Thursday, April 12, 2012

House Review: 8x16 "Gut Check" = Airsick Bag


A while back I mentioned that the writers of House are in a race to see who can write the worst script before the series’ end. Sarah Hess and Liz Friedman have a strong lead with “Man Of The House.” But there is a serious contender, “Gut Check,” written by David Hoselton and Jamie Conway.

Disclaimer: I do not usually use the vulgarities written here. But desperate times and all that.

Words cannot adequately convey what sheer torture your faithful correspondent endured watching this. Director Miguel Sapochnik has directed some of the worst episodes of House (“Larger Than Life”, “Family Practice”), and he truly let out all of the stops on this suckfest.

The program’s slide into the cesspot is positively meta. Is the show itself some sort of sick House-ian screwing with the audience, putting us through the wringer for their own amusement? Are they teaching us a lesson, as House so often does? If so, the lesson is: never take for granted that you have viewed the suckiest episode of House. There’s still more manure to be mucked out of the writer’s room.

The patient of the week…oh, the hell with it, he’s Hockey Biff…is an “enforcer” on a hockey team, the big guy who punches out the smaller guys on the rink. In the opener, after the usual fancy slow-fast-loud-silent things they like to do when there’s action, they go straight to the inevitable scene of the patient vomiting blood. Although this time it’s on ice. Very pretty. Points to the art department.

House just happens to have a hockey table game when the case is brought in, which made me want to take an axe to my television. Does House have a secret underground bunker of toys suitable for every case? The show likes secret underground bunkers (oh, dear, yours truly is going to be called out because it was an above ground bunker in “Perils of Paranoia”).

Taub hates Hockey Biff because he reminds Taub of all of the bullies he endured in school. But then Taub likes Hockey Biff because…um…sorry, I have no idea.

Biff and Taub share a moment.

Hockey Biff has the requisite paralysis, the word “sarcoidosis” is thrown around, and Hockey Biff grows breasts. Didn’t a gentleman lactate on this show recently? Taub diagnoses Hockey Biff: the man has mononucleosis, which back in the day was known as the kissing disease. Dear readers, I suffered from mono in my youth, and the most dramatic symptom was lassitude. But then, I already had breasts.

For an instant Hockey Biff considers no longer being an enforcer, but his moral dilemma is neatly solved by a $2.1 million dollar contract.

But Hockey Biff is merely a footnote to two of the most unbelievable, intellectually insulting and badly acted character arcs—wait, that’s been most of the character arcs recently. In any event.

For the “wah-wah-wah” part of the show, Park wants to escape living with her parents, so Chase offers her his spare bedroom. Adams has been firmly pushed into the background so that Park can say and do wacky things. Expect Charlene Yi to land a quirky role in a sitcom next season. That’s obviously what she’s being prepped for. Park moves in, but so does her grandmother, Popo. Chase takes a liking to Popo. Short but seemingly never-ending short story short, Park moves back in with her parents, and Popo stays with Chase.


The egregious, deplorable House/Wilson plot is the cement shoes tied to the feet of “Gut Check” that pulls it to the bottom on the swamp. On the one hand, we get to see more of Wilson than we have all season. On the other hand, we have to live through moronic shenanigans that make the Three Stooges look like Chekov.

The set-up: Wilson cannot sleep because the new baby next store is keeping him up all night. House makes the instantaneous deduction that in reality Wilson regrets not having children. House reveals to Wilson that Wilson impregnated Beth, a falconer (a falconer! How delightfully random—NOT) eleven years before, and as a result, there is a male heir to the Wilson name. Wilson, having had a lobotomy this season, is overjoyed and doesn’t question for a minute that his best friend of many years never mentioned this before. House vowed to keep it a secret. Since when has House successfully kept a secret from Wilson? Since when has House wanted to keep a secret from Wilson? In reality---oh, God, this show is so bad I’m referring to earlier seasons as “reality”—House would have lost no opportunity to browbeat Wilson about his love child.

Instant child! A little boy with glued-one eyebrows meets Wilson, they have everything in common, Beth never appears, and on the second meeting, Duncan declares, “I love you, Dad,” and gives Wilson a big hug. How did House manage all of this with such lightning speed? How did he know that the conversation with Wilson was going to happen? Oh, I forgot again, making sense stopped making sense to the creative staff by the end of Season Seven.

Despite Duncan neither acting nor speaking like an eleven-year-old (he prefers prosciutto to peanut butter) Wilson is delighted that he has a son. Robert Sean Leonard sells the heck out of the subplot, but underneath he seems to be saying, Are they really asking me to say this crap? But when Duncan wants to move in with Daddy because Mommy is moving to Costa Rica to save wildlife (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?) lobotomized Wilson believes it and freaks out. In the past, Wilson would have seen right through the scam, and played House against himself, perhaps pretending to be overjoyed with his new “son” and telling House that from now on, his “son” was going to take all of his time, so bye-bye, House.

But no. House unmasks that “Duncan” is Wendel (with one l, thank you to the reader who picked up this error), a child actor he hired to show Wilson that he never really wanted a child. Wilson starts to get angry, but then remembers that was the old Wilson, with a brain and a backbone. So he sits back on the couch and gives a forced chuckle. (I swear, Robert Sean Leonard looked like he was dying of embarrassment at that moment.) At the end, he is shown happily making pizza with House. Insert agonized scream from yours truly.

Lobotomized Wilson: Kid? What kid? You want some prosciutto?

