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House, M.D. Creator David Shore and Actress Odette Annable Talk About the Season Premiere and More

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With the House, M.D. season eight premiere “Twenty Vicodin” now less than a week away, series creator David Shore and the show’s newest cast member Odette Annable met with television journalists and bloggers on a conference call to discuss the premiere and upcoming season. Beware, spoilerphobes! There are a few spoilers sprinkled throughout, and a “First Look” at season eight video courtesy of FOX Programming on the last page.

Annable is the House cast’s newest member, introduced to viewers in “Twenty Vicodin.” Annable plays Doctor Jessica Adams, a young and very bright prison doctor whom House (Hugh Laurie) meets during the premiere. The newest series regular admits to being a bit nervous joining the well established cast, she was quickly put at ease, particularly by the series star. Noting Hugh Laurie’s generosity as an actor, Annable said, “he really blew me away.”

As you might remember, Dr. Gregory House was last seen walking down a tropical beach after ramming his car into Lisa Cuddy’s (Lisa Edelstein) dining room in last season’s finale “Moving On.” We find him at the start of season eight serving a (not-so-trivial) prison sentence for his actions.

The season premiere takes place at the New Jersey prison, many months into House’s sentence, picking up as he is up for an early parole. Shore noted that they didn’t want to trivialize House’s behavior in “Moving On.” They “We wanted him to be appropriately punished, but didn’t want to do a prison show. We had a bit of a dilemma.” So the solution was to leap ahead months into House’s prison.

“Twenty Vicodin” explores the a growing relationship between House and the inexperienced but very sharp young Doctor Adams. Ready to give up medicine when he is released, House finds himself slowly drawn into the mystery of another prisoner’s symptoms. Adams is equally drawn toward House’s orbit—and, perhaps, a bit under his influence. As Annable noted, “they help each other” over the course of the episode.

Shore explained that the biggest challenge in the premiere is that House is in prison—and he has to behave himself, which for House isn’t so easy. While a year in prison hasn’t quite broken him, House does seem a bit whipped (although his snark muscle hasn’t completely atrophied). As tough as House likes to project himself to be, it’s pretty easy to physically overpower him, and as he has to really behave himself, we see him bit more passive than the aggressive guy to which we’re accustomed. It’s an fascinating dynamic, observing House, where his reputation as a medical miracle man does him no good. He’s adapted to prison life (in his own way) after so many months, but it’s also interesting to see House struggle with trying to conform to the expectations an unfamiliar power structure; the inmates—and the prison system—are so much higher in the pecking order. 

Shore assured viewers that House will soon be back in his more familiar environment. But he has been away a long time, after all, Shore explained, and that, too will present problems for him. Everyone in House’s universe has gotten on with their lives—for the many months of his absence.

House gets out of prison early in episode two. However, Shore revealed, the second episode, like the first, leaps forward in time. And when he returns to his old, “revised” world he will find it much changed. “The first episode takes place months after the end of last season, and then the next episode takes place a decent amount of time after the first episode.”

Does prison permanently change the stubborn, manipulative, and sometimes arrogant House? Shore reminded us of one of the show’s signature mantras, “Nobody changes.”

House,” noted Shore is “about a guy who’s striving to change and failing – for the most part and that that is human nature. It’s really about the striving to be different.” So, the series creator explained, “You’re not going to see a different House this year. On a very fundamental level I don’t want to do that. I like him. I think the audience likes him.”

Although prison may not have fundamentally altered the essential Dr. Gregory House, changes are all around him. “Everything’s changed for him,” explained Shore. In previous seasons, the writers alter something in House’s universe, presenting new obstacles and challenges. (In season two it is Stacy’s return; season three, it’s the promise of the ketamine treatment; season four starts with House’s original team gone; season five with the death—and its implications—of Amber Volakis; season six, the aftermath of his mental breakdown; and season seven—his relationship with Dr. Cuddy.)

Shore noted that this season everything’s different for House. “We are going to bring back House to his old world.” But the dynamics are different; everybody’s moved on and “he’s got to get back to a place where he feels comfortable.”

Perhaps the most profound changes in for House are Cuddy’s absence—and his newly chilly relationship with his best friend Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). Cuddy is completely gone from House’s life at this point; actress Lisa Edelstein left the series at the end of last season. Shore expressed his sadness about Edelstein’s departure, adding, “I miss her personally; I miss her as a writer.” But, he noted challenges like Cuddy’s loss present new opportunities.

