thoughts on pop culture

House Season 6 Episode 10: Wilson

courtesy FOX network

The thing about a really good episode of House is that you realize almost immediately it’s going to be great.

Tonight, I knew before I hit play.

The name of the episode says it all. James Wilson is my favorite character on my favorite show, so a long-overdue episode focused on mainly on him was an excellent surprise.

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December 1, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , | Comments Off on House Season 6 Episode 10: Wilson

House Season 6 Episode 5: Brave Heart

courtesy FOX network

courtesy FOX network

Okay, this parkour thing has gone far enough. I draw the line when I fast forward through the opening of my favorite show because I think it must be a Mountain Dew commercial. Once I hit rewind and started over, I must admit it was a pretty cool change of pace for an opening of House. The changes kept coming as Chase continued to wrestle with the Dibala case and House continued on the road to recovery.

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October 19, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 6 Episode 5: Brave Heart

House Season 6 Episode 3: The Tyrant


courtesy FOX Network

House has posed many intriguing questions during the last five years, and this week’s episode was no exception. Making the doctors question the meaning of “Do No Harm” is exactly the kind of moral dilemma that I’d like to see more shows attempt to tackle. I’m sure the haters out there have simply dismissed the African dictator plot as extremely contrived, but I cannot agree. Other shows are too weak-willed and mainstream to even acknowledge the horrible acts that are committed in countries that most Americans can’t point out on a map. Instead of picking an easier storyline, House went so far as to cast massive star James Earl Jones as the dictator in question. With Boston Legal off the air, it’s great to see another show choosing subject matter that makes viewers think.

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October 8, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Renewed, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on House Season 6 Episode 3: The Tyrant

Mental Episode 1: Pilot


As I mentioned the other day, I had extremely low expectations as I sat back to watch the premiere episode of Mental. It was close, but there was enough meat on the bone to draw me back for at least one more episode. The detailed breakdown is included below.

I have seen many reviews calling Mental a straight-up House clone. In many ways they were absolutely right. Unconventional doctor – Check. Straight-laced female administrator – Check. Breaking and Entering – Check. For crying out loud, even the sets and background music seemed like they had been lifted directly from Princeton Plainsboro.

Unfortunately, some of the really great elements of House were not present in the first episode. A Wilson-like ally was absent, as was any kind of strong link or symmetry between the patient’s case and the lives of the doctors. This is where I’m willing to cut some slack since it’s very hard to make all this happen in a pilot episode.

My main beef as the episode started to wrap up was the biggest missing element – a flaw in our main character, Dr. Jack Gallagher. I think the key to the success of House is that as brilliant and god-like as Dr. Greg House is, he is ultimately made human by his physical limitations and his debilitating addiction to painkillers. We finally got a brief preview of Dr. Jack’s Achilles’ heel in the closing moments of the episode–although I hope it is more than just a woman who got away.

This may seem trivial, but I really thought the clipboard patient file graphic was silly and unnecessary. We don’t need a stupid graphic to realize the guy who thought everyone in the hospital was a lizard was in fact delusional.

Speaking of the ‘patient files’, I checked and Dead Cat Syndrome has nothing to do with freezing your deceased feline friends. It is commonly used to describe two things:

  1. False Logic – Even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a high enough height. It doesn’t mean it has come back to life.
  2. Unwelcome – Corporate IT often describes projects as suffering from Dead Cat Syndrome. In other words, the business is as excited about the project as your neighbor would be if you flung your dead cat over the fence.

I would also like to see a few visual tweaks like making the patient visions less obvious–we don’t need the slow motion/blurry cam visual to realize the old lady isn’t actually having sex with Dr. Jack. Also on the graphics front, I can do without the zipper sound and forehead graphic going into every single commercial break.

Overall, I think the show has potential as long as they aren’t afraid to ditch a few things that didn’t work and move forward. I won’t hold out much hope though since it appears Fox is only looking for Mental to fill a time slot until the big boys are back in the fall. Mental could at least serve as an entertaining diversion this summer if you’re like me and hate being outside in the hot weather.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mental Episode 1: Pilot

House Season 5 Episode 24: Both Sides Now

I am a colossal fool.

I actually bought into last week’s episode and the House-Cuddy hookup that wrapped it up. I can’t believe I didn’t even see this coming.

I’ve said it about a million times–we know that the patients on House always parallel what’s going on outside the exam room. Tonight the patient had ‘alien hand syndrome’ as a result of a procedure to split his brain in two. Oddly, I wasn’t even tipped off to the outcome of the episode when Thirteen made a totally obvious comment about the question of identity raised by their patient. My suspended disbelief even stayed intact as the episode got more and more ridiculous–with House announcing his Cuddy hookup to the entire staff after being encouraged by Wilson to be a bigger asshole than normal! Ultimately, the big reveal showed us that House quitting vicodin cold turkey was just a bunch of shit and that everything since his conversation with Cuddy last week was just a vision.

Despite my disappointment with the reveal, I enjoyed a couple parts of the episode immensely. House treating Cuddy’s potential feelings like an illness to be diagnosed was both funny and true to his character, although ultimately this led to the climax and my disappointment. Better still was the appearance of Carl Reiner as clinic patient Eugene Schwartz. At first I thought this was just an excuse for Reiner to cut up and give House/Cuddy something to fight about. I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreaking revelation that Eugene really had pancreatic cancer all along.

The good lines were spread around tonight:

  • House – “It’s like locking the barn door after the horse got out and it’s had its face between your breasts for an hour and a half.”
  • Wilson, responding to House’s update about getting busy with Cuddy – “Wow. You were sober AND SHE was sober?”
  • Thirteen to Taub about Chase/Cameron – “It’s always a sad thing when sperm comes between people.”
  • House – “Great advice, you pretend I’m gonna do that.”
  • Cuddy to House about his announcement to the staff – “What you did is beyond asshood!”

Another thing sticks with me about this episode. When House retrieved Wilson to assist with the patient in the MRI lab, he told Wilson he needed his special skills. Wilson came and talked the patient in a way that kept him preoccupied while the team could look for the underlying problem. I was left with the impression that even House realizes that Wilson has a talent for interacting with people who have mental problems.

The following are the three notes I wrote, in the order I wrote them, during the big climax scene in Cuddy’s office.

  1. What is going on with House?
  2. Is this whole thing a hallucination?
  3. Are you fucking kidding me?

As I watched the closing montage, I found myself unfulfilled by the Chase/Cameron wedding, even though I wanted them to be together. More importantly, I was shocked to see House actually allowing himself to be taken to rehab. At least I thought it was rehab until I saw the sign over the door that said Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Was House actually committing himself? I guess we’ll find out for sure in a few months, but he made it pretty clear last week that vicodin-induced hallucinations would be easier to overcome than being a wacko–at least from a career perspective. This makes me think it really is rehab, and that it just happens to be a very serious program that actually takes place at a mental institution.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments