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TV Review: House, MD – “No More Mr. Nice Guy”

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Have you ever known someone who was too nice to be true? They annoy you when you realize that you haven’t a prayer to ever be quite that good, until you discover that their niceness makes you a better person. At least that’s what the wife of this week’s “nice” patient believes. Is this a key to why House seems almost desperate to hang onto his friendship with Wilson? Wilson is House’s tie to humanity and if he’s lost then so is House’s humanity — completely. Or maybe I’m reaching for something not there in this played-for-fun episode of House, “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”

“No More Mr. Nice Guy” was a lot of fun, but slightly disappointing (to me anyway) after such a long, long dry spell — and with only three more episodes to go for the season. I'm not blaming the writers or the other powers that be. Maybe my expectations were way too high after a season already peppered with fun and hi-jinks, and without one episode to provide a real emotional punch in the gut. As a friend pointed out to me this morning after watching the House marathon on USA Network yesterday, there is a stark contrast between the ethical questions and emotional explorations of the marathon episodes (“Detox,” “Control,” “Role Model,” and “Babies and Bathwater,” for example) and the lighter, more humorous tone of this season. She asked me whether had I not already been so invested in the series and in the character of House the series would have taken such a hold on me. And I'm not sure. Then again, I'm all about the angst and torment. (Sick, huh?)

Maybe the lightness is intentional; maybe House torn from his usual symbiotic relationship with Wilson is a House of ennui; of just simply being an ass. The House of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” really doesn’t care. Not about the patient, or really even about the diagnosis. He really only cares about playing mind games with his team and playing territorial games with Amber and Wilson. He’s not the troubled intellectual (who was apparent even in the hilarious season two episode “Distractions”), nor the reluctant healer (despite being in withdrawal and desperately in pain) of season three’s “Merry Little Christmas.” Nor the deeply compassionate (despite himself) man who wants to help a patient live a “normal” life (season three’s “Half-Wit”).

On the other hand, maybe House's territorial games are his desperate bid to hold onto his only human tie, and the prospect of losing it frightens him a bit. His territorial games weren't nasty, and his willingness to compromise regarding Wilson was interesting in a guy who (almost) never does. Is House really trying to be "nice" about Amber?

I have to admit that I was momentarily taken in by House’s devastated expression when his team told him that he had neurosyphilis. I thought he really had it — and that he was stunned by the news of it. (Although I knew it couldn't be that straightforward.) That's an expression that we had only (as viewers) witnessed at moments of anguish or great pain — when House is really hurting or worried. And here it was simply a manipulation; an act.

I felt a bit cheated because of that. House's humanity is so hidden, so concealed, that we need those to find clues of it within House’s (and Hugh Laurie's) expressive eyes. If they are not telling the truth (or not reliably so), House’s humanity is then even more suspect. (Again, on the other hand, as another friend pointed out, maybe there was truth in his reaction to the "news" of his syphilis. Was House, indeed, hurt that his team would invade his privacy, picking him apart like a lab rat? Have to think about that one.)

The other thing that bothered me about this episode is that a year ago, we learned that House doesn’t have syphilis. In “Half-Wit,” he switched blood vials to qualify for a drug trial. The team, in trying to help House, analyzed what they thought was his blood only to discover that it tested positive for syphilis. So, at the very least, Cameron, Chase, and Foreman should have known that he does not have syphilis. I'm not usually one to nitpick, but (to me) it was an unnecessary re-tread.

If I sound like I didn’t like the episode, that’s not really true. There was much to enjoy in "No More Mr. Nice Guy." I liked seeing House try to reach out to others to compensate for Wilson. That he grabbed onto that socialization through a bowling date with Chase was quite delightful. (And watching Chase try to have a "normal" guy conversation with House was very, very funny and well done.) And despite the fact that I miss the quieter, more reflective House, he has come a long way since "Half-Wit," when he so tentatively put his hand on the pub's door handle, contemplating the mere act of entering.

I also very much liked the way they handled the House-Wilson-Amber triangle; Wilson seems pleased at all the fuss being made over his affections. In his own way, Wilson is far from being "nice," letting House and Amber fight like divorced parents over visitation rights.

House is clearly trying to work out and to accept Wilson’s relationship with Amber. He may not be successful, but at least he’s trying. That he has brought Cuddy in as an arbitrator was a stroke of genius — and that he allows her to make the rulings and try (sort of ) to adhere to them is a testament to House’s respect for Cuddy’s skills. Nice touch, too, with House getting Wilson drunk while he drinks only coffee to cause trouble with Amber. Wilson is such a cheap drunk!

There is a moment in the episode when House is playing some blues on his piano, waiting anxiously for Wilson. He is clearly on edge and when there is a knock on his door, House fairly jumps out of his seat and lunges (as much as he can) to the door, only to find the Jehovah’s Witness guy there — much to House’s disappointment. That, more than any other moment in the episode, signaled just how much, despite the snark and silliness, House misses his old relationship with Wilson. And maybe how much he needs it. It's a brief moment, but it's telling.

And what is House telling Cuddy in his performance review? I think we need to listen closely to House’s performance review of his boss — beyond the snark — to what he actually said. “You want to have someone jump you and tell you ‘I love you;’ you run away from what you need, you have no idea of what you want. Your accomplishments make you proud; but you are still miserable.” What do we take away from that? What clues? In my humble opinion, House is baring his own feelings to Cuddy; telling her that she needs him, and doesn’t (yet) realize that she wants him. House made two suggestions in casual conversation that Cuddy is in his thoughts. Has Wilson’s new-found relationship spurred something in House? Time will tell. (Okay, fine. I confess to being a bit of a Cuddy-House "shipper." There. I've said it.)

