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InHouse: “Family Practice”

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Hello and welcome back to App’s Eye View. We here in the Northeast have just about finished digging our way out of the snow. And it was very exciting to see that our deck was still in one piece when the white stuff melted! This week we were delayed in bringing you a recap of the app for a variety of reasons, not the least being that we were weary from all that shoveling. But here we are to give you the lowdown on this week’s “Family Practice” edition of InHouse.

The Dark Room features some gaw-jus photos of the upscale clothing boutique Cuddy visited with her mom and sister at the beginning of the episode. There are shiny black mannequins, jewelry, chandeliers and gilt edge mirrors juxtaposed with shots of the crew in their khaki shorts,jeans and House hoodies. Ah, the glamorous behind the scenes world of television!

Did you think it was easy playing a corpse? Certainly not. You need to look just so on that steel table in Princeton Plainsboro’s morgue.  House makeup maven Dalia Doktor has got that covered. We see her standing over the ‘corpse’, adjusting his head so it rests perfectly at the head of the table. The crew member to Doktor’s right is looking somewhat uncomfortable, as if he can’t wait to move on to the next phase of this operation. We don’t know if we can blame him for that. However, the presence of Hugh Laurie and Jesse Spencer in the next shot has brightened this crew member’s mood substantially. He stands behind them smiling, while the actor playing the corpse has his eyes closed, really getting into the part.

In the hotel room scene, Peter Jacobson is shown lifting cartons with Omar Epps with the camera man looking on. Next, director Miguel Sapochnik gives direction to Jacobson and Jennifer Crystal (who plays Rachel Taub). Then it’s off to a relaxed moment in Cuddy’s office where Lisa Edelstein is looking somewhat pensive behind Cuddy’s desk. Hugh Laurie, still in House mode, sits opposite her, resting his feet on her desk.

Outside the Visitors Lounge of the hospital, Peter Jacobson’s bloody, broken nose is being created by Dalia Doktor. And though there might be hard feelings between their characters, Jacobson and Michael Gladis bear each other no ill will as they chat between takes. More fun is had by all as Jacobson is shown lying on the bathroom floor, his nose a bloody mess after Gladis’s character, Jamie, cracked Taub’s face against the sink. It’s all in a day’s work for these guys.

In the Media Room, get ready for a real treat: an interview with Candice Bergen, who plays Cuddy’s mom, Arlene. She is smiling and relaxed as she talks about her experience playing the role. “Arlene is a very nicely written character,” she says. “There’s great humor that has sort of been wedged into Arlene. [She] is born a gentile but she converts to Judaism when she marries Cuddy’s father. Then she becomes more Jewish than any Jew, and speaks Yiddish.” In her first episode on the show, Bergen got to call someone a schmendrick (the Yiddish word for ‘stupid person’). “I get to fling around little Yiddish-isms, which is fun,” she enthuses before extolling the virtues of her character. “Arlene just tells is like she sees it. She’s funny, she’s straight-talking, smart, vaguely insulting. But she’s honest and she loves her daughters”.

Bergen goes on to describe the relationship between her character and Cuddy. “Arlene and Cuddy have a sort of a semi-confrontational relationship. Arlene has always asked a lot of Cuddy because, I think, Arlene sees that Cuddy has the intelligence and the drive and the ambition to do more than her sister and more than Arlene. So she pushes Cuddy. And Cuddy doesn’t feel that she ever quite gets Arlene’s approval. But underneath it all they both love each other very much”.

The fact that House is forced to deal with Arlene because of his desire to make his relationship with Cuddy work is another stone in the road even though Bergen does say that Arlene and House are a great match. “Arlene gives as much as she gets, and they take each other on from time to time”. She goes on to say that Arlene is not happy about House as a choice for Cuddy to have made. “He’s surly, he doesn’t want to commit and he’s slovenly”. But after House and Cuddy’s combined expert medical judgment save her life she becomes “understandably and hopefully a fan”.

Bergen is definitely a fan of the House set. “It’s a lovely set to be on,” she says with a smile as she reminisces. “I was on the Fox lot for the first time in 1965. So I go back a bit. But it’s great. It’s a very welcoming, very nice show to be part of”.

