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TV Review: House, M.D. – “Risky Business”

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“Risky Business” is the perfect title for this week’s House, M.D. The concerns Thad (Michael Nouri), the dying CEO of a manufacturing company about to move his business offshore and across the world, the cheaper labor market of Asia. Thousands of American jobs are at risk. Thad’s daughter insists that her father has reasons other than financial self-interest at stake, but she risks her relationship with him, refusing to be a party to his relocation plan.

House (Hugh Laurie) risks his freedom with on-the-edge-of-legal insider trading scheme, watching his patient’s stock price tumble due to his illness. He buys corporate options dirt cheap on the assumption that he will save Thad, and (if he’s saved) the company’s share price will recover along with the CEO. If he succeeds, House will make a killing and be able to use the profit to fund his seriously underfunded diagnostics department. Clever, eh?

Park’s (Charlyne Yi) status as a doctor is also at risk as she confronts the consequences of punching out her old boss after he grabbed her behind. There’s not a lot House can do to help her, given his current credibility on the medical staff, but what he does in the end is clever and effective.

There is much to like about “Risky Business.” But I cannot shake the feeling that some essential ingredient was missing.

Pushing the character of Dr. Gregory House so close to the edge of unlikeability is a risky business for a series in its eighth season, adding an ironic twist to the episode’s title. Any time the writers make House as unlikeable as they have in this week’s “Risky Business” episode, they risk making him unsympathetic. And when House is so unsympathetic, it’s hard to care about him at all. He becomes a tiresome jerk, not only to his associates, but more significantly, to us. I can probably count on one hand the number of episodes in which House has skated this perilously close to this line: “Whatever it Takes” (season four) and “Fall From Grace” (season seven) are the only ones that come immediately to mind. House’s colleagues practically sigh and roll their eyes with each new encounter in “Risky Business,” from his newest subordinates to new boss Foreman (Omar Epps) and best friend Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). And that is fine. But that shouldn’t be our reaction (at least not at every turn), and for me, last night, it was.

House has given himself a financial interest in saving the man’s life, at first trying to extort enough money from Thad to re-fund his defunded diagnostics department and he can reclaim his outer office, hire Adams and bring back Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Taub (Peter Jacobson). But this is among the least of what annoys me about House here. (Particularly since he comes up with a more cunning plan.)

It is very much like House to try and squeeze money from a grateful patient. The fact that he would use that money to fund his department rather than to buy a new guitar or motorbike (or go back to Figi) is very House as well. The way in which he ultimately saves Park’s job by barging into her disciplinary hearing is also pure House. Risking himself (because he’d surely tick off Foreman) to help someone else is one of House’s best qualities. And I think the writers are rehabilitating House by having him do stuff like this every episode—under the table and practically invisible. And that’s something I really like about this season. House isn’t overtly trying to be nice.

In “Risky Business,” House is a jerk to everyone, which is no surprise because House is usually a jerk to everyone. But there’s a piling-on effect here. He’s a jerk, he blackmails, he sets up an insider-trading scheme—and on top of all that, he really doesn’t have too many thoughts about the case. Until, that is, the light bulb goes on above his head as he’s about to punch out the orthopedics doc next door.

Granted, it is House’s actions that ultimately save Park’s job, and in the end, as he finally realizes Adams’ story, gives her a way to release her emotions about it. I suspect that extra funding House secured was for the express purpose of buying the orthopedics equipment Adam’s smashes to bits. And those are good things, actions that mitigate House’s behavior—to an extent.

So what’s missing, then? I think the missing ingredient in “Risky Business” is gravitas. At its best, the series blends the comedy (which should be “to taste”) with the serious drama that is the hallmark of the show. And some of that gravitas needs to come from House himself; without it, he’s a caricature of himself. It’s not even necessary to have it part of the dialogue—a look, a glance, a shot of House thinking or struggling with an idea or decision. Park and Adams (and Foreman and Wilson) are certainly serious enough. But House can’t be all merry prankster with the intellectual/serious side completely AWOL. That balancing act has been what’s sustained such an overtly unlikeable character for more than seven seasons. And it’s what distinguishes this show from House pretenders whose creators don’t understand that a funny jerk only goes so far before viewers want to push him off a building. (At least in my opinion.)

Well, no one says I have to love them all, and I look forward to next week’s episode with great anticipation!

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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

    I thought there was something off with the pacing of this episode. It *felt* like they spent the entire time walking somewhere or talking somewhere. Which made the medical case feel like an afterthought, even though there probably were just as many procedures shown as there are in every other episode.

  • Paulac45

    Great review. I liked the episode and on repeat viewings it is as usual multi layered. I liked the humour, loved House’ manipulations, both to get what he wanted, and to do the best for his newbies in an invisible way. I didn’t mind that it was written the way it was – ‘missing gravitas’ if that is what you feel it was.. I think it’s allowed from time to time – it revealed a bit more about House, and for the necessary development of the new characters it revealed some more about their psyche.

  • Amy

    Excellent insightful review. My problem (and it just be my problem) is the last episode of season 7 completely changed how I felt about House. Yes he was a jerk but he also did many good things too. Now House is a jerk with untreated rage issues. Sure he went to jail but that didn’t treat his underlying problems. Until those issues are addressed I’m just going to wonder who he’s going to hurt next.