As far as his relationship with Wilson, Shore explained that House will have to win him back, suggesting, perhaps that it won’t be easy. However, he added—giving us a big spoiler (not)—they do, indeed, get back together. Apparently, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) will also be leaving Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Shore stated that her “goodbye” episode has already been shot.

One thing in House’s life that hasn’t changed is his love affair with Vicodin. Shore wrote him as an addict from the first episode, he said. And “that has been both a practical and dramatic challenge since day one.” Shore believes that they’ve dealt with the addiction honestly. “He is an addict; that is a problem.” But making your central character a Vicodin addict also presents a practical problem for the series. Shore explained that no one wants to watch an addict deal with his addiction episode after episode. And, although the addiction issue is explored again in season eight, it’s not at the center of the series as it moves forward into the early part of the season.

One of the biggest questions on many House watchers’ minds is whether this will be the last season for the show. It’s been widely speculated in the media that season eight will be last. Definitely not putting the speculation to rest, Shore said that at this point, not even he knows the answer to that question, although it’s certainly a possibility.

Thinking about the inevitability of the series end (whether after season eight, nine or ten), Shore reflected that it’s sad to think about it. But, he added, that it is beyond what he ever imagined to have been able to write House (and House). “I have been extremely lucky as a writer to have been able to explore this character for one year never mind eight,” he said.

House’s creator has taken a less prominent role these past several seasons in writing original episodes, noting that each story takes too much research for him to write from scratch these days. But, he added, his hand is present in every script. “I rewrite every script to a greater or lesser extent, and I’ve been quite happy in that role.” However, if this is indeed the final season, Shore speculated that he “may well write” the final installment of the series.

The House, M.D. season premiere airs Monday, October 3 at a new time: 9:00 p.m. ET/8:00 CT. Please join me following the East Coast airing for a live chat to discuss “Twenty Vicodin” and the rest of the season to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.
  • BrokenLeg

    From page two of the thread: “Does prison permanently change the stubborn, manipulative, and sometimes arrogant House? Shore reminded us of one of the show’s signature mantras, “Nobody changes.”

    I ask myself if does DS really think “nobody changes”? Frankly, I doubt it.

    Does he really believe the world, the society, the economy hasn’t changed in this past eight years of the series running? That nowadays world situation is the same than 2004’s, when [H] successfully began? If so, it appears to be that he lives in a bubble with no connection with outside world, and I doubt that either.

    Does DS really think that our entourage, our environment, the interactions in which we are involved really does not change us at all? No my friends, I’m sure he know that everybody changes, more or less, striving and failing, perhaps doing two steps forward one step backward, but changes, a lot or a few, but adapts and evolves. THAT is REALLY human nature, not what DS says .And evolution is also the most important rule in nature’s world we belong.

    But maybe I’m getting a little tired of “The Mantra”……or maybe is because this is the first [H] season opening that doesn’t make me feel as used to be. Really is the first one I do not wait nervous and the first I do not feel that anxiety of good old times.

  • Earth Orbiter

    Broken Leg: I agree with you for the most part; however, the truly arrogant man will never change as soon as he perceives himself to be right. (I think the only exception to this that I’ve seen in my lifetime is Charlie Sheen.) Greg House, on the other hand, has to get plastered before he’ll show any humility (what was the name of that idiotic “my head is in your vagina” episode?), and that’s only if he gains something in return (i.e. said vagina). People like House think the world has to change to adapt to and suit them. Watch the premiere episode; you’ll see what I mean.

    Oh, and one final thought: David Shore has said repeatedly that Greg House is a representation of himself. Please remember that David Shore is a lawyer, albeit a Canadian one, and as such only just recently learned to walk upright, and without his knuckles dragging on the ground. He’s got nowhere to go but up on the food chain, and let’s not forget just how quickly he changed directions, opinions, his mind, his underwear, and his political affiliation after the enormous backlash against last season’s finale which basically totally ruined his summer. David Shore “changes” more often than a Kardashian changes professional athletes.

    And Hugh Laurie just does what he’s told. He’s such a sport.

    P.S. I was glad to read that you’re back on your feet a few weeks ago. Have you taken your bike out of dry dock yet? A former secretary of mine accelerated on her motorcycle one fine, sunny day, but forgot to hold on and suffered a horrible case of road rash on her @ss. That was about six years ago and she still walks funny. As I said, she’s a “former” secretary. Cheers!

  • Diane

    @Barbara:

    “House gets out of prison early in episode two. However, Shore revealed, the second episode, like the first, leaps forward in time. And when he returns to his old, ‘revised’ world he will find it much changed. ‘The first episode takes place months after the end of last season, and then the next episode takes place a decent amount of time after the first episode.'”

