Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I didn’t review last week’s Parents because I had so little to say. Team: Teenage girl has MPD and cancer. House: dead child was deaf. It was supposed to have a “shocking twist.” If it was the child’s elaborate sarcophagus being opened, one must assume the promo monkeys never saw a few episodes of NCIS. Or one episode of Supernatural, where the gore-covered bodies pile up like cordwood. As usual, the episode botched the presentation of mental illness. The creators must dislike the mentally ill almost as much as they dislike women. House got punched a few times. Everybody had a glass of sangria and sobbed despairingly on the lawn.
Moving on to The Perils of Paranoia, the cutesy title warning of the stinking mound of ordure that was about to happen. My agonized screams could be heard for miles. My assistant Leo came in with a peach mango martini pour moi and stared at the flat screen in disbelief. “Why are you watching this crap?”
“I don’t know…” I gasped. “It used to be Hugh Laurie but he’s had all of this plastic surgery and he’s phoning in his performance. And Robert Sean Leonard but he’s not even trying to hide his contempt for the material. And Lisa Edelstein, but she’s gone. BUT I CAN’T STOP! GOD HELP ME, I CAN’T STOP!”
Leo shook his head with a sigh and took a seat.
You know when you see a comedy and all of the decent jokes are in the trailer? That was this week’s “prank war” between House and Wilson. I was so looking forward to it! Wilson believes House has a gun in his apartment. When he goes to ransack the place, an improbable hunting net traps him in the air, which is a funny image. What followed was ludicrous slapstick. Wilson finds a gun in a box marked “House,” in case House forgets who he is when he opens the box. In a scene that lasts approximately ten years and is written in crayon, House waves it around, points it at himself and Wilson, demonstrating with a pencil that the barrel is blocked. “You win,” Wilson sighs.
“Naturally Wilson doesn’t call the police because the crazy felon who runs Diagnostics has a gun,” I remarked to Leo.
"That’s ‘cause they’re married.”
The POTW is a prosecutor, who collapses with a heart attack in the cold open, but of course it’s not a heart attack or we’d have no show. We barely have one as it is. Turns out the uncharismatic patient has a secret bunker behind a bookcase on his wall (OH, COME ON!) loaded with a small infantry’s worth of automatic weapons and C-4 explosives. His wife does not take the news well.
"Sorry, honey,” he tries to explain. “I totally forgot to tell you that I built an underground bunker."
"Well, I had a free weekend..."
He only eats food he cooks himself—I’m assuming he grows his own meat and vegetables at his secret farm under the back porch—and drinks bottled water. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and this guy wants to go vigilante on the bad guys’ collective asses. Come to think of it, Hitler had a lovely secret bunker, with curtains. But I digress.
House thinks the paranoia is a symptom (that means that most of the GOP presidential candidates have diphtheria, too. Sorry to spoil this so soon). The patient didn’t have vaccinations. Do you think that storyline had anything to do with Fox News having a segment on parents refusing vaccines? Do it, Moms, or your kid will throw chairs through the window while hallucinating they’re being attacked by bears. Bears? Seriously? Vigilante Patient has an underground bunker and he’s afraid of bears? Does anyone even clock into the writer’s room?
"Oh, shit, bears!"
Speaking of ham-handed product placement, Adams, the pretty one, while driving with Park, the one whose voice annoys me so I want to reach down her throat and pull out her vocal chords, mentions her Ford cruise control. And a minute later we sail into a Ford commercial! My dear readers, I hoped the creators had a shred of integrity intact, but the Ford ran over the last shred. At least Adams didn’t crash the car into the patient’s house.
Long story short: the patient is paranoid. And he has diphtheria.
Park is paranoid that the rest of the team doesn’t like her. Unfortunately, she’s right. She goes to House for consolation. She is an idiot.
Wilson is paranoid that House has a gun. Wilson should be.
I’m going to make a stretch here to say that Taub is paranoid that Foreman has no personal life. Never mind the details. Foreman hooks up with a horrifically buff former America’s Top Model contestant who’s married. One saving grace of this episode was that Taub was relegated to snarking on the sidelines.
