In its continuing efforts to make us forget that this was once a brilliant, ground-breaking television drama, writer John C. Kelley (late of NCIS) and director Tim Southam bring us this listless effort.
While not as bad as “Man of The House” (but really, what could be?) instead of a profound examination of a family mired in duplicity, and how House came to be the man he is, the viewer is treated to a parade of sloppy jokes and lazy clichés. The reason it has taken so long to write this review was that I kept delaying having to rewatch it.
Consider this: you have approximately 42 minutes of time to fill. You have to make choices about what to fill that 42 minutes with. Let’s divide it into chunks, like a large sundae.
Chunk One, melted Wavy Gravy:
WHO IN THE NAME OF JESUS THOUGHT PARK HAVING AN ACID TRIP WOULD BE FUNNY? And those cartoony visions of Chase, Adams and lastly, Taub as the tooth fairy? What show is this?? If I want to watch “Who Shot Roger Rabbit” I’ll go to Netflix, thank you very much.
Apparently the POTW was hoping to have hallucinations, so he laced his ice cream and candy with LSD. During the usual search of the patient's dwellings, Park ate some of same, and so we are inflicted with Disney-itis.
Chunk Two, Vanilla:
The patient, who we shall call Blind Biff, has loud explosions going off in his head, like the deaf teenager a few seasons back. Biff has a deeply masochistic girlfriend/slave who has been taking care of him since college.
However, he’s met someone new who expects him to be independent. Biff is ready to be independent. He wants to give Masochist Melissa the old heave-ho and ride off into the sunset with Shiny New Girl. Who, for some reason, is never shown. A throwaway line, “I don’t want her to know I’m in the hospital” takes care of that. Good work, writers!
However, some treatment or other renders Blind Biff Blind Deaf Biff (say that five times fast) and before you can say “low self-esteem” Masochistic Melissa has thrown herself across Blind Deaf Biff sobbing how much she loves him. Blind Deaf Biff is no fool. Screw independence. Shiny New Girlfriend isn’t going to stick around with someone who is going to need full-time care. So, in a triumph of self-preservation that left me misty-eyed, he asks Masochistic Melissa to marry him. “YES!” she yells. Blind Deaf Biff is deaf no more! His hearing returned magically to hear her chaining herself to him for life! Now he is only Blind Biff!
I half-expected the wife from “Nobody’s Fault” to run in and scream, “He saved my husband’s life—whoops, wrong episode.”
Chunk Three, Rocky Road that fell out of the cone onto the sidewalk: House’s family.
Blythe comes to the hospital to see her son. Now, bear in mind that she was presented as a loving parent in “Daddy’s Boy” and “Birthmarks.” A veritable June Cleaver who looked the other way while Ward was beating up the Beaver.
House wants nothing to do with her, and wants her to think he was in Africa the past year. This makes no sense, particularly when she reveals that she knew he was in prison the entire time. Uh, Blythe, could you explain why you never bothered to contact YOUR ONLY SON during all of that time? She tricks Wilson into thinking she has cancer, causing House to show up at her hotel. House learned his manipulative skills from someone, clearly.
Blythe answers in a hotel bathrobe. House discovers she is in bed with…Thomas Bell, his biological father! Played by Billy Connelly, whom I adore and who did his best to sell this trash. (Diane Baker, who plays House’s mother, was born in 1938. Billy Connelly was born in 1942, which makes him seventeen years old when House/Hugh Laurie was born. Who knew Blythe liked them so young?)
"You were such a tender piece of young flesh, then, Tom."
"Thank you, Mommy Dearest."
You may recall some episodes back that House read a book of essays by Bell, who was a minister, and apparently quite devout. (This show will absolutely torture you if you have any memory at all.) Since then, he has morphed into a carefree Scottish man who was a chaplain in the American Navy (?) who did quite a bit of partying back in the day. Bell and House not only have matching birthmarks on their heads, they have them on what a romance novel would call their “manhoods,” as well.
We further learn that Blythe was quite the hippie, taking drugs, sleeping around, demonstrating against the war while ignoring that her child was being abused and seemingly not noticing that her husband was a Marine. There are enough disconnects here to cause a power shortage to the entire Eastern Seaboard. Including the fact that not only did she not feel it necessary to contact her son while he was in prison, but also that she got married to Bell two months after House Sr. died in Season Five. So she lied to House for YEARS?
Bell says quite rightly that he could “have done something for the boy” and House might not have turned into “a pill-popping sociopath”. This last is at a cozy dinner at a restaurant where House has brought Dominika because the company is lacking in adorable, and Wilson…because he’s there. House stands up and pulls out his manhood to show the matching birthmark.
I will pause here to note that Wilson doesn't look at all surprised. I assume he's seen it before.
Bell loses his cool, whereupon Blythe says the hoariest line in all of drama [if you don’t apologize to my son] “You will never see me again!”
Oh, really? The man you’ve been balling while your son is in prison? “You will never see me again!”
Now, honestly, who says that? And over a personal spat? Are the interns writing the scripts? “Dirk, get me a soy latte and write Scene 36 while you’re at it.” It’s a cheap line for a cheap moment of cheap drama.
Bell and his son bond later, I have no idea why. House says he “respected” his father and I did an honest-to-God spit-take. Champagne all over the Aubusson. The man he didn’t visit for a year while the guy was dying. (Am I sensing a pattern in this family?) Who he wanted to give a “bastardodgy”. If House respected his father, I am Lady Gaga.
The sludgy fake whipped topping to this sundae:
Wilson does a DNA test which proves that Thomas Bell is not House’s father after all. Let us consider this matter...Bell and House have matching birthmarks in the same two places; at age eleven House had catalogued all they have in common physically...but Bell is not his father?
“Your mom’s a slut,” Wilson observes. The House of yore would have had an actual reaction, instead of “She’s less boring than I thought.”
I wish I could say as much for this episode. Sorry for so few details, but I simply could not get through it more than twice. The second time I kept screaming uncontrollably, which is why my dialogue quotes aren’t more precise.
We are now coming to the final eight episodes. As much as I will mourn and miss this show (or what this show used to be) all I can say is, thank God.
Feel free to discuss this in the comments, and bear in mind: I am always right.