It’s the pacing. I finally figured out what’s been (ever so slightly) bothering me during this season of House. It’s the pacing. Okay, so I didn’t figure it out myself. A sage poster over on a House, MD forum (House's House of Whining) figured it out. Every episode this season (except perhaps the first episode, "Alone") has sped along at a hugely fast pace. Lots of characters, lots of fun, very enjoyable. But slightly lacking (for me) in those quietly reflective moments: House alone pondering a problem or the meaning of something; House at his piano, playing some melancholy tune; House deep in conversation with a patient.
We’ve had bits of that (well, except the piano part) scattered amongst the eight episodes we’ve had so far this season. A (quick) moment of reflection as House contemplates risking his life for an experiment on himself in “97 seconds;” a brief scene with the young patient in “Ugly;” the scene in last night’s episode with 13, where she tells House that his quest for answers can’t stop because if it does, he’ll run out of hope. (More about that one later.) But the moments have been scattered, brief, and with little long-term impact, like echoes of a bygone era. And I’m really sorry to see them sacrificed for lighter, fun moments, as fun as those are. But I really miss those poignant, provocative, thoughtful scenes, which seem to be so fewer this year.
It’s not that I don’t like this season, and it’s not that I don’t like the episodes themselves, because I do. A lot. I hope (with only four more pre-strike episodes to go) that this changes in the last few as the new team is established and things get back to a new normal. And I hope the WGA strike is settled next week, and the show, itself, has its full fun of 22 episodes to share with us this season with lots and lots of character exploration as interpreted by the wonderful Hugh Laurie.
That said, on to "You Don't Want to Know" (which I thoroughly enjoyed). I love magic. I love trying to figure out magic tricks (and never can); and I appreciate the sleight of hand and dexterity it requires to be good at it. House likes magic too, despite his protestations to the contrary. He’s done magic tricks before — for his own amusement and to have something to do with this hands (I’m thinking particularly of his disappearing poker chip trick in “All In”). He’s told Wilson that he can make a quarter emerge from any orifice (“Top Secret”). I also think House loves to demystify magic tricks. He likes to know how pretty much everything works: things; people; the human body (which is why I think he really became a doctor, by the way); the natural world, etc. So combining magic, magicians, and House is pretty much playing to my weaknesses. Add to that a couple of (way too brief) scenes where House is vulnerable or quietly compassionate and you’ve got a pretty happy camper. So it is with "You Don't Want to Know."