  • Eloise

    I had no problems with House’s behaviour, he has always been a jerk and I saw no difference here from the last 8 yrs. What was hard for me I was not engaged by the POTW and I really don’t know why?

    I think maybe I need to watch again to decide more.
    I loved House’s under the table benefolent acts, Dr Park’s victroy dance and House grabbing Foreman’s butt!

    All in all not a favourite but still entertaining and the final scene was sheer brilliance!

  • Celia

    An absolute train wreck. I would have switched off the show if I hadn’t become mesmerized by how bad it all was.
    When you have to have the characters spend the final minutes of an episode running a narrative to explain all that preceded it, you have to know that your script is a fog bank.
    I used the same term ‘caricature’ to describe House in this episode . It was the first time I felt HL was ‘phoning in a performance. Perhaps he has already moved on in his head.
    I found myself counting the number of retooled plot devices just to stay awake last evening : #1 Adams thinks House will be more humanized by additional Clinic hours (Cuddy “One day One Room S3); House thinks the Disciplinary Co will look more favorably on one of his team if they see them as a victim (Chase “The Mistake’ S2): House taking $5000 off a perplexed Wilson (Paternity S 1) etc etc. DS seems determined to force the audience to accept that the best way to mange anger is through violence at inanimate objects…like peoples’ home. He hasn’t gotten off that soap box yet. In was trite. It was inanimate. it was shallow. It was trying so hard to be clever you could hear the wheels grinding and see the smoke.
    Plus HL needs to ‘get his sexy back’. He’s lost it. I was looking at some DVDs from only a couple years ago and wondered “where did that guy go ??”…maybe to the L’Oreal ad. A show with the male lead on pilot and portraying a narcissistic jerk without even sex appeal is …..not a distraction, which why I watch.

  • Celia

    # 5 Celia…the word is ‘inane’ not inanimate’…….which is sort of ironic.

  • housemaniac

    I thought the episode kind of worked, at least thematicatically. I would have liked more Wilson, but that’s just a nitpick. True enough, Barbara, House himself lacked gravitas, but at least we saw a little more depth to the new characters, as Celia said. I like the buffoonish side of House, when it’s done without props like monster trucks, etc. Also I didn’t think the lightness of tone was all that different from the other shows this season (except the first). I still don’t think this season has got its bearings and lacks dramatic tension as a result. I hope, I hope with the return of more of the “regulars” we can begin to get some storylines that carry through the episodes and ones that are more substantive and tension-filled than a disciplinary hearing for a character we don’t yet care about.

    Along with Celia, I worry about what the writers are up to–or not up to– this season. There’s the repetition of some plot devices that she pointed out. And conversely there is the absence others. In particular, we now have yet another episode with no Vicodin-popping. This says to me the writers might be getting lazy or forgetful. He certainly isn’t off the medication and DS made such a point of saying that this is one of the things that was not going to change about House, so bring on the pills, lest loyal House fans just through up their hands in frustration! Any theories, Barbara? Or anyone else?

    Maybe even most interesting at all is the absence of reaction to the episode. There are only 7 comments here, almost 24 hours after airtime. I can’t remember such a paucity of responses since I started reading Barbara’s blog at some point during Season 6. I wonder that’s about? Are people just not watching? Or finding it so disappointing they don’t want to comment?

  • Blacktop

    Celia, you spoke my mind. I would have said this episode was appalling, but I didn’t feel that strongly about it. The dramatic tension, the emotional conflict, the intensity, in fact ,the risk, has completely gone out of the show this season. The thesis that it is emotionally healthy and ethically justified to vent anger on inanimate objects (trashing medical equipment, houses) or people (punching bosses, irksome friends) represents a disappointing low for this show.

    And yes on the disappearance of the frisky this season. House looks like a Yoda among teenagers now, shudder. I want the intense, brooding, tormented, and rebellious genius of past seasons. So far,we are definitely not getting the “basics” Shore promised us.

    Barbara, you are right to use the term caricature. It worries me that we have already seen four episodes of a season that is probably 22 episodes long at most, and we have yet to be introduced to the through- lines, the overarching themes that will be threaded through the length of the season.

    I am ready to be won back, but I am loosing confidence…and interest.

  • BrokenLeg

    5 @ Celia:
    Your words:
    “An absolute train wreck. I would have switched off the show if I hadn’t become mesmerized by how bad it all was.
    When you have to have the characters spend the final minutes of an episode running a narrative to explain all that preceded it, you have to know that your script is a fog bank.
    I used the same term ‘caricature’ to describe House in this episode . It was the first time I felt HL was ‘phoning in a performance. Perhaps he has already moved on in his head.”
    And:
    “….Plus HL needs to ‘get his sexy back’. He’s lost it. I was looking at some DVDs from only a couple years ago and wondered “where did that guy go ??”…maybe to the L’Oreal ad. A show with the male lead on pilot and portraying a narcissistic jerk without even sex appeal is …..not a distraction, which why I watch. “

    THIS,THIS and THIS!!. Although I can subscribe all your post, specially about bad or lazy or careless writing.

    7 @ housemaniac
    From your words:” Maybe even most interesting at all is the absence of reaction to the episode. There are only 7 comments here, almost 24 hours after airtime. I can’t remember such a paucity of responses since I started reading Barbara’s blog at some point during Season 6. I wonder that’s about? Are people just not watching? Or finding it so disappointing they don’t want to comment?”