When Vigilante Patient is on the mend, he promises his wife they’ll move to a new house without a secret bunker. “Oh, honey, can it be English Tudor?” she asks, caressing his cheek. “Now that I know you’re an insane time-bomb who still might go off any minute, I love you even more.” Cue heartwarming music. VP plans to donate the arsenal to the Peace Corps. As long as the new house has no bears.
I mentioned the show’s overall dislike of women at the beginning. That was code for “rampant misogyny.” As a friend tweeted, “This is a sausage fest.” They are trying to fill the void left by Cuddy’s departure (her name has been uttered once or twice). Cuddy was a confident, mature, sexual woman with an impressive job. Now we get, what, an anonymous pretty cipher and a teenage geek? And a passel of middle-aged men? Eeeew.
One feels a certain fondness for middle-aged writers and directors, getting back at all of the girls who wouldn’t date them in eleventh grade.
Meanwhile, during clinic duty, House barks out the names of female clinic patients until he gets to the standard-issue Hollywood Hot Babe, and takes her into the clinic room. Har de har har. Let’s laugh at the less attractive women in the waiting room. Is it me, or is House’s awful make-my-ears-look-big dyed haircut making him look more Creepy Grandpa each episode?
"It’s not you,” Leo assures me. “He is Creepy Grandpa.”
The crowning touch is a scene where Chase and Adams, the pretty people, are on the verge of hooking up when Park gets on the elevator. Standing on either side of her, they look like her parents. She gets up her courage asks Chase for a drink, causing him to squirm with a “kill me now” expression on his face, before he agrees. Ha ha ha! Less attractive women are so funny! Especially when they come on to cute guys who’d rather suck on a tailpipe than get naked with them. But, who knows, maybe Chase and Park will get it on. I'd rather that that Chase and Adams.
Side note: what is with the gruesomely thin women on this show? America’s Top Model weighs about 70 pounds but still looks like she could out-bench-press Foreman. When she walks toward Foreman in the gym, he looks like a sofa compared to her. At least women who don’t eat make cheap dates.
At the close, House puts the box with the gun on the upper shelf on his closet, and then takes out his father’s ceremonial Marine sword, caressing it gently before returning it to its hiding place. This was the “mid-season finale” (when did television start using that term?). I guess come January we’ll be watching House explore his daddy issues. Because, honestly, what’s left?
Watching this mess lurch to its conclusion, Leo and I touched glasses. “We lived through it,” he said.
“But at what cost?” I retorted, paranoid that my IQ level had dropped twenty points.
In January House MD will be back to slog toward the finale.
Feel free to express yourself in the comments. But bear in mind that I am always right.
EDITED TO ADD: Hugh Laurie has announced he is leaving acting after the final season of House. That's too bad, but understandable. A weekly series is an unbearable grind.
If you are going to post Anonymous comments, let it be known that you have to sign them somehow if you want to be published.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Some of you might have guessed that I am an avid (some might say obsessed) fan of the show “House MD.” And, it almost goes without saying, highly intelligent. So when I found House and Psychology: Humanity Is Overrated(Wiley, 2011), it had to be on my bookshelf.
After I read it, of course. In two sittings.
This is not an official guide, nor is it the usual fan fluff. Edited by Ted Casio and Leonard L. Martin, the book is an anthology of writings by well-known research psychologists and sociologists who are also avid (some might say obsessed) fans. The latest psychological research (including the most up-to-date studies on addiction) is combined with psychological theory. Liberally peppered with scenes and quotes from episodes, it is great fun to read.
The book is divided into four sections.
Part One, The Good: Unlimited Vicodin;
Part Two, The Bad: Psychological Malpractice;
Part Three, The Ugly: Is That My EKG?
Part Four is “House and The Hero’s Journey,” based on the works of Joseph Campbell. It casts House as a “mythic hero.” This is a view some take of House, but for my taste, antisocial bitter sonofabitch does just fine, thank you. But I digress.
About but not limited to the study of the mind of Gregory House, the chapters address authenticity of self, creativity and happiness, to name a few topics. They also include the psyches of the other people in his orbit, as well as dissections of the actual show itself.
“The Psychology of Humor in House” is easy enough to grasp, but how about “You Are Not as Special as You Think: The Political Psychology of House, MD”?
