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House: The Mystery of “Thunder Roadtrip”

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Prior to the airing of House‘s Season 7 premiere, there was much speculation as to what sort of episode might be in store when September rolled around. The last scene of the season six finale had Cuddy revealing her love for a distraught House, who had just lost a patient. Fans wondered what would happen next.

Over the summer, a slew of photos inundated the House fansites: photos of House and Cuddy on the beach, kissing and cuddling, like two lovestruck teenagers playing hooky from school. Other photos surfaced of the couple lingering outside a nightclub and a restaurant. From the presence of cameras, crew and the episode’s writer, Doris Egan, in these photos, it was obvious these were location shoots.

The title of the episode was leaked: “Thunder Roadtrip”. It sounded intriguing, forbidding, romantic! Greg Yaitanes, the House director, producer and Twitter liaison constantly shot down the notion that such an episode had been filmed. “What about those photos?” he was asked. “They’re fake,” he replied. “Like the Yeti.”

Can you say Gaslight? Who was really crazy here? The fans had the evidence but were being told it was all fake, done to throw them off the scent as to how the real episode would pan out. The question was, why would a show with a budget to meet, a cast and crew to pay and episodes to create use precious studio time just to fool the fanbase?

Speculation was “Thunder Roadtrip” didn’t work as an episode and Egan was forced to go back and rework the script. Her revamped script became the season seven opener entitled “Now What?”

Recently a script surfaced, which is supposedly a draft of the original “Thunder Roadtrip”. From the looks of it, it probably is. Either that or an extremely conniving someone has done an excellent job speculating how “Roadtrip” was supposed to play out.

“Roadtrip” begins in much the same fashion as “Now What?”. House and Cuddy have taken the first steps toward becoming a couple. But where their “skip day” in “Now What?” takes place entirely in House’s apartment, “Thunder Roadtrip” takes them away from the familiar and out on adventure of discovery and romance in the wilds of New Jersey. House’s goal is to gift Cuddy with a perfect day, making up for four ways he wronged her over the years. It is very Housian and very good.

Along the way, he breaks into an upscale restaurant (having procured the alarm code from the sous-chef at his cooking class) and cooks Cuddy a gourmet meal. He brings her to a bell tower (since the Eiffel Tower is too far for them to travel, for now), where they get sloshed and enjoy a musical interlude. They take a trip to the beach, where House attempts to teach Cuddy how to drive his cycle in the beach parking lot, without much success. From there it’s off to a special Bruce Springsteen club date, where House’s dealings with scalpers and ripoff artists don’t end well, and he fails in his efforts to get Cuddy to see The Boss.

Their adventures revolve around the same b-story as in “Now What?” The hospital neurosurgeon, Dr. Richardson, falls ill, leaving Princeton-Plainsboro without coverage in that department. Failure to get him well could cause the hospital to lose their Trauma Center 1 accreditation. As in “Now What?” House is aware of the problem and does his best to keep it from Cuddy while attempting to help his colleagues over the phone when he can.

In the end, the couple are still somewhat tentative about where this relationship might lead but both want very much to give it a chance.

My verdict? “Now What?” is the better, more realistic piece of work. It has subtlety, and the “skip day” in the apartment feels natural and comfortable, with House and Cuddy enjoying their time in their own little world. I do like the very Housian way House tries to give Cuddy her perfect day in “Roadtrip” and his reasons behind it. But if the script is indeed real, I’m pleased Egan re-wrote it. Perhaps she is too if “Roadtrip” is not the Yeti Yaitanes claims it is.

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About Mindy Peterman

  • Liz

    “Now what” was an awful epsiode for every House fan who is not a Huddy fan, and believe it or not, there are many, many of these fans (still) left out there. So who cares for this road trip thing, it would have only made things worse imo.