    I think it’s the last thing you’ve said…until they, we, no longer watch anymore. I personally think that having watched four episodes of new season yet, my old GH is not there anymore. Maybe is gone somewhere with Cuddy or is the Fiji islands forever, I do not know. But he is no longer who he was ( that, on the other hand is so sarcastic, after the “people don’t change” DS known mantra…)
    I only know that I miss terribly old good stories, the once brilliant HL acting ( he seems so tired now to me), the really good House and Cuddy banter, the old good medical cases, and yes, as Barbara wisely noted, I miss [H] “gravitas”. Are we watching the slow death of our once beloved series?

  • BrokenLeg

    8 @ Blacktop
    To your words ” The thesis that it is emotionally healthy and ethically justified to vent anger on inanimate objects (trashing medical equipment, houses) or people (punching bosses, irksome friends) represents a disappointing low for this show” I only can say loud and clear YES, YES and YES!

  • The Other Barnett

    This episode was a souffle….it was hummus on a pita chip, it was tapas. It was ok, but not substantive. I do think when Taub and Chase come back there should be some more ‘gravitas’ added. Adams has not really been “there” and Park is only intellectually there, though she is not someone to be considered seriously, yet.

    Foreman and WIlson have had a year away from House and know what they are missing, but still probably feel better adjusted not falling into House’s games.

    House is happy and he is still getting his bearings…so I am allowing some latitude for the writers, but only for a couple more shows…then things should get more serious.

    Am still wondering why there has not be any real serious righteous indignation. What does it say about PPTH’s feelings about Cuddy when everything is so bland? Hoping for either a Taub snit or a Chase punch to show someone cared.

  • The Other Barnett

    9@Broken Leg

    May I suggest that what we are watching is either a painfully slow course correction from last year….or we are watching what I hit on all last season,…..horribly bad writing. Which one it is I am not sure yet.

  • KMC

    Having just lost my job because of “funding running out”, I find I have more sympathy for the “thousands” of people about to lose their jobs by the PotW moving his business to China than for House’s need to get his department back together. Intellectually, I can understand why he did what he did (blackmailing his patient, doing some insider trading…this is House), but I came away from this episode really not likeing him…and I can’t remember the last time that happened.
    But how much longer could Adams hang around and “work” for House without being on the payroll? Even if she is independently wealthy…she needs hospital privledges…which to my mind is more to the question…technically she shouldn’t be allowed to see, touch, do tests on, etc,. patients without privledges. I think that the problem I’m having with these two new “ducklings” is that unlike the ones that came before, we weren’t given time to get to know them before we were expected to care about them and their various personal problems. And the fact that this is likely (hopefully) the last season makes me not all that eager to invest in either of them. I’m hoping that bringing Chase and Taub back will revive things a bit…but I can’t wait to hear how they will explain WHY they’re coming back…one would have though that after over a year, they both would have moved on to the point of not needing/wanting to return.
    And while I’d like to see more of Wilson and the Bromance…he and House “kissed and make up” a little too quickly for my taste…I was hoping for a few more episodes of angst before Wilson caved. I’m still watching…I still have hope…but I think the best I can hope for is for TPtB to tie up any loose ends and give us a reasonably satisfactory series finale….after eight years…we (and the characters) have earned it.

  • Jane E

    I could not agree more with your review. I walked away thinking something is missing and I could not put my finger on it. I hope the House writers read your review!!!!

  • rjw

    I have learned not to judge a House episode solely on one viewing.Will have to take another look next week.

  • Nick

    I don’t know what all the hoo-ha about House being too big jerk was this episode. He did two good things for two different people! Three if you count the act of hiring Adams in addition to his helping -I forget the Asian chicks name-not get fired, and letting Adams smash stuff. And after an episode where he just let Thirteen unselfishly go. If anything House is becoming a pussy cat. ( In a cute way) Sure he acted out of self interest in the way he pressured the patient into signing the contract-but come on! He has to do some jerky stuff to get his way or he wouldn’t be House. Plus love the chemistry of the yin-yang between the new docs and think Foreman’s new role is perfect for him. This season is already better than almost all of the last one. And if some elements seem a bit forumlaic or retreaded-well, it’s a show that’s been on for 8 years! I’m not intersted in seeing them reinvent the wheel.It’s enough for me that they got some new blood in there. And I loved the line about irrational patriotism.

  • tipitinatoo

    My comment is what it was after Ep. 3–the show needs better writers. The acting is fine–the genius of the scripts is MIA. I’m now enjoying reruns more than the new shows. Sounds like I have lots of company. I’d have rather seen them end the series last year with House walking away from his car crash into the sunset than this lame stuff we’re subjected to now. DS & Crew: GET A GRIP!

  • shirl

    Didn’t like the show last night at all.I still can not get over the ending of season 7. They should of ended the season at after hours.

  • 20V

    The more I think about and look back at the episode, the more I like the ideas presented rather than its actual executuion, and it’s frustrating that it was so close to being good and ended up as passable. House ultimately helping Park and Adams shows some amount of growth in the character; perhaps some learning from his mistakes last year. But it all gets bogged down with too much focus on the Park bet, so much so it becomes confusing, and too little focus on Adams’ anger/problems. By the time the final scene had appeared, I’d forgotten House was trying to figure out why she was late at the beginning. It was literally the last thing brought up every scene.

