friday.
But will he give me any hints what it's about? "I don't think I should." Will it end on a cliffhanger? "Hmmm." Does someone shoot House? "I think fans will be pleased."
So what did I get out of him? About that intricate teaser: "It's not insane, like Mars blows up, but for our show, it's big."
I ponder the headline "Mars Does Not Blow Up in House Finale" as an a propos line from the last episode runs through my head: "I asked you what two plus two equals, and a day later you tell me 'not 25.'"
Perhaps my tactical error was to beg for details while warning him repeatedly that I hate spoilers. Hard to say, though.
Write What You Know: "There are aspects of all our personalities that we give to House."
"You have to understand: Shore is House," Kaplow says, explaining the sense of humour of show creator David Shore, and, therefore, of his indelible character. "It's not even sarcasm, it's just truth, it's painful truth, maybe an exaggeration of reality."
But not surprisingly, Kaplow seems to have a Housian streak of his own. Stubbornness might be part of it. So might sarcasm.
When our interview is scheduled for 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, he asks if I have TiVo. My way-too-literal, brand-phobic brain answers: "Yes. Well, the Canadian version." His reply: "Canadian TiVo … what's that, a VCR?" He toys with me as I flounder in trying to frame a question about his string of addiction-exploring episodes. He mocks me for asking him to recall the early days, "like we were on in 1947." And, as with House's wit, it kept me laughing on a Tuesday evening.
Yet he reveals a humility and humanity that House would scorn, and that even causes Kaplow some lighthearted self-flagellation. He worries he's heightened my expectations after that finale build-up. "I hope you're not going to say, 'Oh my God, he could have told us this, because this sucks.'"
"I was surprised anyone was aware of me. I keep my head down and I am truly interested in the work I do. I have such a good time doing it. I am so happy doing it." He pauses. "That sounds so Pollyanna. Kill me."
Fiction Versus Reality: "This is when real life and our TV show intersect, and you're floored."
He even berates himself for digressing after he tells me the most touching and insightful anecdote of the interview.
"We get excited when we find a really bad disease. We're happy. We're saying 'Oooh, someone's spleen can fall out their eyeball. That's fantastic. And it strikes children. This is so cool!' Because for us, it really is great to find something that plays on all those emotions," he starts. "But there are real people out there with real diseases, the ones that are on the show, and then we get letters saying thank you."