I am really looking forward to next week and then the big two-part finale (which looks awesome!). And remember coming up mid-May, just before the season finale — my interview with House executive producers/writers Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend. I suppose if any two writers will plow the depths of House's emotional life, it is those two writers, who have given us "Skin Deep," "Cane and Able," and "Fetal Position." So, feel free to contribute questions for them in the comment section!

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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.
  • marykir

    This felt to me like an episode written for “the fans” –
    meta about the strike? check.
    House/Wilson scene? check.
    Amber? check.
    musical House? check.
    House/Cameron innuendo? check.
    House/Cuddy innuendo? check.
    House/Chase scene? check.
    House/Cameron scene? check.
    Foreman taken down a peg? check.
    more Kutner? check.
    13 and Taub in the background? check.

    about the only thing missing was ROF and House going for a motorcycle ride… oh, and any serious attention to those philosophical/ethical issues David Shore says are the heart of the show :)

  • hl_lover

    Barb,
    I had commented elsewhere that it must have bothered House to have his team consider him ‘sick’ because he is an outlier on the Bell curve of niceness.
    He may not have known that Kutner would go searching for a blood sample (it could have been the same blood used in “Half Wit”), so the whole team announcing to him that he had syphilis and handing him a bottle of penicillin pills did come as a sad shock to him. He however decided to take it and ‘run with it’, using it to his advantage and turning the screws back onto his team. I’m just guessing here, of course. Nothing on this show is ever fully clear as to motives, and sometimes it’s as infuriating as it is intriguing to watch.

    The thought did cross my mind that House indeed does have neurosyphilis, but he is too afraid to treat it for fear of it ‘changing’ him, therefore losing what is most precious to him, his reasoning abilities, the thing that sets him apart from most people. What does anyone else think of this idea?

    Oh, and lovely review, as always, Barbara!

  • hl_lover

    marykir, I know you are being facetious and humorous, but you should put yourself in David Shore’s shoes for a sec and see if you could be capable of writing an episode of House that simultaneously follows what you feel is best, but at the same time not alienate too much of the various factors of the House fandom, given the fact that this is a Top Ten show and you would like to keep it that way.
    I’m sure you are referring to his recent interview with Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Times, and he admits to the extreme difficulty of finding this balance, and I admire the man for his efforts.

  • marykir

    hl_lover, I am absolutely serious. I thought the episode pandered to the fandom. It seemed to try to be all things to all people, and ended up being much less than the sum of its parts.

    I personally don’t care what stories DS and the writing team come up with, as long as they feel passionate about those stories and tell them with conviction. I didn’t get that sense from this episode.

  • Clare

    TOO MANY PEOPLE!Personally, I think the show has suffered due to the abundance of cast members. I love the old team, but they really need to move on. Foreman is really starting to get on my nerves. Why does he think he’s the boss? And Taub really put him in his place:) Chase… the first thing that came to mind when I saw the bowling scene was “No way would House hang out with Chase!” I mean c’mon! Chase was such a little punk especially in season one! I think the writers, directors, and/or producers are wasting time showing these little segments with the old team. Did anyone notice how little we saw the patient this week? If not, watch an episode from an earlier season and compare. Finally, Cameron might as well re-join the team. House is constantly in the ER and Cameron has been participating in differential diagnoses quite a bit. I really like Cameron–she balanced out the team. 13 is too… mysterious (for lack of a better word). Please give her a real name, PLEASE! I have a few more grievances, but I won’t bore anyone reading this any further.
    One last thing: Amber needs to go, like, now.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Marykir, I have to agree with you on this. I keep thinking back to the first episode I watched (and it wasn’t in the long run a favorite). It was “Cursed” back in season one. House was snarky and cynical. But his bite was underlain by a depth that was just “there.” Not expressed, not made “cute.” Just part of House. Who he was and what he was (and still is).

    Had this episode (which I actually liked better than “Cursed” on the whole) been the first one I’d seen, I would not have been grabbed so viscerally by this bitter, melancholy but essentially moral character. I thougth it was fun and lacked depth (maybe, as you say, passion). I liked it, but it was cotton candy (which I love, but has no substance).

    HL_L, you may indeed be right on this. I do think House might be sad at what his team think, but he did say to Wilson that he had set it up earlier “because they would be testing his blood at some time for something.” And maybe that’s House’s way of keeping his privacy…private (we do know how private a person House can be, for all of his bluster.)

    Clare–big cast, too little time on House himself. sigh. They will need to do something since this is not an ensemble show. Good question for the writers–do they think that writing for a big cast is to the detriment of the exploration of House’s character–or do they want to slow that down (since there are probably three more seasons to cover?)

  • Mary

    hl_lover: I used to work in long-term care and have seen a patient die of tertiary stage syphilis. Untreated syphilis is a horrific way to die. As a physician, House would know that, and know that IF he had that disease and it went untreated, that his much-prized rationality will be the first thing he’ll lose.

    I’m just so happy to have new “House” to geek on that I think I’ll just sit back and watch others comment on this episode. My speculation is that the series finale will mean the loss of one or two of the ducklings, just to keep us all off balance.

