“Help Me”, this week’s season finale of House, was one of the most ambitious and compelling episodes in the show’s six-year history. To recreate the aftermath of a crane collapse in Trenton, New Jersey was a major undertaking but director Greg Yaitanes was up to the challenge. No stranger to the cinematic possibilities of episodic television (his direction of the Season Four episode “House’s Head”, with its harrowing bus accident scenes, won him an Emmy), he has proven once again how the small screen has big screen possibilities-in the right hands.
In “Behind the Scenes With Greg Yaitanes”, this week’s Media Room offering, the director demystifies some of the magic behind his work in this episode. His comments are illustrated with footage of the filming, fascinating stuff the audience does not usually get to see. “The smallest scenes are the most exciting to direct,” Mr. Yaitanes explains. “Despite the fact that the episode is so big in scope, staging of the outside scenes are as intimate as the inside scenes. Actors are always in close proximity to each other.” He goes on to say that the bigness of the episode must be supported with great storytelling and great character moments, “or else it’s ‘who cares?’”
A good portion of the episode takes place in what is supposed to be a rubble and debris filled parking garage — The Hole, as Mr.Yaitanes calls it. In The Hole, there were only eighteen inches in which the actors and crew could move around. A camera system was used which was very compact so the sets could be as realistic as possible. “This intimacy allows the audience to get to know these characters better and get sucked into their heartbreak,” Mr. Yaitanes says. And he speaks the truth; emotions run high. The characters’ situations are distressing and believable. Under Mr. Yaitanes’ direction these are powerful scenes.
He goes on to say that after an intense few days in The Hole, filming out in the open again was like a breath of fresh air. Everyone on the set kept riffing to keep the atmosphere light. And it is obvious from this footage that the cast and crew felt good about what they were doing.
The Dark Room’s entry this week is equally as fascinating: twenty-five behind the scenes stills, which include a display model of the crane wreck, and shots of the building’s ruined exterior and interior. The carnage looks entirely too real, which, I suppose, is the point. Firemen, accident victims, and a slew of other extras are shown between shots. Photos of Hugh Laurie and Greg Yaitanes preparing to film scenes are also part of this mix.
Three entries make up the House-ism section of the app this week: three short lines that added a necessary touch of humor to offset the dour subject matter of this week’s show.
The big disappointment is that there is no Writers Room entry this week. Executive Producer Russel Friend was supposed to offer his insights but the footage was a no-show. Perhaps we will see this at a later date.
Next week InHouse will run the first installment of the Nurse Jeffrey Appisodes. From the dancing, smirking Jeffrey we see in the trailers, this looks like it could be extraordinarily silly. But…it could be fun too. We’ll see.
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