Tuesday, October 12, 2010

House “Massage Therapy” Recap & Review

All photos from Fox

House and Cuddy’s relationship needs a little massaging in this episode of House (Fox), “Massage Therapy.” The episode was only passable, spending too much time on House (Hugh Laurie) and Cuddy's (Lisa Edelstein) relationship issues, superimposed on a story of an uninteresting patient. Also, the team also added a new doctor – Kelly Benedict – at Cuddy’s insistence, with Dr. Chase (Jesse Spencer) doing the hiring, and House does his usual antagonistic routine with her and the staff. The episode did have entertaining moments, but the show seems to be devoid of the drama that made the series so popular in its early years and is becoming more like a light comedy.

The patient of the week is Margaret McPherson, who comes to Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital because of severe vomiting and stomach pain. The staff, along with new Dr. Kelly, works to diagnose her problem, House taunting Chase about Kelly’s resemblance to Chase's mother and taunting Kelly about her suggested diagnoses. It’s the usual routine. The patient, however, is not who she seems, and appears that she has assumed another identity in order to conceal her schizophrenia from her husband, Bryce (Zachary Knighton). The diagnosis would have come sooner had House kept an open mind to Kelly’s suspicion that the woman is suffering from a mental disorder. Clearly House has trouble listening to anybody other than himself. It never ceases to amaze me that House, who is supposed to be one of the best diagnosticians in the country, continues to go into cases with a closed mind about his team, and is also often wrong more than once in an episode. The series seems more concerned with House’s personal relationships than it does about making House a credible expert diagnostician.

Dr. Kelly eventually quits at the end of the case, leaving her free to be with Chase, which is what House felt Chase wanted anyway. It’s what viewers figured too, so there was no drama here, either.

House and Cuddy are still going through growing pains from their relationship, with House waking up in bed alone because Cuddy doesn’t spend the night. But when House calls in his regular masseuse, who is also a hooker, Cuddy draws the line and demands he stop. His answer is to get her a male masseuse all of her own, and she is somewhat quick to strip naked for a stranger in her own office. Yes, sure, nothing like someone who is in charge of a hospital removing all her clothes for someone she doesn’t even know while she’s at work. I am convinced that Cuddy is a dumb as a post and doesn’t have respect for her position at the hospital. When she finds out the masseuse is a male (gay) hooker, she aborts the process and confronts House about it. He eventually caves and agrees to get rid of his hooker masseuse, and she agrees to have House spend some time at her place and with her daughter, Rachel, who chews on his cane. He thinks she’s adorable and it looks like House and Cuddy have overcome another hurdle.

It wasn’t a strong episode of House (Fox). The series does have very likeable characters and likeable stars that play them, but the show is running out of gas when it comes to creative ways of telling the same story every week.. I suppose that the relationship between House and Cuddy is supposed to be the draw; my problem is that these two have been doing the dance for so long that now they are doing the deed, the spark is gone. With House becoming more domesticated and more incorporated into Cuddy’s life, he’s become dull. I always wanted House to grow out of his drug addicted persona, but didn’t want him to become completely tame. House needs a new conflict and a new challenge to bring back the edginess that used to be his hallmark, and I don’t think it will come as long as he is in a relationship with Cuddy. The series is still entertaining – it’s just not compelling.

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