    We’re essentially where we were when the sixth season started. House, whether it’s for selfish reasons or not, is trying to be better. In hindsight, it’s annoying the last two years are essentially null now, but we are at least trekking stronger than last season.

  • spitza

    It’s my first post here, but I was following this forum for quite a while now. Sorry for my English (not my native language). I am a big fan of the series. I watched almost every episode several times and every time found something new and exciting. During the last episode I suddenly realized that I actually was wondering if I should have gone to bed or done/watched something else. It lacked a spark somehow. It felt like everybody was going through the motions, saying the lines. I am not sure if it’s because of the script or acting. The characters didn’t somehow feel real and that is what I always loved about the series. The situations were not always realistic but the characters used to be, maybe extreme sometimes but still realistic.

    I think what made me feel this way was House himself. He is different now (talking about “people don’t change”). It felt like he was doing everything because he was supposed to – trying to get money to return his old team, jerking everybody around – do “housian” stuff… Like he was really tired of all this but doing it anyway, just out of habit. From the lines House says and his actions you would think that the idea is that he is supposed to slowly get back to normal after being in prison. But the way he DOES all that … I just can’t get rid of the feeling that he cares less and less. Deep deep inside he is not passionate about anything anymore, everything and everybody bores him to death even medicine. Even his interactions with Wilson lack emotions. Is it part of the plot? Is it just me seeing things? I am not sure … Let’s hope that the return of Chase and Taub will make the next episodes more exciting.

    Thank you Barbara for your reviews. I am always looking forward to them. I want to thank everybody else for thoughtful comments too. They help me to sort things out for myself.

  • 20V

    @ #5 – Celia:
    “DS seems determined to force the audience to accept that the best way to mange anger is through violence at inanimate objects…like peoples’ home. He hasn’t gotten off that soap box yet.”

    I have to disagree here. I don’t think there was a hidden message about pent up anger in the scene. I took it as House lending a hand to someone who helped him and who he thinks will be of value to him. It’s a tad selfish, and he doesn’t really care if she gets over her husband, but it says a lot he would bother to help at all.

  • RobRow

    Perfect review, I thought so-so episode but I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because I found the financial scheming difficult to follow? Not that bright. Am I correct in thinking that the check House finally gave to Foreman was primarily the result of his quasi insider trading and nothing to do with the patient’s gratitude for saving his life? In other words was Barton ignorant of it when he signed his name at the end? House said it was important to him, but didn’t precisely say why. In a sense it makes no difference, because I think Barton was always going to make that decision, but I agree it does seem to skirt with making House too much of jerk.

  • RobF

    As with the previous episode, this one seemed like the writers were moving around caricatures made of cardboard.

    Instead of having House doing real things that happen to be jerk-ish or selfish or provocative, we have him just being a JERK (omg, watch the Jerk everyone!) or doing something for no reason than to be PROVOCATIVE (ooh, viewers, did you see him push everyone’s buttons?)

    Do the writers no longer identify with House as a human? They’ve made him a sideshow curiosity.

    The only scene I really liked was when Park came back from the hearing, kissed her biceps, and did an “in your face!” victory gloat.

    Please let the next episode be good. Please…

  • Earth Orbiter

    I noted on a different site that it is difficult to enjoy this show anymore because we no longer have any affinity for its lead character. #18 shirl is probably right: had they ended last season following After Hours, I think we would all be enjoying this season a great deal more. Last night’s ratings were in the mid-six range. All of the slavering LE fans are dancing in delight that House is tanking without her and, sadly, they may be right.

    And I think Hugh Laurie is even sexier without the hairpiece, but I heart bald guys.

  • HouseMDFan

    IMO the seeming lack of gravitas comes from the fact that House was putting on a show for most of the episode – and that we, the audience, weren’t supposed to know about his agenda or his games until the final revelations: the last scenes with Wilson, Foreman and Adams, where he was much less demonstrative and much more “real”. But this led to a slight lost-in-the-woods feeling for most of the episode, regarding House’s behaviour as much as the plot and themes of the episode, which were very intricate and hard to follow I thought. I’ve watched it twice by now and have to say that it considerably improved on second viewing.

  • smk46

    the show is a shadow of its former self because house is no longer a fully realized character. hugh laurie does his best, but it isn’t possible to work with the scripts he has been given this year and make house the deep and fascinating man he was before season 7 ended. the writing isn’t up to the task. recycled plot situations, lack of humor, resolution of conflict with violence, dull medicine…none of these were part of the show before but are now. and with the main character as non-empathetic as house has been made, how can the show survive? for this season to succeed, our hero has to be given some depth and complexity that rings true so we can care about him again. if we don’t care, we won’t watch.

  • Josie123

    I found this episode really boring. I’m tired of seeing a cartoonish House. At the end of the episode, I was disgusted to see valuable medical equipment destroyed just to see someone vent out their anger. Why would a rational person, Adams, even listen to House who has emotional issues and a criminal past?

    House seems to be trying to be useful, “the benevolent puppet master” and is not dealing with his own personal issues. Do you think he’s going to crash soon? Once his team is reassembled, do you think his past is going to haunt him? Perhaps solving medical cases is not enough? Any thoughts where this season is going? Do you see House heading back to a “dark place”?

  • http://barbarabarnett.com Barbara barnett

    Earthorbiter,

    I still have lots of affinity for House and the show. That wasn’t the issue for me. This was the first episode all season where I felt something was off, and just enough to bother me.