As an example, an excellent article, “Not Even Gregory House Is An Island,” by Dr. Megan L. Knowles, a social psychologist, is about House and the role social support (and his rejection of same) plays in his life. For obvious reasons, James Wilson, his only friend, plays a large part in offering tangible and emotional support, but there are also examinations of how members of the team provide support to each other, and what types.
Other denizens of Princeton-Plainsboro--Cuddy, Cameron, Foreman and Chase--are all examined through different lenses by different psychologists. So are their dealings with House. For instance, the sexual ambivalent-avoidant relationship between House and Cuddy is examined at length, as is her involvement with Lucas in “Love, Liking and Lupus,” by Lindsey M. Rodriguez and Edward R. Hirt.
House and Psychology: Humanity Is Overrated goes up to the end of Season Six. The examinations of the characters through psychology not only give a vast deal of enjoyment, but as a bonus, a deeper insight into oneself as well.
Ted Casio is a psychology teacher and a writer for the Hollywood PhD blog in Psychology Today. Leonard L. Martin is a professor of social psychology at the University of Georgia.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, for both the casual, avid and obsessed fans. For one thing, you can impress the heck out of your fellow fans with your intimate knowledge of what makes House and his fellow doctors tick.
The book's website is http://houseandpsychology.com/
You can purchase the book either in trade paperback or for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/House-Psychology-Overrated-Ted-Cascio/
Go forth and enjoy!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
She is dressed in a Rebecca Taylor dress, Brian Atwood heels, and an Oscar de la Renta clutch. I admit, I am not wild about the hair. It seems a tad too "milkmaid at the Dutch county fair" to moi.
The focus of her look are these lia Sophia Linear Earrings with black diamond crystals and moss & tortoise resin.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The confusion over Season Eight has been cleared up at last! While we fans were wondering, “What happened to this show? When did it become such a car wreck?” there is now an answer!
In a recent interview, Hugh Laurie, former pillar of artistic integrity, is quoted as saying: "Whatever we're doing now on the show, we're doing it for its own satisfaction. I don't feel like we're struggling to prove ourselves to executives or critics. Not to be complacent about it, but I think we've moved beyond that stage.”
Clearly, beyond the stage of producing decent television. Mr. Laurie is making it clear that they no longer give a damn about what they are creating. (Those of us who have recently wondered if Mr. Laurie has been assuaging the tedium of playing the same character for so many years with, ahem, illegal substances can rest assured that “coffee” is what is keeping the company going. Naturellement .)
This week’s episode, “Parents,” was as multilayered as a tuna melt, with the same mushy texture.
I am going to cut directly to the shocking (!) family secret (!): Ben is a teenager who wants to go to Klown Kollege because of his loving memories of his Dead Clown Father. But Dead Clown Father isn’t actually dead. He shows up at the hospital where, after giving DCF a quick glance, House announces that DCF molested Ben and gave him syphilis when Ben was a wee bairn. (House deduces this from the way DCF is walking. Maybe it was from a stilt accident, but what do I know?) The family is shattered, Ben is ruined for life by finding out his DCF is a live CF and a child rapist and the police are called.
Oh. Wait. None of that happens.
Taub decides not to tell Ben how he got syphilis but they don’t show that part—because it might have involved some actual writing—and DCF shuffles out of the picture, presumably on the hunt for more young wanna-be Bozos. Bear in mind, this entire sequence of events, including the Magi-Cam during the “let’s just get this crap over with” explanation takes three minutes of screen time. Not even a final reaction shot from Ben, who is actually an interesting patient.
"Come here, little boy, and I'll show you my balloons."
The theme of this episode is parents. Good parents, bad parents, bad clowns who molest children parents, and Taub. I know there was supposed to be a connection to Taub's story and Dead Clown Father, as in, what's better, an absent father who molested you or a present father who doesn't touch your privates? Or something along those lines.
Taub's two illegitimate daughters are both named Sophie. Most of the episode is taken up with Taub’s—uh, Taub’s—Taub’s futzing around with the babies because the ever-annoying Rachel wants to move Sophie #1 to Portland along with her new BF. Meanwhile, Ruby, the other baby mama (be grateful she’s not named Rachel) bitches at Taub that she can’t afford a baby yada yada. I used to love Taub before his personal life became The B-Story That Ate The Show.