    I’m really curious/confused about the exact passage of time between the end of Moving On and House’s inevitable return to PPTH. From what I remember reading in the comments section for the preview of Twenty Vicodin, the show flash-forwards roughly 11 months into the future – we discover that House stayed on the island for about 3 months, and that later on, he has served 8 months out of a 12-month prison sentence by the time he’s sitting before the parole board at the beginning of the season 8 premiere. Now, according to Shore, the second episode will “take place a decent amount of time after the first episode.” Does this mean that House won’t actually resume his position as head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine until at least, what, a year and a half (possibly more) within the show’s timeline?

  • Diane

    @Earth Orbiter:

    “What was the name of that idiotic ‘my head is in your vagina’ episode?”

    I think the episode to which you were referring in your post was Recession Proof. I still cringe every time I remember House’s drunken, rambling speech to Cuddy at the end which sounded more like something you’d hear at a comedy roast than an actually declaration of love.

  • Oversimplified

    @Broken Leg
    Whenever he talks about House never changing it always makes me think of Doyle, who obviously created Sherlock Holmes, which in turn planted the seed in Shore’s mind for House. Like House and his own creation, Doyle was a multi-talented genius who started out as a physician dedicated to scientific knowledge, but who then moved on to writing and finally ended his life a staunch supporter of spiritualism and believing in fairies. I’m not suggesting they should have House follow suit and turn to God, or even start UFO chasing but it’s an interesting comparison. It’s unfeasibly unlikely that anybody who’s had that many near death experiences and hurt others and been hurt by them so many times, wouldn’t come to the conclusion that either they alter their behaviour or they end up unemployed, friendless or, worse still, dead. It’s even less likely that their outlook on life wouldn’t change, no matter how big their God complex.

    I don’t know. I think every time Shore hears the word ‘change’ he imagines a personality version of a Doctor Who regeneration. One where House walks round the corridors at PPTH jovially whistling and smiling at everyone he sees before doling out presents to all the child cancer patients, which nobody wants. I get that they need some sort of conflict, but the fact that House is as immovable as a piece of concrete means that they keep on going over the same ground over and over again, e.g. we’ll be getting a re-make of the Hilson reunion from season 5. Evidently Wilson doesn’t change either. His attitude towards character development is so frustratingly reductive, and I get the feeling that House and the others are a bit like his own personal lab rats who he forces into these strict moulds, but who are actually itching to get out and have a life of their own. Technically, and sadly thematically, it’s more like a twisted sit-com than a drama these days.

    I have no idea what Shore is trying to say with either his show or his character now. Maybe that despite the brief respites, life is essentially a back and forth lurch from pain to misery that we have no control over and we can’t change? If that is the case then I’m finding it increasingly hard to stomach from a white, male, middle-class millionaire.

  • BrokenLeg

    2 @Earth Orbiter

    I agree also in most of your post, and I find great your part: “….the truly arrogant man will never change as soon as he perceives himself to be right. (I think the only exception to this that I’ve seen in my lifetime is Charlie Sheen.)”
    But I may disagree with you about Recession Proof episode (s07e14). Although I’ve found all the “ my head is in your vagina” last part of it a really sophomoric asshole’s words( again a writer’s failure), the previous part of that was to me the only true housian love declaration possible. As I’ve written on June in this same site: “…The beautiful moment I was referring was just the previous one. That so “housian” House’s love declaration to Cuddy. When, drunk, after maybe thinking about it a lot previously, and walking under the rain to Cuddy’s house, he asked Cuddy to sit and be able to hear from his lips that he knew he must become a “crappy” doctor by being in love with her, that people must die for that, but that she deserved that and more. For a so rational man as House is, and to one that values his intellectual abilities over all in the world , that kind of “surrender” to the loved one, I think must be understood as the best gift he could be able to give anyone ever.
    As a woman, I would understood and valued it as it was said, and from who came said.”
    About your words: “People like House think the world has to change to adapt to and suit them” I think that is the first option every living been tries, because it spares efforts, but finally tends to adapt to the environment changing a lot or a few of one’s self. It’s simply the first survival rule.

    And I’ve watched too the screener of the premier. In respect to BB asking we will comment it next October 4th if you want.

    P.S.: Yes!!! I get my bike out of the dry dock recently. I can ride again my motorcycle, although still in a more quiet way, but, my friend, what a pleasure is!!!
    P.S.2: Being myself a big bike rider from many years ago and having suffered in my own leg from a lack of strength ( quadriceps muscle melted literally) I can assure you that GH can’t drive his Repsol Honda with his painful leg that has missing a great part of two of the muscles that formed his quadriceps… So, writing license to HL’s hobby!!!