  • Amy

    I am very impressed with all the comments here concerning this episode. The remarks are very caring and insightful. I hope the producers read them all, learn from their wisdom, and act accordingly.

  • charlea

    I just watch this episode and I’m sorry, but I hold not a this season 8.
    I repeat what I said last time…. he lacks pace, missing someone to counter house…. and the producer have left it go.
    Foreman is soft, non-existent ds the episodes, and at the same time when he appears it is not essential was the episode
    I am fan of the series since the beginning, but here I must confess that even if by fidelity I slot the series to the end is missing something, someone….

  • RobRow

    HouseMDFan, I agree, I found that one hard to follow and needed to watch it twice, just to understand it. There were still the show’s defaults to enjoy, and Park’s victory dance made me chuckle. I get the sense that things are going on with House’s character beneath the surface. I hope more will be revealed next episode.

  • bigHousefan

    I am an admitted House addict and in love with the character. In this episode, I saw House scheming under the radar to help Dr. Park. I saw House’s insatiable curiosity trying to pick apart Dr. Adams. I saw the 12 year old child in House mad that others had ‘his’ outer office and try to get it back. I saw House risking himself for the benefit of others while arguably the gains ultimately benefit House.

    In Charity Case, House mocked charity but was in the end truly charitable. In this episode, House mocked loyalty, but House used his ‘winnings’ to refund his department and hire Adams, Chase and Taub. (He could have gone to Figi :) I saw this all as trying to make amends.

    I did find the financial scheming a little hard to follow, it took me a second viewing to figure it out. I appreciate the difficult task of trying to ‘clean up’ after last season, deal with the loss of Cuddy, get House back in his role at PPTH in the aftermath of last season’s finale, all this while not significantly changing his character AND getting all of this explaining done early on so they can start writing episodes that work accommodating all the changes in staff and in House’s life.

    I guess my viewing comes from a position of cutting them a little slack, and, I really enjoyed the episode. I could have used a lot more Wilson in the mix because to my mind there can never be enough House/Wilson ‘repartee’.

    I agree with Barbara that there was a lot of House just being a jerk and I really didn’t like the blackmail attempt. House’s benevolence was too under the surface, but it was there.

    I hope now that the table is set we will see more of the introspective, playing piano in the dark, House!

  • Margdee

    I so love this show but lately, especially with this episode, I felt so sad when it ended. House is so mean, so devious, so quick to punch someone in the face. It’s not attractive anymore. What has happened here? It’s very disturbing.

    David Shore stated he would know by this point in time whether or not there would be another season of HOUSE. Has anyone heard anthing along this line?

  • bluehue

    I couldn’t agree more..with your review. “It lacked gravitas,” which is why I was more intrigued with jerky House in “Fall from Grace.” That episode had meaning, empathy AND a big splash..along with the misbehavior.

    For the first time, I actually found myself not paying attention during “Risky Buisiness,” except during the final scene when House handed Adams the baseball bat, took his seat to watch the bone shattering exercise..securing a pair of safety glasses on his face…did not offer her a protective pair..hmmmm, it made the smash therapy uncomfortable for me..as the broken bits flew. TO DO: Call in the janitor, clean up the mess..and on to next week.
    (Okay..one more “vent.” I didn’t care for the title of “Risky Buisiness either, just too obvious).

  • Allison

    House and Dr Park are the best “team” on tv. Charlyne Yi has brought some much needed life back to the series.

  • The Other Barnett

    Allison, I agree that House and Park are an fun team to watch, but the best? No, cannot go that far.

    Yi is this intellectually stunning, spiritually sardonic, and emotionally/socially stunted being. The fact that she bonds with House at times is a fun thing to watch.

    I’d suggest that Adams and House are building some version of a Cameron/13 thing. House finds Adams attractive, but also finds her brimming with personal qualities that could be exploited or mocked. And she is so much more attractive than Cameron or 13….*purr*.

    I think that the show was flippant on House’s machinations around the PoTW. It did not show the gravity of what was happening with the stroke of the pen (for House and also for the unnamed employees and the daughter).

    But I did watch the episode again, too (HouseMDFan) and I did find myself enjoying it more.

  • djesus

    What a bad ep, no pace, no emotion, House has issues with violence, it’s the only part interesting in this ep.

  • Elisabeth

    I think that we all need to chill a bit and accept that these first few episodes are going to feel funny to us… the devoted fans. The writers are going to take a little time to re-set these characters. I agree with many of you that House, especially, seems light and superficial and maybe not at the center of the show. It makes me nervous. I agree with Barbara that I always want House to be the smartest person in the room. So, change the characters, change the scenery, but don’t change the essential gestalt. That would throw us all off and make us not recognize the House character. And the House character is what we all tune in for…

  • tipitinatoo

    Great review by BB and very insightful comments by all. Although I remain firm that the writing is not up to par, I do concede that I’ve had to watch several of the better shows from prior seasons more than once to fully appreciate them, so you’ve convinced me I need to give this episode another viewing, too, Clearly, all of you are very keen observers. Thanks, and let’s hope we’re all feeling bolstered about our fave M.D. and his team by this time next week. Cheers!

  • GMF

    #5cecile. First off HL has NEVER or NEVER will phone in an episode. I am disgusted with the tone of these so called fans of the show. Like it fine dont then switch off and watch something else. I am sick of all the negatives here and on other sites. You will all be happy no doubt that this may be the last season, and we will loose the best actor on TV. What will you all watch then.