  • slychipmunk

    Three more seasons??? I sure hope so.

  • slychipmunk

    Three more seasons??? I sure hope so.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Oh, slychipmunk–

    I’m just speculating! I have no idea how many more seasons there will or will not be!

  • Boffle

    Thanks for the review Barbara. I agree that Wilson was far from nice. In fact he was a manipulative bastard and not for the first time, not that I don’t like Wilson, but he absolutely has gotten away with murder since day 1 and I’d love to see this game with House and Amber come crashing down on him (I know I’m probably a minority of one, but there it is.)

    I still haven’t rewatched this one, which I think I probably need to do since it was so packed with content. I agree with markir and thought it ironic that such an irreverent show was so PC in regards to the various segments of the fanbase you detailed. They are never going to please us all, so writing what they want with passion and conviction: absolutely the only way to go!

    Also, I think the writer’s strike put the writers in the uncomfortable position of catching us up in one or two or four episodes on where they were planning to get to in twelve, so my guess is that’s some of the reason it seemed all over the map. Lots of questions and relationships were put in play at the beginning of the season and I applaud TPTB for attempting to get some kind of resolution for S4.

    That said, I think House needs to get back to the core of House-centered ethical dilemmas soon. That’s their wheelhouse as Shore stated in the Ryan interview, and all this other stuff, though fun, is really not the point.

    So where are they going with all this? I think the purpose of this episode was to set the endgame in play: start to derail Wilson/Amber; put House at risk in some severe way (perhaps after a fakeout with the syphilis scare); target the Huddy not as a joke, but as a real possibility; break up the new team and maybe even the old team (we could end up with Foreman plus Kutner and/or even 13: I think Taub will go first) while Cameron and Chase pop in and out unpredictably.

    And then, will those glorious writers give their spectacular cast a story line that goes to the heart of the questions that House raises better than any other show: how do you do the right thing? how do you know who to believe? what is real and what is a lie? what does it mean to be a good person? And of course, is it better to be the person saving lives without caring for the people personally or caring for the people as individuals and missing the flaws that tell the underlying, unpleasant truths of human nature that lead people to lie and sometimes destroy themselves?

    House is a diamond of a character being portrayed by a brave, immensely talented actor who has shown great trust in his writers: I do hope that they continue to deserve both the character and the actor.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Boffle,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that Wilson has been a manipultive dude since season one–Detox immediately comes to mind. He was behind House’s crash and burn in Season three as well.

    So where are they going with all this? I think the purpose of this episode was to set the endgame in play: start to derail Wilson/Amber; put House at risk in some severe way (perhaps after a fakeout with the syphilis scare); target the Huddy not as a joke, but as a real possibility; break up the new team and maybe even the old team (we could end up with Foreman plus Kutner and/or even 13: I think Taub will go first) while Cameron and Chase pop in and out unpredictably.

    And then, will those glorious writers give their spectacular cast a story line that goes to the heart of the questions that House raises better than any other show: how do you do the right thing? how do you know who to believe? what is real and what is a lie? what does it mean to be a good person?

    You set up some nice possibilities, and I hope this is the beginning of that drive to the finale. What are they setting up? Will Amber win and completely take House out of Wilson’s orbit? And what will that do to House? Does that have some bearing on what’s going to happen in the finale? Why House was riding the bus?

    The questions that House asks week by week need to become the focus of the show again as the writers get their bearing and into season five.

  • Clarice

    Good review. House is better than anything else on television. But, I had just watched part of the marathon and seen those critical moments when all the hurt comes into HL’s expressive eyes providing about half of the storyline without words. I have missed those this season.

    But, we shall see how the writers head for the Season 4 endgame. I, for one, like Kutner and think he is a great new character who may have almost as many layers as House. The bowling scene was particularly funny. Thanks again for getting us through the dry spell with your wonderful articles, episode guides, and essays.

  • Boffle

    What are they setting up? Will Amber win and completely take House out of Wilson’s orbit? And what will that do to House? Does that have some bearing on what’s going to happen in the finale? Why House was riding the bus?

    Well, I’m mostly not spoiled but there do seem to be some directions being established if you go by the rules of the show: 1) everybody lies and 2) people don’t change. So if Amber’s downfall is that she can’t accept defeat, she has to be right, and she will do anything to win, then, especially under the stress of possibly losing the one person who has given her both love and respect, and the added stress of losing him because of the interference of the man who recently handed her a devastating rejection, she will revert to her basic (and base) nature. She will live up to her sobriquet and cut House’s throat (metaphorically, of course) and win, but in winning she will also lose. It would be an amazing twist if she does in fact break the House/Wilson friendship, but the doing of that breaks up her and Wilson as well.

    Now losing Wilson’s friendship might send him to Cuddy for solace and that likely wouldn’t last into the light of day, though I don’t think it would fundamentally change their relationship which is more about power and affection than sex anyway. So, it seems that with the human relationships on the show, House is the cue ball ever ricocheting from side to side and never, um, finding a home.

    House sees more, knows more and maybe even feels more deeply, though not in the same way as the other folks on the show. Trying to figure out what makes him tick and watching how he uses his creativity in ways that are both awful and awesome is so compelling (thank you, Hugh Laurie). I’m hoping to see this explored in some different way in the finale and expect to be surprised (though I suppose the one takes the mickey out of the other?).