    5 @ Oversimplified

    I can’t agree more with your words : “It’s unfeasibly unlikely that anybody who’s had that many near death experiences and hurt others and been hurt by them so many times, wouldn’t come to the conclusion that either they alter their behavior or they end up unemployed, friendless or, worse still, dead. It’s even less likely that their outlook on life wouldn’t change, no matter how big their God complex.” And more to a genius like GH is. That make incredible to me “The Mantra”, and unacceptable his creator stubbornness .

    A clever person may know that that one can change still remaining the same in the most part. So no one want a Doctor Who regeneration in GH ( great point of yours, by the way). But I personally think exhausting and frustrating what they’ve done, that you’ve defined so well: “I get that they need some sort of conflict, but the fact that House is as immovable as a piece of concrete means that they keep on going over the same ground over and over again, e.g. we’ll be getting a re-make of the Hilson reunion from season 5. Evidently Wilson doesn’t change either”. Next October 4th we’ll comment!!

    And about your last paragraph, I subscribe it entirely. I find such pessimistic and hopeless vision of life , inappropriate to a white millionaire as you say, hard to be so “religiously” followed in this global crisis world as was in the beginning when he creates GH and [H]. And after eight years of no land’s journey, I personally need to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. On the contrary, I think one only [H] possible ending: GH own death.

  • BrokenLeg

    I hardly and enthusiastically recommend you to read both Nickel’s #103 & #104 posts in the thread TV Preview: House, M.D. – Season Eight Premiere “Twenty Vicodin” – Comments Page 3 of this site!!!!!!! Wise words!!

  • dago

    That is the rant I always wated to make.It excactely decribes my feeling.How could tbe so ignorant?But on the other hand I think House is extremely guarded concerning his true and inner self that it really would take an effort to really know him.If you call someone a friedn like Cuddy and Wilson do ( did) you should be able to detect the3 personality that lies hidden beneath layers upon layers of guardedness.I missed this.To me it only shoes that their friendship might me on a superficial level and is not really helping the cause.On the contrary : It served in the end the bid bang.

  • Action Kate

    ← does the happy dance over Thirteen leaving

    ← does the happy dance over House and Wilson making up (Wilson spine + House angst = Awesome sauce. Those two are made for each other. Nobody will ever love House more than Wilson does. And vice-versa.)

    ← sits back down on the couch to watch the season with a wary eye

  • housemaniac

    @5 Oversimplified: I very much like your Doyle analogy. Another analogy might be to Sherlock Holmes himself, after whom House is modeled. Holmes, as set in his ways (and as arrogant) as any man, remains an addict and without a romantic partner, to name but two major ways in which he does not change. I wonder if DS might not be too caught up in the Holmesian House? After all, Jeremy Brett, my favorite interpreter of Holmes, insisted that Holmes give up his drug addictions (except for tobacco!) after learning that many children were big fans of his Holmes character.

  • Oversimplified

    @10 Housemaniac

    I grew up with the Jeremy Brett version so he’s who I picture whenever I think of Holmes. Perfect casting there.

    I think you’re touching on a major problem that Shore has when he’s deciding what the show is and what he’s trying to do with it. Doyle’s character was first and foremost about the puzzle, and in many ways you weren’t meant to identify with him. He’s sort of a curiosity you can admire, but won’t necessarily understand and that was enough because the cases he investigates are hugely interesting and infinitely varied. I think this is the difference between something that investigates creatively the criminal versus the medical. With the former the crime can take place anywhere against anyone and lead anywhere, whereas with latter the scope just isn’t the same. The medical does however lend itself to opening up the emotional inner life of the characters more easily, and I’m glad they went there with House. Aside from anything else it would be an incredible waste of an amazingly emotive actor.

    This is one of the things that bothers me about them going ‘Back to Basics’ and re-focusing on the procedural part of the formula, rather than continuing with the character study. It does feel like a rather pointless attempt to throw everything back in ‘Pandora’s Box’ and forget a lot of things happened. Why not use them? Pick at the scab, so to speak. You have Hugh Laurie. For God’s sake use him and not just for ferret rustling or whatever they have planned for his antics with Wilson this season.

    As a side note I’d love to know what Doyle would have thought about House, both as a medical professional and as someone who was openly pro-feminist. I’m guessing not happy with the association, especially after recent events.