Tuesday, November 10, 2009

House “Known Unknowns” A Weird Episode

Photo from Fox

After an absence due to the World Series, House (Fox) finally returns with an episode that can best be described as weird. The pacing was off, the storyline was off, the dialog was off, and the whole thing was just a mess.

The patient of the week was a young girl who becomes ill after managing to get into an after concert party with her friend. The day after the concert, she tells her other friends that she managed to hang out with one of the bad members, and when they notice her feet and hands swelling, she collapses. She finds herself in Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, where, as usual, they poke, prod, test and treat her to find out what is wrong. Coming up with the correct diagnosis is hard as her condition causes her to lie about everything. It’s a rather dull case that House will solve – later, of course, because that's the formula for this show. It’s a given that the patient is always just a backdrop for House’s own storylines and I am OK with that, but for some reason this patient didn’t seem to enhance the story at all.

Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) has plans for House (Hugh Laurie) to accompany him to a medical conference. House doesn’t want to go. When House gets to the hospital, he goes to see Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) who is in an unusually low cut top, and we get various shots of her cleavage, and her backside that is outfitted with a skintight skirt. We get the usual sexually demeaning comments from House, something that doesn’t seem to rattle Cuddy. The problem is, it should. This is one matter where I continue to voice my disappointment with the show, and their need to paint Cuddy as strictly a sexual object. They repeatedly do not show her the respect she should have for her role as the hospital’s head administrator. I would have less problem with it if they made Cuddy into a character who was a little stronger in presenting a positive image as a woman as a professional, not make her into someone whose main goal is to find a man , and who dresses not for work, but for a night of clubbing.

When House and Wilson go to leave, House finds out that Cuddy is also going to the conference, and he decides that he’ll attend after all. Of course, while agreeing to do so has to throw in another comment about her being some sort of trollop. I can’t recall if that was his exact word, but if not, you get the idea. Cuddy has to being her baby to the conference too, which I also thought was a little unrealistic but we will later find it is just a plot device. When House gets to the conference, he takes the ID of some other doctor. This will come in handy later.

Making matters worse, this medical conference – the complete contents outlined in a tiny 3-page pamphlet, very unrealistic for a real medical conference – has some sort of 1980’s themed party. House arrived dressed up for the 1780s. I guess it must be very easy for someone to get a costume like this on a moment’s notice, seeing that House wasn’t even planning to go to the conference to begin with. His appearance in costume would have been better had he actually dressed for the 1980s. Cuddy, of course, is dressed in provocative attire and she and House dance. We are then assaulted with horribly written dialog about their early times together, and I find that my mind is tuning out. These are two adult talking like they are teenagers at a high school dance, and it seemed rather forced. I found the whole scene silly.

Meanwhile, Drs. Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) are having marital problems. She thinks he’s cheating, we all know it’s because he killed Dibala a few episodes back. This actually could have been the more interesting story line of the episode but it only received very clichéd treatment of a couple having marital problems.

When Cuddy has babysitter problems, Wilson convinces House to help Cuddy baby sit her daughter. When he goes there to offer his services, she lies to him and tells him the baby is in day care. But, when cries from the baby come from inside Cuddy’s room, House enters and sees that Lucas (Michael Weston), the weird private investigator House previously hired, is there taking care of the baby. She needs someone who she can depend on, and Lucas seems to be that guy. I am unimpressed because I didn’t like the character of Lucas when he first showed up on this series, and think that Cuddy must really have issues if this is the best man she can get.

House, however, is very worried about Wilson when he finds out that Wilson is going to address the medical conference to talk about euthanasia – in favor of it and even admitting that he’s done it. Of course, House’s answer to this is to drug Wilson so Wilson can’t give the speech. Where did House get the drugs I wonder? Shouldn’t that be of some concern that an addict like him can still get his hands on something that can knock out Wilson?

House then gives Wilson’s speech under the name of the stolen doctor's ID. Wilson comes in at the tail end of it, finally waking up in time. Wilson is upset but House says he got Wilson’s ideas out there without Wilson actually having to risk his job and career to do so. What I find strange is that Wilson’s opinion about euthanasia seemed to just drop out of the sky. He’s always been someone who seems to be very open about his feeling about treating his patients, and it was odd that his feelings on this issue seemed to go unnoticed by his closest friends.

While House and Wilson argue about what House did, Wilson says a trigger word – there has to be a trigger word in every episode – that gives House the diagnosis for the patient of the week. She is, of course, diagnosed with vibrio vulnificus and hemochromatosis and then cured. I find that I could care less.

Afterwards, House and Wilson have lunch with Cuddy and Lucas, and Cuddy admits that she hired Lucas to investigate an accounting problem and one thing led to another. She says she kept the relationship secret, as she doesn't like to advertise her personal life. I am thinking that she sure loves to advertise her body, though, so what would be the big deal in talking about a relationship? I have come to the conclusion that Cuddy is messed up in the head. Lucas then starts running at the mouth, and for someone who is a PI he sure seems to be a little too chatty about personal things. It seems clear to me that the Cuddy is a poor judge of people and appears to have some self esteem problems. In her position in the hospital, one would think she would have professional contacts in her field that would make better candidates for a relationship than Lucas. With every passing episode, I feel like Cuddy is becoming more and more of a mess of a character and more insulting to women everywhere.

At the end of the episode, the only evidence of drama is when Chase admits to Cameron that he killed Dibala.

“Known Unknowns” was a bit of a train wreck, being a collision of a bad medical case, an “out of the blue” revelation about Wilson and euthanasia, Cuddy’s continued morphing into a bimbo, and House just being up to his old tricks. It was a shame that after having to wait so long for a new episode, that viewers had to sit through this episode, which seemed poorly conceived and poorly written. Viewers deserved better.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © iliketowatchtv.blogspot.com unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

1 comment:

Kate said...

I really love this review. You said everything I felt about this episode. It was, in the words of my teenager, very random.

You made several points that are so right such as where did House get the costume? or the drugs to knock out Wilson? or why Cuddy doesn't tell her supposeded BFFs House and Wilson about Lucas because she wants to keep her private life private but keeps her body very public.

And one more thing that I found spot on -- that the better story in the episode could have been Chase and Cameron dealing with his guilt and her suspicions but it was handled in a very cliche and throw-away manner because the emphasis was on House/Cuddy/Lucas. The former could have been adult and multi-faceted, the latter was back to teendom. The focus of the past two seasons on House's personal soap opera is diminishing the show.

Wilson's paper was on euthansia; Chase's guilt was about causing Dibala's death. If only someone on the writing staff had remembered that Cameron had euthansized someone herself three seasons ago and tied all three stories together. But maybe that's the point, to keep Cameron and Chase in their own bubble, away from the "grown-ups" at the conference.