    The bus? Maybe House was too drunk to drive; maybe he thought he saw someone with fatal symptoms and followed them onto the bus; maybe he’s hallucinating the whole bus crash and it didn’t really happen outside his imagination. After all, time is not a rigid construct!

    Anyway, sorry for the long posts, but I’m giddy with delight at having new House episodes to chew on.

  • pacemaker

    This is the third site I have come across today(yes, I am obsessed) with whispers of one of the new ducklings leaving the team. Am I missing something??? Or is this all speculation?

  • hl_lover

    Mary, I am knowledgeable about tertiary syphilis, so my comment was not made out of ignorance.
    Do not forget that the writers play rather fast and loose with medical fact, understandably so most of the time,as it serves to further the plot in some way. The best example of this, and it has to do with tertiary syphilis, is House benignly accepting Georgia’s decision in Season One to continue untreated, as she enjoyed her pleasant sensations wrought by the spirochete.
    Now, how realistic is that? Georgia is a wonderful character, one of the best patient/clinic characters the series has produced, and her decision and House’s acceptance of it was an excellent demonstration of a Housian interaction with a patient who he actually (almost) liked. Where was his concern about the horrible end that you mention comes to these patients?

    Bringing this back around to the original discussion, and again, factoring the ‘not medically accurate’ aspect of the show’s plot, House treasures his mentation, his specialness greatly, although he seemed willing to possibly sacrifice it in “No Reason”. If there were any indication at all that syphilis could be responsible for his brilliance and even his personality, as it was thought to be the case with the POTW, he *might* not want to take the penicillin and alter himself. (He was willing to risk the ketamine-induced coma, however).

    My rather long-winded point is rather moot, I agree, but to dismiss out-of-hand the idea that House could truly have syphilis isn’t as easy as ‘Oh, it’s not medically possible and House would know better’. Not at least on this show. 😉

    That being said, I wish to make clear that I do not believe it myself, but was only putting the idea forth for consideration and feedback purposes only.

    I do like very much your idea, boffle, about Amber being successful in winning the game but ultimately losing. But, perhaps she wouldn’t care as much about that as the winning part.
    Could the season-ender shocker be the apparent loss of Wilson, either through health reasons or through hatred of House, from PPTH and House’s life.
    Shore did say that we would be surprised, didn’t he? 😉

  • Theronald

    Barbara, as always, excellent excellent :)

    I have one quick question that i havent seen addressed either here or on other websites – why was Cameron dismissing Chase’s questions about sleeping with House? Cameron doesn’t lie. And, whilst not in real life, is still seeing Chase (isnt she?) – yet she couldnt answer the question. Perhaps im reading too much into it, but when House confesses the syphillis is not real to Wilson, Wilson says “are you going to keep screwing”…and house’s reply, “yes.” Now, i first thought that means screwing with the employees about the whole syphillis thing, but now im not so sure. It distracted me the whole episode, and what threw me again is House’s (in my opinion) covert desire for cuddy. But why would Cameron shy away from Chase? Just wondering if u have any input, because i havent seen it discussed yet, and to be honest i hope he isnt secretly seeing Cameron, House and Cuddy r the better couple.

    As always, thanks Barbara, i thoroughly enjoying reading your recaps and thoughts

  • http://www.sweetiethesmartestdog.com sue

    This was the first post-strike episode, and it showed in several ways.

    I don’t think Hugh was mentally back into character. He underacted House. There were many opportunities for snarkiness, and I didn’t see it. He was too even-toned throughout the episode. He mumbled some lines, making it hard to figure out what he was saying. Had there been more extremes in House’s character, the episode would have been more interesting. House’s interaction with the patient was too even-keeled. The best part was Hugh’s reaction to hearing he had syphyllis. Hugh did that masterfully.

    The show was too packed with dialogue. If a loyal viewer cannot absorb what is happening, what does a casual viewer think? In a show that is so smartly written, every word is essential to the story; losing lines interrupts the flow. I still don’t understand the dialogue with Foreman about how House humiliating him would make the new hires respect and fear him.

    It seemed Olivia Wilde was trying harder in this episode. She seemed to be more expressive. They upped her wardrobe. She is still boring and wooden. Maybe the bad reviews on the message boards made a difference.

    Peter Jacobsen can only deliver his lines on way. We were supposed figure out that maybe his wife had cheated on him, and then feel sorry for him. I could not have cared less. It was the same when House found out that he cheated on his wife and left his plastic surgery practice. Go back and watch how he acted those scenes. There is no nuance in his acting.

    An interesting way to compare the new and old teams is to watch the reaction shots. When House delivers a line, they cut away to the team to show their reactions to what House said. The expressions and non-verbal resonses to what House says amplifies the impact for us. The reactions of the four team members this year are almost non-existent, and what there is is not effective.

    It was nice to see some variations in personality in Chase and Cameron in this episode. They had become one-dimensional and boring until now. Unfortunately, Foreman is still bland and like wallpaper . House was using him, and he had virtually no reaction to that. Why should we care if the character doesn’t?

    Kutner is the only character with some color in his acting, but I just don’t care about him.

    The best scene was when House gave Cuddy his evaluation of her. Lisa acted that scene perfectly. The writers nailed the dialogue about Cuddy’s situation. Obviously, House has been thinking about Cuddy. Is he going to rescue the damsel in distress?

    I did not care about the POTW or his wife. The resolution of the case, while clever, did not matter to me.

    There were no high-highs and low-lows in this episode. It was too even all the way through.