House isn’t around much for “Parents.” There is a passing mention of his two fathers. At last! An exploration of this pivotal shaping of House’s character and worldview. Oops. It’s a throwaway line. House wants to accompany Wilson to Atlantic City to sing ringside at a prizefight. So most of House’s storyline is devoted to getting his ankle bracelet off. Or dealing with a fat clinic patient who is convinced who has diabetes. Or randomly announcing that everyone's parents screwed them up.
Or trying to find out what Adams’s deep dark secret is. Adams, as usual, seems faintly distracted, as if worried she left her Iphone at the mall. Her big secret is that she was a good girl who ran away to see if she was a rebel, but she wasn’t. Is anyone even IN the writer’s room?
Most of my notes are along the lines of “Taub? Again?” and one notation: WILSON. Robert Sean Leonard has dropped any semblance of interest in his character—I don’t blame him—who has largely been reduced to sight gags. When one starts to feel nostalgic for the chicken bet, one is peering into the abyss. Foreman calls Wilson into his office and tells Wilson that it’s his duty as a friend to stay with House and watch the fight on television. Wilson realizes, shocked, that this is the truth as well as his higher duty (to be honest, the way RSL played it I was sure Wilson was faking) and takes the tickets out of his pocket.
The end of the episode shows Wilson coming to House’s place with pizza and beer, eagerly turning on the fight, only to see Foreman and House sitting ringside, toasting each other with a beer. Ruefully, Wilson eats pizza.
As my betters say, WTF?
David Shore and company are doing the artistic equivalent of leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on the audience’s collective doorstep.
POST EPISODE CONCLUSIONS:
Hugh Laurie has it in his new contract that he only has to work eight hours a day.
Robert Sean Leonard has gone even more meta than the show itself by delivering his lines as if even he can’t believe them.
Nice little anecdote about how Chase became interested in medicine.
Foreman as Dean of Medicine continues to delight—when he isn’t involved in stupid gags.
Terra Nova is on before House to make House sound like Chaucer. The strategy isn’t working.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Confession: your faithful chronicler finds herself brought so low as to be groveling for a crumb of ANYTHING. The theme song is back! Amazing how the smallest things can make one ridiculously happy.
Everything's going to be okay! Brilliant of TPTB to wait 4 episodes until the theme song came back, along with Chase, Taub, and the diagnostics office!
Chase! Taub! Wilson! Whiteboard!
What does it say about an episode that the best thing I can say is that it didn't make me angry, and I chuckled a few times?
“House M.D.” is not even trying to be a serious program any more. The show has morphed into a meta parody of itself. The characters becoming caricatures, the "fun" back in the form of jokes that aren't funny, and wild n' crazy antics! And everybody involved knows that, so in later episodes we might possibly be spared any form of gravitas. "House" can't pull it off any more. It's back to hooker-on-a-Segway time. You want serious character development? Sorry, we got tired of doing that.
We open on a pleasant rural town, Cedarville, in the 1950s. Bob Harris, Champion Little League coach, Harvest Scholarship Fund treasurer, and owner of the town's only gas station, is receiving an award for being a pillar of the community at a county fair. (A county fair? Near Princeton?) He is watched by local beauty queen Miss Cedarville.
Quick cut to a motel room, where Bob is putting his pillar to good use having sex with Miss Cedarville. The inevitable happens: he has a heart attack on top of her. Rule Number One on House: Do.Not.Have.Sex.Ever. It either brings you to the brink of death or merely ruins your life. Or you drive your car into your ex’s house.
Suddenly we time-travel to the present. Chase and Taub stand before Foreman’s desk. There’s some old-school banter, then reality jumps the rails once again. Taub was counting on two days off, because he has to look after his two children. It’s not noted exactly why the mothers took off at the same time or why Taub can’t afford a nanny, but what the hell, the babies are adorable and good for some sight gags. Not to mention House torments Taub about the babies’ paternal origin. What happened to Season 4/5 Taub, who gave as good as he got, and more important, DIDN’T HAVE PLOT LINES THAT CLOG THE SHOW AS MUCH AS GREASE CLOGS A SINK DRAIN? He even gets Wilson (the head of Oncology, as if that matters any more) to baby-sit and roll them around the lobby, thus dooming Wilson’s chance of being taken seriously by any of the staff ever again.
