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.