  • jena

    nitpicking! hl_lover, house convinces georgia to take her medication by telling her that the brain damage sustained thus far will be permanent.

    anyway, great article as always, barbara. i, too, was disappointed, even though i enjoyed the episode. everything about it was schizoid. it contained the elements that have made house a funny show in the past, which kept me laughing, but it didn’t make up for the fact that i missed the moral and emotional depth that’s made the series so worthwhile and rewarding to watch. once again i was confused and upset by house’s newfound lack of interest in his cases, and how he’s turning into a petty, conniving asshole, rather than a person of great morality and worth who tries very hard to convince the world and himself that he is a petty, conniving asshole. and worst of all was how they dropped the ball on house’s evaluation of cuddy. something could have been made of that, but instead, it was a dim echo of his speech at the end of “humpty dumpty”. my only hope is, as was mentioned above, that the defects of this episode were a direct result of cramming all the storylines neglected during the strike into a single episode.

  • Barbara Barnett

    I think, in a real sense, Clarice is right. With the larger cast, I think what’s been sacrificed is not dialogue or situations, but the “moments” when the subtext becomes clear and we get to peek into House’s head when no one at PPTH is looking. And without that, as she said, a lot of the story is missing (or just even more hidden). Some of us take the time to find it under the dialogue even without the “moments” of unspoken subtext, but many will not, which will re-inforce the notion that the character is all about the jerk and less about “doing the right” thing and telling truth to power.

    If for no other reason than to have back those crucial bits (and I think it’s more that than “angstiness” per se), we need to see the cast reduced to a less-than-ensemble cast number.

    I have one quick question that i havent seen addressed either here or on other websites – why was Cameron dismissing Chase’s questions about sleeping with House?

    thanks for your kind comments theronald 😉
    my take on this is that she didn’t want to discuss it in front of the new team, and truly believes that it’s none of Chase’s business, so she’s not telling (I think we all know that they did not sleep together–again, I think as attracted to her as House is, he believes that theirs would be an age-inappropriate, not to mention incompatible, relationship.)

    Sue–I agree that maybe that actors, HL included were “getting back into it,” and that may have come across.

    This episode certainly has generated a good discussion here! Carry on! And thank you for all of you comments on both the column and the show!

  • hl_lover

    *slaps forehead* So Georgia did take the meds after all? I still feel, however, that the essence of my point still stands.

    After reading several opinions concerning the ‘screwing’ comment from Wilson to House, it only makes sense, then, that, after hearing House declare that he didn’t have syphilis ‘yet’, then logically Wilson is asking House if he would stop screwing prostitutes while he was still ahead of the game. House responds that he will continue being his usual self, ie, taking chances with prostitutes.
    Does this make sense? I certainly don’t see House with Cameron, not at all.

  • Barbara Barnett

    House’s best comment in Poison to Georgia was when he convinced her to take the meds because they wouldn’t stop her “feelings.” He added that he wouldn’t give up her flirting with him (or something like that). She agreed after his words of assurance to her (and very sweet words at that!) i will have to watch NMMNG again for all of these tidbits a bit later this evening!

  • jena

    re the “screwing” comment (since everyone else has weighed in on it, and i want in too), i felt as though the writers did that to tease, rather than to make a point; i think it makes most sense for it to be “screwing with the team”. if house was in any type of relationship, even of the most casual kind, there would be some difference in him; we’ve seen women to whom he’s attracted, even if only physically, affect his behavior throughout the series. and he’s so reticent about absolutely everything that it would make no sense to me if his constant talk about hookers was an accurate reflection of his life. to enlarge upon that, one of the most difficult scenes to watch in the whole series, for me, has to be the end of “distractions”, in which house lets the prostitute into his apartment. he’s obviously ill at ease and ashamed of what he’s about to do, and his demeanor is such that it suggests that his own opinion of himself, never very high, is diminishing with each passing instant. in all it doesn’t look like something he’s accustomed to.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Jena–I agree. I’ll have to watch the scene again, because it passed me by completely (bad me!) But you’re right about the end of Distractions and what it says about House, his self-esteem and his relationships with women (including hookers). I think House uses them occasionally, but I belive that most of the time he takes care of his own needs (if you get the meaning).

    I don’t think he takes any relationship casually, male or female-based.

  • sdemar

    Great review, Barbara. I really liked the episode even though it seemed to go at such a fast pace that I had a hard time keeping up.

    Noone else has commented on this but this didn’t feel like a DS written episode to me. I know he wasn’t the sole writer but it still didn’t feel like anything he would write.

    I do think the pendalum is going to start to swing the other way starting with the finale and Season 5 may be a little heavier than Season 4. Perhaps the writers thought Season 3 was too dark, and as I recall there was a lot of grumbling over it, so they wanted to lighten it up this year. I’m one that likes a combination of angst and humor.

    I also wonder if TPTB believe that Hugh and RSL do comedy well together and want to explore that. RSL has been in a lot more scenes this year and that seems to be how their relationship works.

    A little plug of my Huddy love-I loved that final scene between the two of them. I do wish we had more scenes of them together and less of the newbies.

  • RealDeal

    Loved this episode. RSL and HL are just so awesome together. There was a lot of meat in this episode. I think it’s better when HL is in fewer scenes. 13 was great. And Taub, the politically saavy member of the team did a great job explaining to Foreman that House gave him authority to keep him in his place. Kutner was a little goofy this week but he still has that needy quality which I found so annoying in Cameron. Cuddy was pretty good this week. She actually behaved like an administrator. I wonder if she was pissed because House was using her to keep Amber from taking Wilson from him.