The POTW (Jamie Bamber, late of Battlestar Gallactica) has “confessed” the truth to his wife. True to her 1950s values, she will stand by her man. Cutting to the chase (pardon the pun) the patient’s problems include:
Liver failure. Check
Eeeew! Skin peeling off in sheets! Like the ballerina in “Under My Skin” in Season Five! Except this is even more disgusting. (Whatever happened to the cases where people had gone to dozens of doctors before they went to House?)
The entire town of Cedarville time-travels to PPTH to offer Galatica Guy a piece of their livers. However, Galatica Guy “confesses” everything from ripping off his neighbors to embezzlement to being a vampire—oh, wait, that’s another show. Cedarville promptly time-travels back to the 1950s.
If it hadn’t been obvious from the get-go that the confessions are the principal symptom, it’s evident that suddenly the team have forgotten they’re doctors and haven’t noticed Altruist Guy's and Galactica Guy's defining characteristics were overdone and obviously a symptom from the first scene. And both are diagnosed by one of the ducklings in the same crazy way. I mean, come on, it's one thing to repeat plot-lines from earlier seasons, but a plot line from two episodes ago?
Meanwhile, Adams and Park still haven’t learned to act, which makes Chase and Taub back quite refreshing. House rags on Chase for staring at Adams’s non-existent breasts. Later it’s back-story time for Adams, and forgive me, but I wasn’t listening. But it was probably a “confession” of some kind. The scenes between House and Wilson seem off-kilter. I’m guessing the actors are saying their lines and going home.
Without going into the details of House hiring a construction crew and Foreman never noticing, or how Galactica Guy’s skin peels off but his face reminds intact, or Taub’s two goddamn babies, TPOW is diagnosed with Kawasaki’s Disease. And is able to lie to his wife about having an affair. “I knew it,” she gushes, and they return to the 1950s.
The end is very funny but also preposterous. The construction has been to make a wall that rises at the touch of a remote that slides up to reveal—wait for it—
Wilson’s office. Why get into whether or not Wilson knew about it, or where the damn wall goes when it raises up, etc. etc. ?
The best thing to do is to pretend it’s a sitcom and wait for the canned laughter.
P.S. When you respond to this review, please bear in mind that I am always right and do not approve hate mail.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
This press release crossed my desk. As Ellen Christine is my favorite hatmaker, I simply had to share the information! More specifics as they arrive.
For decades, the Saint's Day of St. Catherine has been celebrated by milliners worldwide.
New York City milliners have taken up the torch and created their Made in Manhattan version of a St. Catherine's Day Parade. The Fete is on the 17th of November, and has as its backdrop the picturesque menagerie of the Carousel in Bryant Park and the extraordinary exhibit from Victoria and Albert Museum in London: Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones.
The Milliners Guild's membership comprises some of the most colorful accessory designers in the world of hats : 50 and more milliners who love their craft/art!
This event coincides with Hats: an Anthology by Stephen Jones, a world-acclaimed exhibit housed at BCG until April 15th. A lecture, The Surrealist Hat, will be given by Dilys Blum, curator of costume and textile at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
As I said, dahlings, more will be revealed, and you shall be the first to know. And remember, wear a hat!
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
I believe in encouraging talent when I see it. Natalie Perkins, who writes the blog http://www.definatalie.com/, is a blogger and designer. She has designed a line of necklaces using the word "Fat".
Photo courtesy definatalie.com
Now, many women might feel uncomfortable wearing this necklace, but for those who are fat and proud, this just might be the perfect accessory for you. It comes in an array of colors. Look on her website to shop Fancy Lady Industries. Her personal story is inspiring, and I have no doubt we shall be seeing more of Ms. Perkins in the future.
Disclaimer: I only write about things I like. I am not paid for my posts.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Viewers who thought the creative minds behind House MD had destroyed the character in the season 7 finale are in for an unpleasant surprise. Apparently House can still be plumbed for new depths, while being stripped of whatever compassion, sense of ethics, and humanity he may have possessed in the past. Moral turpitude found new lows in last night’s episode of House, “Risky Business.” At the time, the episode seemed merely stupefyingly dull. However, in the cold light of morning 8x04 is simply hideous.