  • TR

    Now What was a fantastic and intense adventure for House and Cuddy’s start as a couple, but after seeing how Thunder Roadtrip would have been, I have to say that TPTB chose wrong with this one. As much as i loved this season’s opening, TR would have won big time. Such a Houseian expression of feelings would melt the coldest icebergs out there that don’t want to see the beauty that House makes with Cuddy. Just sayin… I wish TPTB stop making a fool of themselves by trying to convince the fans that it was all a “hallucination” and just find a way to show us that stuff. They shouldn’t waste a perfectly good episode just for nothing.

  • Brighid45

    I’m not a Huddy fan by any stretch, but I’ve read the script and find it more belilevable than “Now What?” It’s a little out there in some ways, but in “Thunder Roadtrip” we get a more realistic look at how House and Cuddy might be able to sustain and strengthen each other. While I’d much rather have House find someone else, this script could have made a good case for Huddy. Unfortunately it was too upbeat and positive (and it got leaked well before the premiere apparently) so–no way! Angst is all House is ever destined to have in his life, so we’ll be condemned to watching him either turn into Cuddy’s lapdog or endure endless rounds of misery once she dumps him.

  • Shelly

    “Now What?” was unwatchable drivel. Doris’ original episode sounds MUCH better, especially given that her previous “road trip” episodes (“Son of Coma Guy,” and “Birthmarks” are two of the absolute BEST of House. It just reinforces my feel that David Shore and Co. have completely jumped the shark and trashed a once-great show this season. House now is virtually unwatchable.

  • Bette

    Overall, I prefer “TR”. “NW” probably wins if only because House gets to say “I love you”. Nevertheless, both were enjoyable. I hope we get to see it someday.

  • Orange450

    Mindy, thank you so much for this delightful little peek at “the episode that never was”! Along with most of the fanbase, I enjoyed Now What. But from your description, it sounds like “Thunder Roadtrip” would have been a tremendous amount of fun as well.

    I really appreciate your “behind the scenes” offerings – they add so much additional texture to my Housian experience :)

  • Derdriui

    Meh. One load of crap for another load of crap. Hate to say it and I never though it’d come to this (… what? it used to be so good) but we’re 13 episodes into the shitefest. Might be time to admit the show’s gone and move on. Except for the teenage Huddy fans, they can keep living out their superwoman and daddy fantasy.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/mindy-peterman/ Mindy

    Orange450: Thanks! “Roadtrip” would have been fun and I wish TPTB could find a way to use that footage. Still, I’m glad they aired “Now What?” instead.

  • Jen409

    You misquoted GY on his yeti comment. He wasn’t talking about the unused beach pictures or other scrapped scenes of the S7 premier when he said that; instead he was referring to “HuLi” when he said it “does not exist, like the yeti” after he was questioned about that, which is entirely different.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/mindy-peterman/ Mindy

    Jen409: During a Twitter Q&A, he actually did refer to the Yeti when asked about the beach pictures. “This footage never existed, just like teh (sic) Yeti”, is what he said.

  • Justyne

    Does anyone know where I would be able to read the script for Thunder Roadtrip? I can’t find it anywhere! Thanks in advance! :)

  • flatpickluvr

    I thought Now What was not only unbelievable, but boring. Boring. It was so boring I actually deleted it from my DVR and I never delete House episodes. The Thunder Roadtrip footage did exist…

  • Jen409

    Mindy, I stand corrected then. It’s just that every time I tried to look up this “yeti” comment by GY regarding the “Thunder Roadtrip” beach pictures, all I could ever find was the one where he was denouncing the plausibility of the “HuLi” crap, in which he used that same word apparently.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/mindy-peterman Mindy Peterman

    Jen409: No problem. With all the GY tweets flying around, it was easy to miss. In any case, he’s going to explain those beach pictures in the Season 7 DVD set coming out in August.

  • pat

    Thank goodness this never came about,Now What was awful enough with the Huddy nonsense TG for Wilson (Houses real love).The I love you was NOT sincere and just ridiculous.If you have to beg a guy to say it whats the point.

  • Amy

    Yes,Pat! I just hope it’s not take long time from Wilson to die,so House can go to Cuddy. Now he is free man.Free from TPTB and all this whore-bromanse crapy things))