  • houserocket7

    “Clare–big cast, too little time on House himself. sigh. They will need to do something since this is not an ensemble show. Good question for the writers–do they think that writing for a big cast is to the detriment of the exploration of House’s character–or do they want to slow that down (since there are probably three more seasons to cover?)”

    This is one of the key questions I hope you’ll address with Lerner/Friend.

    “But you’re right about the end of Distractions and what it says about House, his self-esteem and his relationships with women (including hookers). I think House uses them occasionally, but I believe that most of the time he takes care of his own needs (if you get the meaning).”

    He’s a doctor so I’m certain he is just practicing preventative medicine to avoid prostate cancer.

    “I don’t think he takes any relationship casually, male or female-based.”

    If he did, he would have slept with and used Cameron without a second thought. It would have been alluded to as opposed to the many allusions to the fact they have not slept together.

  • Barbara Barnett

    I do think the pendalum is going to start to swing the other way starting with the finale and Season 5 may be a little heavier than Season 4. Perhaps the writers thought Season 3 was too dark, and as I recall there was a lot of grumbling over it, so they wanted to lighten it up this year. I’m one that likes a combination of angst and humor.

    I also wonder if TPTB believe that Hugh and RSL do comedy well together and want to explore that. RSL has been in a lot more scenes this year and that seems to be how their relationship works.

    A little plug of my Huddy love-I loved that final scene between the two of them. I do wish we had more scenes of them together and less of the newbies.

    Hi Sdemar–I hope you’re right. One of House’s most attractive attributes (and it counterbalances his flaws) is his soulfulness. When it’s missing, I find the character less forgivable. He’s just a funny jerk. I watch House because that’s not all he is. that’s not all the show is. It’s why my least favorite eps from years past are episodes like Spin and Airborne. House’s soulfulness and introspection redeem otherwise ordinary episodes and make the beautifully crafted episodes (which is more often than not) soar.

    He’s a doctor so I’m certain he is just practicing preventative medicine to avoid prostate cancer.

    LOL! You must be right. And as he said, he’s ambidextrous in his…er…preventive medicine :)

    You’re right, Houserocket, about Cameron. If he was as much of a tomcat as he pretends to be, (and given that he’s an arrogant jerk–again image) he would have had no issues with sleeping with Cameron, or even that girl with the crush. Fact is that he has a strong sense of right and wrong–and a strong sense of justice. They’re both so sophisticated and finely honed, that convention, convenience and self-preservation do not prevent him from adhering to it.

  • Mary

    DrGregHouse.com has a link to a Canadian Press interview with David Shore, who says that all of this year’s characters will be back in the 5th season.

    So much for my speculation that this year’s finale will see the loss of one of the fellows, either the originals or the new crew.

  • melly

    Excellent review.

    While I didn’t hate this episode and even really liked certain aspects of it, I thought that it lacked gravity and drove home the fact that the cast is too crowded.

    It used to be that the audience learned about the main characters through their interactions with the patients, and it worked wonderfully because we got to spend time with characters that we loved and got invested in the potw in the process.

    Now, in order spend time on characterization they are forced to take the story away from the patient, and if they focus too much on the patient/ddx part of the story then they are spending too much time with new characters that much of the audience either despises or is indifferent to at best. Not a good position to be in.

    I think they’re eventually going to have to own up to making a mistake by adding all these new characters and let some go, or put all their marbles behind this new set of drones and let Chase and Cam go.

  • melly

    Excellent review.

    While I didn’t hate this episode and even really liked certain aspects of it, I thought that it lacked gravity and drove home the fact that the cast is too crowded.

    It used to be that the audience learned about the main characters through their interactions with the patients, and it worked wonderfully because we got to spend time with characters that we loved and got invested in the potw in the process.

    Now, in order spend time on characterization they are forced to take the story away from the patient, and if they focus too much on the patient/ddx part of the story then they are spending too much time with new characters that much of the audience either despises or is indifferent to at best. Not a good position to be in.

    I think they’re eventually going to have to own up to making a mistake by adding all these new characters and let some go, or put all their marbles behind this new set of drones and let Chase and Cam go.

  • Jair

    Barbara, nice review. I did have a couple of thoughts that came to mind. In Half Wit, House’s blood was never tested, so the old team doesn’t know whether House could have syphilis or not; they just know Mr. Luke N. Laura did. Also, I read a very nice suggestion on another forum that this episode was all about relationship contracts and breaches of them. We saw House and Wilson’s (we’ll each continue to be who we are) and Wilson breach it; we saw House and Amber trying to make one over Wilson and Cuddy enforce it; we saw House ostensibly try and wiggle out of his employer contract with the reviews; (I think we saw him perform his own kind of review with the blood switch–he wanted to know which of his team would move past seeing personality as separate from the organic and able to be seen as a symptom. His sharp “Which one?” when informed that someone on his team tested him showed his real interest in the game). We saw Foreman want to change his employment contract and Chase and Cameron negotiating their relationship contract. And possibly House and Cuddy as well. It was interesting that the only paper review House put any thought into was hers.