To the tune of "Morning Has Broken," the patient of the week (Michael Nouri) is a business magnate who intends to move his company to China, thereby losing thousands of American jobs and destroying family tradition. His daughter vehemently opposes his decision. Unfortunately, her pro-America argument is interrupted by Nouri finding his hand very small.
Once we’re back at the hospital, Adams strides in, in a low-cut black dress reminiscent of the sorely missed Cuddy. Except that Adams is barely out of high school and the costumers had to pleat her chest to give her cleavage. As always, her cascade of hair is impeccable. It’s a bit disconcerting when she’s bending over the patient—wouldn’t a real doctor wear a ponytail or a braid to keep stray hairs from getting everywhere? (Your faithful correspondent has long, flowing hair, so I know whereof I speak.) Even Thirteen used to pin some of it back. Oh, wait, that was when this mess resembled an actual television program. Adams yammers at Nouri about ethics, which seems rather odd when he’s in an MRI. Aren’t the patients supposed to remain silent? (Correction: he was being radiated, as a commenter pointed out. My narcolepsy must have kicked in.)
House lectures Adams about the 99% and why they deserve to get the shaft. And why she should drive her car through her ex-husband's living room.
Oops. That was when David Shore et.al actually cared about what they were doing. My respect for Hugh Laurie drops another ten points with each episode. He practically slept through this one. (Not to mention that his hair and beard are still that bizarre ginger color.)
The bottom line: House buys stock in the company when it drops because of the news of Nouri’s ill health. He then makes a huge profit when Nouri decides to move the company to China! He urges the magnate to sign the press release, in front of the magnate’s horrified daughter. Way to go, you rascal House, you! Insider trading, ruining thousands of lives, losing thousands of American jobs, AND wrecking the magnate’s family in the process!
Pardon me, I had to pause writing the review so I could vomit.
The show has moved me, it has made me think, it has angered me, it has bored me. But except for last season’s finale, I have never felt utter DISGUST. Is this supposed to be cute? Is this “going back to the fun”?? What do they do in the writer’s room, torture kittens?
Dr. Park floats around the periphery, her disciplinary hearing won because, well, she’s just so adorable, how can you fire her? (Besides, she's signed up for the season.)
The POTW’s illness is described quickly with some medical gobbledy-gook. This season, the MagiCam has been used to (loudly) distract from whatever diagnosis House is spouting. The visuals have become as confusing as everything else. Can someone tell me what the diagnosis was? It involved a lot of spinning red discs, that much I know.
At the end, House buys back his old department with his ill-gotten gains and Wilson (who is on for a few nanoseconds) a check for $5000. I suppose this is supposed to make up for all of the money House owes Wilson, and it conveniently buys his friendship for the rest of the season as well. Which is nicely symbolic of Robert Sean Leonard keeping his job.
In the last moments, we discover that Adams is going through a divorce (gag me) that will supposedly give her character some depth. Given her age, she must have been married down South. House hands her a baseball bat and watches, grinning, as she destroys the orthopedic equipment that has occupied his “office,” as “Morning Has Broken” plays on the soundtrack. Yes, nothing says “catharsis” like trashing expensive medical equipment out of spite.
As one friend wrote to me:
The $5000 was money he stole from Wilson - he was just returning it.Crimes committed by House in this episode-
Insider trading (twice)-
Blackmail of patient for money-
Theft of $5000 from Wilson-
Theft of a $200,000 piece of medical equipment (he pawned it somewhere presumably? must be a great pawn shop!)-
Assault on ortho guy (shining a light in his eyes designed to make him ill*), near assault on ortho guy (only saved by having an epiphany at the last moment)
Pretty good record for a guy on parole....
* I shall be honest and admit I had to cover my eyes during this section, because I have a mild medical condition where I cannot look at flashing lights.
On the positive side…
On the positive side…
Wilson looks hot.
Foreman’s character is being fleshed out beautifully, after years of standing around looking sullen. He projects authority, intelligence, and humor.
Not to worry, House will have his minions tearing up Foreman’s office for no good reason before season 8 is over.