Wednesday, November 12, 2008

House ‘The Itch”: Scratching Makes It Worse

This episode of House, titled “The Itch” made me want to scratch out my eyes. Why? It’s the horror of all horrors for this show: House (Hugh Laurie) seems itching for more to his relationship with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). I urge him not to scratch that itch.

House’s and Cuddy’s preoccupation with THE KISS from the previous episode, ”Joy”, almost destroyed the potential for an almost interesting case with the Patient Of The Week, Stewart Nozick (Todd Louiso), who is an agoraphobic. He becomes ill inside his home, and since he refuses to leave his home for treatment, it opens the show up for a ridiculous story. Ultimately, as they can’t bring Stewart to the hospital, they have to treat him in his home. As his case becomes more complicated, they decide to fake him out and make him think he’s being operated on in his own home. Once he’s under anesthesia, they transport him to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital for the surgery, and then plan to return him home afterwards. Things go awry why Dr. Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) decides to wake him from anesthesia and tell him what’s going on. He panics of course, and the operation won’t continue. Later, though, in a clear shark-jumping moment for the show, they actually bring all the equipment to the Stewart’s home to perform the surgery on him there. During the surgery, Dr. Taub (Peter Jacobson) accidentally ignites the gas coming from Stewart’s intestines and he is burned, and in the presence of his lawyer, no less. Cameron stays with him after the surgery, and despite the fact that House tries to switch his IV to saline, Cameron made sure Stewart still got morphine. House is interested when, despite the morphine, Stewart was still having stomach pain. House deduces the pain he had while still on morphine must mean lead poisoning, and, finding an area hear the man’s hip where he suffered a gunshot wound, cuts him open while he is not anesthetized and picks out pieces of the bullet. He's cured! House then berates Stewart for keeping himself locked up in his own home and deluding himself to thinking this makes him happy. Of course, this is just the impetus Stewart needs to make his first walk outside the house in a long time. He's cured again!

But, during the backdrop of diagnosing the unfortunate patient, House is dropping comments all over the place about what happened between him and Cuddy, saying "I kinda hit that last night, so now she's all up on my jock. " It seems that everything thinks he’s kidding, except for Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). And, in typical Wilson form, he seems compelled to stick his nose into the matter, going so far as discussing it with Cuddy. He quizzes her on why she's never thought of House "that way." She goes into a long explanation of how she thinks it would all have played out, clearly a sign that she HAS thought of him that way. Later in the episode, Wilson admits to Cuddy that he's always had feelings for her. She seems interested and asks him on a date the next night, and then she suggests they just have sex in front of House's office. She then tells Wilson that she got his point, which apparently is to make House jealous so he'd realize he should be with Cuddy.

Meanwhile, Drs. Cameron and Chase ( Jesse Spencer ) seem to be having some troubles of their own, Cameron not willing to make room at her place for Chase, and Chase not willing to wait any more for her to come around. Things are made worse when it seems that Cameron’s soft spot for flawed people kicks into high gear when it seems she’s staying at his place to watch over him while they work on his case.

During all this, the self-centered House also seems obsessed with a mosquito bite, even to the point that he dreams he blows up his apartment by accident trying to kill it. I suppose, though, the whole purpose of the mosquito bite is symbolic of the “itch” that he seems to be experiencing when it comes to Cuddy. Too obvious?

It must be nice for this whole team of doctors to only have one case to work on that they can just leave the hospital en masse and focus all their attention on one patient. It doesn’t seem realistic to me. I thought another huge stretch was performing an operation in the man’s home. Does that happen in the real world? I found the whole premise ludicrous.

One good thing about the episode was the fact that they brought in Chase and Cameron for a little more than just a few seconds on the screen, and they put the other three doctors in the background. I believe that those two are much more interesting that the new three. And it seemed that the three newbie doctors were a little miffed at the ease in which Cameron interacted with House; she seemed to be answering his questions directly just to help the conversation move on. I am sure they will learn their lesson that you can't fight House's childish streak or his need to intimidate or belittle his colleagues.

But there is something wrong with this show as of late. House seems to be regressing, becoming more juvenile with every week. His response to his kiss with Cuddy was something I would have expected from a 11 year old who just had his first kiss with a girl behind the bushes near the grade school playground. And while they make references to House’s continued drug problem, his real problem is that he seems emotionally stunted in his relationships with his colleagues and people in general. In fact, everybody on the show seems to be acting like they are juveniles that don’t know the first thing about “big people” relationships. I am starting to believe that the show is trying to appeal to a much younger demographic, and seeing that the show airs at 8:00 PM, maybe they are trying to catch the teen crowd? Seriously, during the first year or so of this show, it seemed to be a compelling drama that had grown up acting people in grown up scenarios. Now, I feel like I am watching a soap opera for teens.

But what really gets me are these overly contrived scenarios that seem to be placed there just to give the illusion that the characters are outside their comfort zone. It seems odd that a person who won’t leave their home is the excuse they use to get ALL the characters (except Wilson and Cuddy) out of the confines of the hospital. It is almost believable, up until they decide to put the whole staff on the case and seemingly move a surgical set up and other hospital equipment into the home. It must be nice to have a hospital where so many specialists can work on only one case and take vital equipment out of a hospital to tend to one patient’s needs. It just does not ring true, and that’s what I dislike about what is happening to the show.

The episode leads up to Stewart taking a walk outside the confines of his house, Cameron clearing some drawer space for Chase, House letting a mosquito go free and then acting stalker-like outside Cuddy’s window, then walking away.

My hope is that House would just keep on walking and stay away from Cuddy. I have every hope that the show just drops this story arc, because frankly I find it worse that the ever annoying Stacy story line that we had to deal with in a previous season. I am not sure if I care any more if House finds love. I just want House to re-engage his BRAIN.

I have to admit that I don’t know what I want from this show anymore, except maybe to tell the writers to look back at their first season and try to recapture the real drama that the show had as viewers discovered the many layers of House. House now seems to have become a two-dimensional character, without depth, substance, and grown-up behaviors. I can only hope that one day the writers will stop reading fan forums or catering to the fantasies of teenage fangirls. It’s no wonder that the show continues to lose viewers and that NCIS is seemingly trouncing it in the ratings. It’s because grown ups are fleeing in droves.




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3 comments:

Annie said...

You've expressed everything I felt about the episode perfectly. Can I send you virtual chocolate? Rose petals?

Especially this:

I just want House to re-engage his BRAIN.
I have to admit that I don’t know what I want from this show anymore, except maybe to tell the writers to look back at their first season and try to recapture the real drama that the show had as viewers discovered the many layers of House. House now seems to have become a two-dimensional character, without depth, substance, and grown-up behaviors. I can only hope that one day the writers will stop reading fan forums or catering to the fantasies of teenage fangirls. It’s no wonder that the show continues to lose viewers and that NCIS is seemingly trouncing it in the ratings. It’s because grown ups are fleeing in droves.


Sadly, given what Katie Jacobs said in an interview today, the teenage fantasies will continue. And the remaining adults in the audience will be the poorer for it.

I Like to Watch TV said...

Hi Annie - your feedback is the best reward!

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. I think it is time they consider dropping all regular cast members except for Hugh Laurie and sending House off to a new setting with all new characters who can challenge his character. I like the actors who play Wilson, Cuddy and Foreman but if they are going to be written down instead of up, they are keeping House down as well.