    I liked the ep. But then, I think the season could be subtitled The Year of Relationship Contracts. We’re seeing a lot of House exploring his relationships. I don’t mind and expect the balance to shift back again to more inner turmoil. Though I’ve always felt House is not on a redemptive journey to heal himself of what makes him not fit in, but rather a man who accepts that he doesn’t and won’t compromise because he thinks society’s norms are just as capable of being wrong. I’m not sure he’s as angst filled on the subject as some of his viewers expect.

  • Lilah

    I would really love it if someone talked to Lerner and Friend about ship-pandering. I mean, we know they do it, we know why they do it, they know we know they do it, etc.

    But my question is, do the writers come to a concensus each episode or story arc on which House relationship they want to focus on? When a line is tossed out to placate or excite certain viewers, (like the House/Cameron shippers with the “Did you sleep with him?” question in “No More Mr. Nice Guy” or the House/Wilson shippers in “Don’t Ever Change” with “Oh my god– you’re sleeping with me”), is it a reflection of the specific writer’s feelings on who House has the most chemistry or unresolved sexual tension with? Is it an agreement among staff writers that every ship should minimally be catered to each episode, or is it something that’s up to the individual writer to decide? How much is at their discretion and how much is formula? What does it tell us about where the show is going?

    Please feel free to revise/edit/rephrase this tangled question for clarity, but I hope something at least vaguely provocative and informative is asked and answered when you get the change to interview them! Thanks.

  • http://annuk ann uk

    How I agree with Boffle that House is a man who ” ..knows more, sees more and .. feels more than others ”
    To me House is a man who has read a lot, thought a lot and experienced a lot and who has evolved out of it a serious personal philosophy which he tries hard to live up to. He lives at greater heights and depths than the other characters. This inevitably brings him into conflict with conventional society. It is Hugh Laurie’s ability to let us see this which which gave the show its extraordinary power and which has been lost in much of series 4. I hope you can use your interview to make this point to the writers.

  • Lilly

    Barbara, thank you for your excellent review and your thought-provoking remarks about the changes in Dr. House. If your friend had asked me whether I would be invested in the show after viewing only Season 4 episodes, my answer would surely have been negative. I barely recognize this show compared to the brilliant first two seasons. It seems to be less “CSI” and more “Scrubs” these days, only Turk and JD care more about the patient than House does. Perhaps House = janitor?

    After watching the marathon the other night, I was surprised by how many times House said “I’m sorry” in a genuine manner. He had some dignity, which seems to be entirely lost this season. House in a do-rag? Would Season 1 House have done that?

    I can understand the need to keep things fresh, but surely this could have been accomplished by adding a character such as Amber or Kutner to the old team. To take the #1 drama show and make HUGE changes completely boggles my mind! Many of us felt that Chase and Cameron contributed to the show’s success, but their noticeable absence is only a part of my dissatisfaction this season.

    I loved the old team from their first episode, but simply cannot bond with or like the new one, with the possible exception of Kutner. I don’t care about Thirteen’s “mystery” in spite of the efforts of TPTB to shove it in my face. I find House’s favoritism and patience for her to be completely inexplicable and out-of-character.

    Most importantly, I find the changes in the character of House to be the most upsetting. He’s been a frat boy all season and I had had enough of it by the third episode. The only thing worse than turning House into Mr. Rogers is turning him into a buffoon, and a vulgar buffoon at that. Hugh Laurie’s dramatic talents are not being showcased, and I can’t see an Emmy nominee in the whole sorry lot, unless they enter in the “Comedy” category.

    “No More Mr. Nice Guy” seemed like another “fluff” episode to me, but perhaps I was spoiled by watching the Season 1 Marathon on Sunday. It’s like comparing a Van Gogh to a child’s paint-by-number set.

    I miss the old show. This new version is no longer a “must-see” for me.

  • Veresna Ussep

    I have been disappointed in this season in general, but was very happy with NMMNG, although part of that may simply be the delight of finally having a new episode. On to my suggestions for questions:
    1) Could they shed more light on the writing process for this show. I remember reading an interview with one of the writers who commented how different this show is compared to others. Writers are allowed to work on their own scripts individually, instead of continually being in a ‘
    round-table’ type of environemnt. And yet, there has to be some regard to the consistency, with major (Stacy,Vogler,Tritter) arcs and others (Cuddy’s trying for a baby arc, bringing Amber back, etc.) For example: At the time that Foreman announced his intention to resign in season 3, were they already working towards having House lose all three members of the team, or vice
    versa (did the possibility of one of the fellows leaving lead to the decision to get rid of the others as well)?
    2 As regards Houses’s appearance: In ‘3 Stories’, Hugh Laurie appeared clean-shaven and with more hair and different lighting to appear younger, but are we to assume that it also has to do with changes that occured after the infarction (the feeling that since patients don’t want to see a ‘sick’ doctor that the general scruffiness is a deliberate attempt, along with not wearing the lab coat do NOT appear as a doctor)?

    Thanks for all of your wonder reviews, Barbara! I may run a close second to your HL-obsession and am currently enjoying both Fortysomething and A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and it’s great to find a guy that even my husband will enjoy watching with me!

    Veresna U

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. It’s interesting reading so many different takes on the season and the latest episode.

    In my opinion, House is, as Boffle said a man who knows more, sees more and feels more than everyone else. He has, in a sense, turned himself into stone to avoid what is probably an emotionally painful existence (as well as the physical). To me, the exploration of House’s layers, his psyche and inner life are an essential slice of the series.

    Ann said:
    To me House is a man who has read a lot, thought a lot and experienced a lot and who has evolved out of it a serious personal philosophy which he tries hard to live up to. He lives at greater heights and depths than the other characters. This inevitably brings him into conflict with conventional society. It is Hugh Laurie’s ability to let us see this which which gave the show its extraordinary power and which has been lost in much of series 4.

    I really like the way you put this. And I agree with it.

    What if (and I know this is going to sound like a fan wank, and maybe it is, but maybe not) this (his “not caring,” his apathy and extra-snarkiness are a part of how he’s dealing with the team’s loss. Remember we all thought he was doing fine, smoking a cigar with the patient’s husband, getting a new guitar after making that separation. What if he’s not having as easy a time with that as we thought?

    Anyway, its a thought.

    I have liked this season, and I look forward to Monday’s episode (and the finale looks incredibly good.) But I have to wonder if the House we’re seeing is withdrawn so far into his castle, that all we’re getting is the jerk. He let people get close to him, and they left (again)–even if it was his own doing. His constanstly testing of his relationship with Wilson has been so far unsuccessful in driving him away (not Cuddy either).

  • http://www.sweetiethesmartestdog.com Sue

    From the comments here, House has the same attachment to the old team that a lot of fans have.

    I still don’t understand the scene where Foreman gives House his review of him. House’s response that he has to humiliate Foreman for the new team to respect and listen to him did not make sense to me. Having the new team fear him did make sense. That is really a reflection on how House feels about himself. This scene is the most revealing about House as a person and a doctor.

    I heard in an interview that the cast members only know whether the medical terms mean something good or something bad. I have a doctorate degree in medicine, and I can tell you that they deliver the lines with perfect conviction, as if they totally understand what is being said and they are really doctors saying those things. This is what makes the program so convincing. The old team is better at this than the new team is. Tincture of time.

    I found this medical situation boring. House was not really invested in the outcome. He was too nice, too even-toned with the patient. I did not care if the patient lived or died.

    I think House is attracted to Amber. It may be the “game” of sparring with her that is behind it. He likes challenging women. Cameron was never challenging. Stacy and Cuddy are.

    I too miss the zinger moments when House comes up with a comment that is the moral issue of the episode. Often, it is something I had not considered. One example is from Informed Consent, when House says, ‘you either help him live or you help him die, it can’t be both.” It was there in Don’t Ever Change.” It was sorely lacking in the beginning of this season. I still go back to Wilson’s words when he said he thought House would hire people he really didn’t care about to keep from getting attached. Did House really do that?

    The brilliance of Hugh Laure was missing in this episode. I didn’t really feel House was there if full. The only time I really felt he was House was when he was reading Cuddy’s review. There was an understanding between them at that moment that made me feel the characters were psychically connected.

  • suzy

    I just wonder why no one has commented on the fact that Dr. House seems to be walking better. Bowling? I seem to rememeber in a past episode where he couldn’t even stand on his leg.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Thanks, Connie, for your comments. I wonder, as some people have speculated, that everyone was getting their game back just a little after the long hiatus (much, much longer than summer break). And, for the writers especially, the summer break really isn’t much–but this was three months without writing as opposed to just a couple of weeks.

    Suzy, I don’t think House is walking better. I think he was trying to overcome the pain by bowling–reaching out to someone as he saw the possibility of losing Wilson. He took a vicodin after his bowling frame. His limp is as bad or worse than it had been last season. When he’s not using the cane, he’s often clutching his thigh when he has to move.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s episode.

  • cad

    Firstly Barbara, thanks a lot again for your insightful reviews. They always open up so much more than I could find out on my own. I could do good with an episode every two weeks because there´s so much to chew on, isn´t it?
    You said: /What if (and I know this is going to sound like a fan wank, and maybe it is, but maybe not) this (his “not caring,” his apathy and extra-snarkiness are a part of how he’s dealing with the team’s loss. Remember we all thought he was doing fine, smoking a cigar with the patient’s husband, getting a new guitar after making that separation. What if he’s not having as easy a time with that as we thought?/

    In S4 we´ve actually seen him ask Cameron (in Guardian Angels and oh! the snarky deflection as she says no.) and somewhat covertly wanting to know the same from Chase (in The Right Stuff whether they´d want come back in his team.
    They don´t and he´s trying to cope with it for as we know he´s “not good with change.” It would have been odd if he had been the same House as we know him fomr the previous three seasons, wouldn´t it. But I´m full of confidence that everything´s balancing out because the new team actually starts standing up to him and that, besides his drugs, is what he needs to function, too.

  • Tanya

    Dear Barbara, thank you for your review!

    Here some questions I would like you to ask Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend:

    1)Have they some inside description of every character which would help writers in their work or they can change the image of House (and other characters)for free, without any limits?

    2)Do they have a conception for each entire season which can influence drama of the episodes (for instance, 1 season – acquaintance with characters, 2 season – House and his love, 3 season – House and his addiction etc.)? Or the writers develop all drama lines at random?

    Sorry for my grammar, I’m not an American.

  • Cris

    If anyone knows the answer to this plz write & tell me..
    In one of the episodes there are 2 yong kids in the backseat of a car & a police officer comes by & pecks on the window.Once gone the guy starts being in pain..Anyways Foreman tries to talk him into a internship thing at the hospital because he knows alot of the stuff but he tells him no that he enjoys his family’s business..Who is that guy??

  • barbara barnett

    Cris–It’s “needle in a haystack”–season three.