We’re glad to hear that Ms. Bergen had a great experience working on House, and hope she’ll return.

In part two of the Media Room we get a continuation of the Omar Epps/Amber Tamblyn fan Q & A from last week. Here’s the transcript:

What is your favorite episode?

Epps: That’s a hard question.

Tamblyn: You can say “the last thirteen that I’ve made”.

Epps: That’s it. Okay.

Tamblyn: I would like to answer your question (she turns to Epps). I’ll say one of my favorite episodes is the scenes you had with your father when you were about to die (she’s referring to the episode Euphoria Part 2). Your father came. You prayed together. It was heartbreaking. I loved that.

What do you think your character should do to make herself stand out?

Tamblyn: Oh, my gosh. I feel like she stands out like a sore thumb. She has no friends on the team, she’s super awkward. I mean…maybe if I wore a tiara?

What’s it like to play such a serious and driven character against the backdrop of a lunatic like House?

Epps: The contrast is what makes it fun, to be honest. The natural flow of the comedy in the show, I think, is what keeps it fresh for us.

How much do you socialize with your castmates off the set?

Tamblyn: I think a good amount. Peter I have a restraining order against. That’s not possible. Hugh I try not to annoy with emails but if I find a very funny cat video I will send it to him. I’m not afraid for that backlash.

What would you rather do in an episode: save a patient’s life or throw a pie in House’s face?

Epps: I think Foreman would love nothing better than to save a patient’s life while throwing a pie in House’s face.

Do you ever want to come up with your own smart-alecky comments to Dr. House?

Epps: Not really because they’d just be like (Epps comment is bleeped out).

House writer/co-executive producer Peter Blake joins us in the Writers Room this time around and gives us a bit of insight into the creation of the “Family Practice” episode. A few months ago, while trying to figure out what his next episode would be, he considered three ideas he had lying around. “There was an article I’d read about people who can’t recognize sarcasm. I thought that would be a cool way for House to solve a case because so much of what he says is ironic or sarcastic. I also had a story I wanted to do about a patient who was a hypochondriac. I also wanted a patient to fire House and then for House to not accept his firing”. He had these three ideas and none of them made up a full episode, which is when he realized he could combine them.

When he wrote up the idea and presented it to producer Russ Friend, Friend pointed out that they had had a hypochondriac as a patient-two episodes prior to the one Blake was writing. “It was Cuddy’s mom,” Blake says. “Then I thought, you know what? This would make a much more powerful episode, if she was the patient”. When he wrote it, the episode became a lot more serious than he had originally thought it was going to be. “Not only because it was Cuddy’s mom as the patient,” he explains, “which obviously has enormous consequences. But also because if doctors are being active in doing things behind a patient’s back, it’s incredibly dangerous and has a lot of moral dilemmas”.

Blake married this story to another of his where one of the doctors is acting as a consultant and finds something that could be a bleed in a brain of a patient he is not really treating. “That became the Taub story”.

He reveals that it was Miguel Sapochnick, the episode’s director along with Tony Gaudioz, the director of photography on the episode, who came up with a “really cool look and color scheme that tracks the emotional state of the characters and where the story is”.

“The way Miguel described it was: ‘Busby Berkley musical to film noir to hand held documentary style, back to Busby Berkley. So keep an eye out for that.”

Blake finishes up by saying that the guest cast in this episode is “my favorite guest cast I’ve ever had for an episode. Not only did we have Candice Bergen, who’s fantastic as Cuddy’s mom, but we’re introducing Paula Marshall as Cuddy’s sister in this episode, and Michael Gladis who played Kinsey on Mad Men plays Taub’s brother-in-law”.

In the Houseisms section we are given six writers picks for the “Family Practice” episode. Our favorite is:
“Not according to the recent Supreme Court case of Bite versus Me”.

And finally, in the Music Room we are given iTunes links to two songs used in the episode: “Mr. Sandman” by Chordettes (song used in the teaser), and “The Light” by Mason Jennings (end song).

Please join us next week for another edition of App’s Eye View when we’ll do a recap of the episode “You Must Remember This”.

The InHouse app is available for your iPod, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. You can also access content online here.

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About Mindy Peterman