  • Earth Orbiter

    Say what you will; however, to expect dignity from a show whose characters are no longer afforded dignity by its own writers is – at best – quite a leap of faith. “Nobility” has never really been a part of “House, M.D.” writer’s lexicon. David Shore IS a lawyer, after all; worse yet, he’s a lawyer who plays “doctor” the way only a lawyer could, and “gravitas” was a failed philosophical sentiment of a dead civilization.

  • sara

    I miss Cameron :(

  • bluehue

    @Elisabeth, Nice..supportive comment. Officially chilled.

    @sara, I recently read a quote..something like, “the definition of agony is hoping..wishing for something you cannot have.” :(
    Checking out JM’s new show..may help ease your pain.

  • KMC

    From GMF:I am disgusted with the tone of these so called fans of the show. Like it fine dont then switch off and watch something else. I am sick of all the negatives here and on other sites. You will all be happy no doubt that this may be the last season, and we will loose the best actor on TV. What will you all watch then.

    Being long time fans has earned us the right to be critical of the show we all watch. That fact that you are reading so many negative reviews here and on other sites should be telling you something…people don’t like what they’re seeing and what’s happening to the show they love. For me personally..I’ve seen too many shows that I’ve cared about take a long slow slide down to mediocrity because The Powers That Be didn’t know enough to call it a day and wrap things up. I was hoping that wouldn’t happen to House, and I still have hope that they can bring the characters and the show to a satisfying conclusion…but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with what I’m seeing now…and I’m not going to lie and say I am. I admire Hugh Laurie’s and RSL’s work…seen them both live and it was worth the trip every time…and I will keep watching House and hope for the best.

  • Cyndi Tessler

    Barbara, You are right on target. I keep having this nagging feeling that since this is the last season, the writers have mentally quit already. The episodes are dragging. House is just too much of an ass, it’s getting old. And yes, he did help Parks, but too much of the show is him being a low life. In addition, I find myself rewinding to understand what Parks says. My sister told me last week that she has sopped watching as she can’t understand a word Parks says.
    We’re not that old, Parks just mumbles. I understand it’s her character, but really annoying! Glad Chase and Taub are coming back on Monday. Does Taub now have two children?

  • The Other Barnett

    Cyndi @45

    If Taub has two children, I hope House can find some enjoyable pop reference to stick the needle in a bit….or he could go into Hebrew history and reference Jacob’s preference for one wife (and therefor children) over the other(s).

  • AreKay

    Lost electricity last Saturday afternoon due to winter storm Alfred and didn’t get it back until last evening so I missed “Risky Business”. The cable is still out but it better be back before 9 PM Monday or things may get ugly!!!

  • Earth Orbiter

    THREE days without TV? The horror!

  • rsg

    For the first time ever I’ve actually waited to re-watch episodes of House. I’ve just started watching season 7 once more, and tonight watched ep 2 again. It struck me that, unlike lately when watching House, in the first 15 minutes I laughed at the dialog, was impressed by the chemistry between House and Cuddy, (ok- of course that’s not happening now), and then House and Wilson….and enjoyed the differential between House and his team.
    Boy do I miss those days! It wasn’t clear to me how much I was missing that until reviewing this last season 7 episode…..sigh. Enough to get me to post again since the last year!!
    Barbara, thanks for the great work you do- I love this blog , though I miss many of your past consistent posters, and your book:)

  • Susan

    @rsg – I saw a rerun last week of “Top Secret” and that also got me missing the old days on “House”. The banter and spark between House and Cuddy, House and Wilson, House catheterizing himself when he couldn’t pee for days, etc.

    Risky Business was both boring and made me dislike House more, his financial scheming, having Adams bash the medical equipment, and worst of all, the shenanigans with the next door orthopedics department…….Come on, he shines a light into the eyes of a doctor with a saw, cutting a cast off….This gets more ridiculous than the usual.

    For the first time in a year and a half my husband refused to sit down and watch House. He said it’s boring, specifically without Cuddy. And to EarthOrbiter – I’m not an enslaved LE fan (I watched her once on the Good Wife and that was enough) but I thought and still think that Cuddy was the light of the hospital and that whether she’s with House as a couple or not, the show is not the same without her.

  • Earth Orbiter

    “Slavering,” not “enslaved.”

  • AreKay

    @Earth Orbiter-
    It’s now been SIX days with no TV…I’m going through withdrawl!!! LOL!!!

  • Earth Orbiter

    @AreKay: TV withdrawal: muscle cramps, nausea, diarrhea… Bummer.

  • Oversimplified

    Great review Barbara. Thank you. I think this episode was an example of where they do try and layer on the jerk with a trowel and then temper it, unsuccessfully, with ‘benevolent’ acts that aren’t actually that benevolent. One of the problems though is that it just doesn’t tally with what happened the week before in ‘Charity Case’ where House told the patient to give the money to his family, as people have pointed out. I’m afraid that in this move ‘Back to Basics’ and being case-centric again, they seem to have made the protagonist’s personality into a moveable feast that’ll suit the plot each week, rather than what it’s always been in my opinion,- character-led. Contrary to Shore’s assertion that he doesn’t change, he does now: weekly. In ‘Risky Business’ House was pretty much a parody of himself, but a cruel one and much more Moriarty than Holmes.

