Monday, November 30, 2015

House, MD (Season 3-5)

House, M.D.; drama series, USA, 2007-2009; D: Greg Yaitanes, David Straiton, Daniel Attias, Miguel Spochnik, S: Hugh Laurie, Jesse Spencer, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Lisa Edelstein, Peter Jacobson, Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, Anne Dudek

Since he fired his assistant, Chase, and the other two of his members - Foreman and Cameron - left his team, Dr. House is now left alone in the hospital department. Since needs a diagnostics team, ordered by the head of the hospital, Cuddy, House starts a doctor's audition featuring about 40 candidates which he eliminates one by one after each case. In the end, House opts for Dr. Taub, Remy "13" and Kutner, whereas one of the eliminated candidates, Dr. Amber Volakis, starts a relationship with House's friend, Wilson. Kutner commits suicide, which leaves House with "13" and Taub. At the end, House starts exhibiting signs of hallucinations, caused by his Vicodin intake, which threatens his career.

After the first two seasons kicked off with a rather shaky start, seasons 3 to 5 finally saw the rise of the creative level of the real "House MD" and consolidated the title character, who hereby imbibed the form he would be remembered for the most. The writers were presented with the typical formula of the show - a patient arrives with a disease no one is able to identify, until House solves the mystery at the end - but what they did when they played and twisted the formula standards to give something original was, at times, pure genius. Episodes 3.3 and 3.4, in which a girl (Leighton Meester) developed a crush on House, was sweet and featured a few good lines ("I was listening to her heart. It went: 'Greg House. Greg House'"), though the whole third and fourth season were simply superabundant with a whole array of inspired, delicious and incredibly witty dialogues that are music to the ears ("I get why you don't want to go to rehab. But only an idiot goes to prison because he is stubborn." - "Only an idiot stands between Ahab and his whale! Move it!"; "I always look on the bright side of life. I think Cuddy's C-cup is always half-full."; House and Wilson arguing: "Ah, yes, if it isn't Dr. Ironside!" - "Ah yes, if it isn't Dr. I had no friends when I was growing up so all I did was watch TV by myself, so now I can make constant pop culture references which no one understands but me!"; a kid misreads what House wrote on the board: "What's "extension of pastoring"?" - "It's when you're molested by priest's cousin."; the howlingly funny sequence when Cameron interrupts House in the most awkward timing, when he is wondering about hypogonadism: "What causes headaches, rage, personality disorder and hypogonadism?" - "...Where's Foreman?" - "He is still mad at me." - "Why?" - "No reason... Male genitals are controlled by pituitary gland... (House turns around to Cameron as if to assure her) We're not talking about Foreman anymore").

However, the Cameron-Chase-Foreman interaction with House became somehow strangely stiff and lax after a while in season 3, which is why it was a good idea to have them "take a break" for a while and start the 4th season with a completely new cast, opening the way for House's hilarious audition of some 40 doctors which will become his new team. One of the highlights is episode 4.2, "The Right Stuff", written by Doris Egan and Leonard Dick: from the fantastic sneaky candidate character of Amber (when the candidates get the assignment to wash House's car, Amber publicly protests that they, the doctors, are "too good for this" and leaves, which causes numerous others candidates to follow her and quit in disgust, except for Kutner. After a while, though, Amber suddenly returns to wash the car, anyway, which causes the puzzled Kutner to ask her: "Changed your mind?" - "No." - "Then why are you back?" - "I never intended to quit. I intended everyone else to quit.") up to the childish, common sense jokes (Kutner, candidate with the number "6", is fired by House, but he secretly returns to the class with the upside down number "9"), everything is done right in this small chef-d'Ĺ“uvre, one of the best episodes of all time. Anne Dudek also probably gave the role of a lifetime as Amber, perfectly balancing out her cynicism and charm.

Even in this arc, some episodes tend to become tiresome and routine, but are always refreshed by several inventive plots: episode 3.18, "Airborne", for instance, which features House sealed off in an airplane flying over North Pole, who is faced with an epidemic of a sick man and has no team for support (so he makes one boy mimic Chase's Australian accent and another passenger to always agree with him, like Foreman, to conjure up the mood in the clinic), or 4.11, "Frozen", where House has to diagnose a sick psychiatrist (excellent guest appearance by Mira Sorvino) on the South Pole only via skype: brilliant concept, brilliant episode. Of course, the final two episodes, 4.15 and 4.16, "House's Head" and "Wilson's Heart", need to be mentioned as well. "House's Head" is an instant classic - he wakes up in a strip club, figures he has a head injury and cannot remember how he got there, and then exits to find a crashed bus, and figures he was one of the passengers, going on  a quest to assemble what happened - and presents flawless writing with such a strong 'plot twist' that it is better not to talk about it too much. 4.16 is also good, though overhyped and weaker, evidently making a questionable decision to remove one of the best new characters from the show. Season 5 is somewhat weaker, though it still has several great dialogues ("Look at the time! It's half past Taub lying about Kutner!") and ends with 5.22-5.24, which offer a strong, magnificently directed finale that intrigues genuinely. Seasons 3-5 may be considered House's annus mirabilis since they gave a lot from the concept, and nicely circled out the arc - so nicely, in fact, many will not resist to watch the next seasons immediately afterwards.


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