What has happened to Wilson? Why didn’t he have more of reaction when he found out his best friend had kept his son a secret for eleven years? Why didn’t he have more of a reaction when he found out the boy he’d bonded with was a hired actor? Why is he there at all? For House to make mildly lascivious homosexual jokes to? For fan service? If he has to be there, at least give him back his frontal lobes.

Random Notes:

Hugh Laurie continues to look weird. Are they foreshadowing cancer, or does he just look weird?

Odette Annabelle is definitely being sidelined. Now that they’ve got adorable Dominika, the man fantasy girl-with-boobs quota has been filled.

Until next week, that is. From the press release 8x17 :

Meanwhile, House is interviewing for a new favorite hooker, since his current favorite, Emily, has decided to get married and leave the business

We can hope that House is using this plot for sly commentary on the objectification of women on television. But probably not.

Elisa & Fletcher

Note to anonnonablog regarding "Chasing Zebras": you have to go to Amazon to buy the book.


Jess said...

It took me a full thirty minutes to get through this and not because I'm missing a LOBE LOL but because I was laughing my ass off and had to go back and re-read the damn thing. Girl you have nailed it again.

Looks like it's Team Hiedman vs. Team Hoseway, who will win at suckiest ep?

Now I actually liked Larger than Life and Family Practice and am taking you to task (tsk tsk) for not liking them.

Who didn't expect when we saw the previews cued with the cute background music that this wasn't going to be some sort of hoax? How can the brilliant Dr. James Wilson be so stupid? Of course this is the same guy who donated part of his liver to an asshole and who got back with his ex-wife KNOWING she was going to shit all over him again. I mean seriously? I like Wilson, he's a smart guy, just not good with the ladies, why are they dumbing him down like this?

I will say that the POTW reinforces Shore's delusion that "people don't change" so at least there was some consistency there.

Oh yeah about the vomiting blood.....boring isn't it? Actually I think it's next week's ep where the POTW is tearing blood. Wait! Didn't we just see that a few episodes ago? Haven't our creative peeps heard of WebMD? You can find all sorts of really interesting complex diagnostic cases there. Bleeding out of orifices has been done to death!

I'm thinking Popo could easily replace Adams on the team, ever say a word, and be much more entertaining. Thoughts?

Oh hell MF you know what I think about it all already don't you? XO


Anonymous said...

LOL. So I guess you REALLY didn't like it, hm? I did. Anyway, let me help you out with a few things here. if you don't mind.

1) "House just happens to have a hockey table game when the case is brought in"
Nope. He had the case already, that's why he got the hockey game.

2) "But then Taub likes Hockey Biff because... um... sorry, I have no idea."
Nope. Taub likes the patient (his name is Bobby, btw) "all of a sudden" because he thought he defended him against House. Came up a couple of times. I understand that you missed it. You were busy finding stuff to be offended at.

3) "Didn’t a gentleman lactate on this show recently?"
That happens occasionally. It's been about 170 episodes. Repeating symptoms might happen. I am sorry that upsets you so much.

4) "the man has mononucleosis"
Nope. He had mononucleosis AND Miller-Fisher syndrome, which complicated the case.

5) "Popo stays with Chase."
Nope, there's no indication for that. All we know is that Popo's taken to spend time with Chase. Playing cribbage.

6) "a falconer! How delightfully random—NOT"
...I don't even know what's the problem here. What's wrong with falconers? They do exist, don't they? Also, it does tie in with the Costa Rica thing that comes up later.

7) "Wilson, having had a lobotomy this season, is overjoyed and doesn’t question for a minute that his best friend of many years never mentioned this before"
Nope. Wilson actually calls his bluff immediately. He's only convinced later after talking to Beth and her confirming it.

8) "Since when has House successfully kept a secret from Wilson?"
House keeps secrets from Wilson all the time. It's one of his favorite past times. What series have you been watching?

9) "How did House manage all of this with such lightning speed?"
There's this thing in TV. Movies have it too. Most of the time, more time goes by than you see happen on screen. TV shows are usually not in real time. Unless it's "24".

10) "he prefers prosciutto to peanut butter"
Never heard of in an eleven year old before. All eleven year olds prefer peanut butter. Also, they all look and act the same. Right. The mere thought is utterly ridiculous. (Not.)

11) "because Mommy is moving to Costa Rica to save wildlife (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?)"
Never ever happens, in the whole wide world. Nature nuts don't actually exist. Neither does Costa Rica.

12) "House unmasks that “Duncan” is Wendell"
Small nitpick, but he specifically states that his name is "Wendel", with one "l".

13) "Wilson starts to get angry, but then remembers that was the old Wilson, with a brain and a backbone."
Or possibly he remembered that he freaked out at the possibility that he had to care for an eleven year old and realized that he wouldn't be able to do it.

14) "Hugh Laurie continues to look weird. Are they foreshadowing cancer, or does he just look weird?"
I think you should consider that you decided that you don't like him anymore. Stuff like that can make people look weird in your head.

15) "Odette Annabelle is definitely being sidelined. Now that they’ve got adorable Dominika, the man fantasy girl-with-boobs quota has been filled."
You may have noticed, Dominika wasn't even in this episode. If your theory was correct, wouldn't they have either one or the other in every episode? Not using either wouldn't make sense then, right?


Mad Fashionista said...

Morgan, thank you for your thoughtful analysis. I'm sure your teachers are very impressed by your book reports.