    I just didn’t see the humour in making another Doctor physically sick and then nearly punching them, all because they are going about their business in the space that you sacrificed when you quite rightly went to prison. The tricks House used to play on the other doctors were once intelligent and, on the whole, more annoying than harmful. This wasn’t anything close to intelligent, and I’m afraid this whole new thread of him expressing himself through violence is diminishing the genius that he was once portrayed to be. It’s also weak writing. It’s one thing punching Chase because you feel massively betrayed by him, but another to go to punch someone because they are practicing medicine in the area that your department once inhabited. I mean, really?! In my eyes he’s becoming an unpalatable bully like Tritter, Vogler and his own father. It really is getting increasingly harder to reconcile the fact that a couple of years ago these same people were getting plaudits from NAMI for highlighting mental illness when here their protagonist threatens to use China’s cultural dismissal of it as weakness against his patient; or indeed that they were writing episodes worthy of a Humanitas nomination (‘Help Me’) when now they resort to violence for both ‘humourous’ and ‘dramatic’ purposes at every opportunity. What the Hell happened?

    The logic and morality of him securing the money for the funding of the department was flawed too. Whatever way you look at it, insisting someone sign a major deal so you can benefit from insider trading so soon after treatment, is morally and legally dubious regardless of whether or not he’d already made up his mind. Once upon a time there’d have been an in-depth delving into the consequences rather than a weakly argued dismissal of patriotism that ignores the fact that although China has a cheap workforce, they also treat them like dirt and aren’t exactly familiar with human rights. What about all the people who’d been loyal and would lose their jobs? Them possibly not being able to afford to pay their mortgages or the insurance for their healthcare, and the effect this would have on them and their families was completely glossed over. I get the feeling that for a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs as a result of the recession, that wouldn’t sit too well with them. At this point they really can’t afford to alienate any more viewers right now either. House ‘needing’ the DDX room back and even Chase and Taub, (God knows I’ll be happy to see them at this point), as a justification for his actions doesn’t make too much sense either. I doubt a larger area in which to insult the ducklings would make too much difference to the treatment of patients, and the fact that he hasn’t lost a patient since he came back from prison seems to indicate that the department is functioning well enough without them. Let’s be honest, the whole thing was a contrived means of getting ‘back to normal’, but also an unwitting means of damaging the character further. That end scene where he handed Adams the baseball bat didn’t come across as him helping her out, but more like him dragging her down to his level. There was a massive parallel between House and the POTW here, in that them securing the future of their respective company/department was more out of pride and vanity than any altruistic need to make amends: this was where Nouri’s anecdote about the Chinese CEO of the company who went bust after generations of building temples came into play. There was no sympathy for his or that person’s workers. Just the fear that he’d be humiliated in the same way, and similarly House re-aquiring his work space and some of his former team felt more like him getting some of his self-worth back, rather him getting his department back fit for purpose. Yeah sure he gave Foreman more money than he necessarily needed, but he did make that money on the backs of people probably losing access to the healthcare that the hospital provides. With Cuddy gone and Wilson taking a backseat, (and basically providing summaries of what’s gone on during the episodes for those who haven’t kept up or who left in the middle for refreshments), there’s nobody left to really challenge him, which I always thought was important and is generally with anybody in a position of power. He and Foreman agree to not get in each other’s way, Taub and Chase always do what he says anyway, and as much as they try to push Park and Adams into Cuddy’s role to varying degrees they are still his subordinates. In effect House is getting what he ‘wants’ and not what he ‘needs’, which is a dangerous prospect for a character that has a ‘God Complex’ that’s now more rampant than ever. It’s also less interesting to watch and displays less finesse from the writers. It’s easy to create a character who’s an outright jerk, but much harder to write one who has some really dubious characteristics, but who nevertheless incites empathy and identification. I felt neither of those for House in this episode and it’s at times like these that I miss what Lawrence Kaplow and Doris Egan brought to the table: the ability to make these flawed characters human and three-dimensional.

    One thing this episode did cement in my mind was that Fox are interfering left, right and centre in the creative process. I’m expecting anti-abortion and pro-gun rights stories at some point this season.

  • Earth Orbiter

    @Oversimplifed – Re your last paragraph: I wouldn’t worry about that. The writers are not that deep, nor are they particularly up to speed on sociopolitical issues.

  • lobentti

    Well, a jerk in love is quite different from a jerk :/ And, by the way, why are they keeping this anti-love Thaub story? Boring, boring,boring…

  • smk46

    oversimplified, in your first two paragraphs #54, you have put your finger on what is the real problem with this season. well said but too true, alas, for gregory house and us viewers who have loved him.

  • Blacktop

    Oversimplified, what a superb summary of “House’s” ills this season. I am afraid that with the absence of Lawrence Kaplow, Doris Egan, Lisa Edelstein, and Katie Jacobson, the show has lost it’s heart… and it’s way.

  • elliecatt

    I thought it was just me having a ‘sour grapes’ attitude about the direction my once favourite show has taken. I am so glad to know that it isn’t just me that sees it. except for a handful of posts the overwhelming consensus is that the show has lost a step and the qualities that once made it so awesome and so different than anything else out there. I last posted in May after the debacle of a season finale, so disappointed and grief-stricken over what DS had done that I was not going to even return to follow the show this season. in the end I began to follow this season, albeit awhile after it began. I had never removed the record time from my DVR. I watch only because I am such a fan of Hugh Laurie but I gotta say that along with the whole show, even Hugh isn’t nearly up to his potential. someone made the comment of him ‘phoning it in’ and I wholeheartedly agree. I just can’t get over what has been done. fine, I know LE left, but FOREMAN?? REALLY??!? its not like he was even remotely likeable before (IMO. I have disliked this humourless, arrogant git from the first season. I always enjoyed seeing him put firmly back in his place. if they wanted to further humiliate and drag down the character of Greg House this was a great start by making Foreman DEAN. it made me nauseous to see that condescending fart put in charge of House. to me he has always been disingenuous, slightly malevolent, definitely too big for his britches and not to be trusted. here again, my opinion only. love Omar, hate Foreman. but that isn’t the whole issue here. I think I am the only one who dislikes the idea of Foreman being Dean and House’s boss. the show already went off the rails with season 7’s finale and unless something miraculous happens it is beyond redemption. the two newbies are grating and unnecessary in that order. Yi’s character is just a joke and the other one is clearly supposed to be Cameron #2. she isn’t compelling enough to be a fitting replacement for 13. they need to go. sooner than later. while I am thrilled that Chase and Taub are returning, I doubt that even they can inject any new life into this shell of a show. House is nothing more that a tired buffoon now, with none of the broody, soulful and dark intensity that made him SO completely interesting. (and slightly intimidating). the GH of old was an ass, true, but he was an ass I respected, and the underlying influence his pain had on him made him cranky as hell, but he was by god a frickin GENIUS anyway. a force to be reckoned with. not someone you were compelled to like, but someone you could respect by virtue of the fact that they had a gift nobody else even came close to. over the years his character has lightened up some, sometimes too much IMO but still retained the darker introspection. now he’s just a caricature, as so many have stated. now he is not only unlikeable, but not respectable and too over the top juvenile. he’s SILLY. not in a good way. with Cuddy gone there is a huge hole, no question, but the writers could have tried harder to make it work. they have pushed too many changes, none of them good and at this point I think I watch for the train-wreck value more than anything. that and the weak hope that something great will happen. but, and let me once again clarify that this is only MY opinion, the bottom line is that David Shore created the show, and it was his to destroy. which he has done, masterfully. he comes off as a narcissistic, arrogant jerk who doesn’t give a toss about his fans if it interferes with what he wants to do. what he wanted to do obviously is to take a unique, genius thing of beauty that was close to magical to watch and twist it to such a complete mess that all its loyal fans are sent into mourning for what once was. much of this was said tongue-in-cheek, everyone. I said ‘much’, not ‘all’! I’ve gone on way too long anyway. in the end, while I think the show COULD be redeemed, I don’t expect it to be. it feels like nobody cares anymore and that, more than anything, is a crying shame. House, the show and the character deserved so much more. so does Hugh.

  • BrokenLeg

    54 @ Oversimplified
    As 57 @smk46 & 58@Blacktop,I agree in all your so devilish well articulated post, that is a clear resume of all the problems we’re finding this season. I couldn’t agree more!!…Except your last paragraph. As 55@ Earth Orbiter, I don’t think FOX will never interfere in sociopolitical issues. By the way, Earth Orbiter, your @41 post is good too.
    As 45@Cyndi Tessler has said:”.. the writers have mentally quit already”, or more properly, maybe quitted mid past season!…Sadly

  • BrokenLeg

    59@elliecat
    My friend, “It isn’t only just you”. And yes, “the overwhelming consensus is that the show has lost a step and the qualities that once made it so awesome and so different than anything else out there”. And not only in this BB thread. Visit other forums, and you can see the same feeling ( I ask myself if TPTB visit them from time to time).
    And yes, as you noted: “House is nothing more that a tired buffoon now, with none of the broody, soulful and dark intensity that made him SO completely interesting”.
    But the rest of your post is so hopeless that hurts. It hurts to see deep and so much sadness in it. To your comfort, maybe something great may still happen. At least on a recent interview, HL spoke about a BIG EVENT to come. “Colossal” one he defined it. Maybe that can be the so much needed “turning point” this season, who knows……

  • Oversimplified

    @55 Earth Orbiter & 60 BrokenLeg

    Oh I don’t know. I’ve read too much about both the news and Film/TV arm of Fox to be surprised by anything. All stations/networks have mission statements that might as well be statements of political intent. If/when the ratings worsen anymore they’ll interfere all the more. It’s also happening with ‘Family Guy’ which has just aired a pretty dubious ep revolving around domestic violence, when a while back they censored an ep that was essentially pro-abortion. As this new ‘violent angle’ is further explored I’ll not be surprised if they have mini tanks with the word ‘kaboom’ emblazoned on the side rolling down the corridors of PPTH in a new take on product placement.

    By the way are they just ignoring the issues with the pain in his leg?

  • AreKay

    Finally got my cable back after nine days(I can watch tonight’s episode of HOUSE – Hooray!!!) but my celebration is tempered by the fact that thousands here in CT are still cold and in the dark without electricity. Winter storm Alfred did tremendous tree and power line damage. It is estimated that full power may not be restored till Wednesday or perhaps Thursday.

  • Earth Orbiter

    AreKay: Even with all of our technology, Mother Nature can still come along and kick our @ss. I spent the day shoving the 18″ of snow that fell yesterday (Alaska). In any event, welcome back to civilization.

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