Friday, 8 October 2010

House 7.1 'Now What?'

“Happy Bar Mitzvah, Ephram” – Message on Thirteen’s ‘Leaving’ Cake

There was a great deal of speculation about House’s seventh season in the run up to its premiere; which the cynical among us may suggest was exactly what the writers and producers were hoping for with the season 6 finale ending cliffhanger of Cuddy professing her love for House.

It hadn’t exactly been a well kept secret that House was starting to falter slightly and the trigger being pulled on the series-long ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ between House and Cuddy would seem to suggest that the creative team behind House knew they were approaching troubled waters.

As fans of the show, we know this relationship can never work – I spent most of the episode waiting for House to screw it up – but the writers have really painted themselves into a corner here. Have the relationship fall apart too soon and everyone will accuse the writers of simply having a stunt ending to season 6 to help out falling ratings, but keep it going too long and we will no doubt see a lot of what makes the show so great disappear.

Irrespective of Cuddy’s speech about House being screwed up but also “the most incredible man” she’s ever known, no woman could maintain a relationship with a man that acts the way House does 90% of the time, and if, by some miracle, House does change it’s going to make the show itself a hell of a lot less interesting.

House’s comment that it won’t be long before Cuddy realises this was all a “mistake” as he’s “an insane choice for someone with a kid” is exactly how this will play out, we shouldn’t be wondering if they will break-up, we should be wondering how long it will take.

And for me that’s going to hurt the show more than help its recent creative lull, House and Cuddy’s sexual tension has been one of the show’s cornerstones and I can’t help but feel we could have a Moonlighting-esque scenario on our hands here.

Time will tell whether this does in fact work in the context of House the series, as one episode, and a somewhat out of the norm episode at that, is not enough time to gauge whether Huddy will be the show’s death-nail – the relationship could surprise us all though and turn into one of the best things that ever happened to House M.D.

The look on both House and Cuddy’s faces though as they said goodbye to each other and were on opposite sides of the door to each other, out of sight for the first time since they ‘got together’ seemed to suggest that this was going to end badly…

That was a very well played out final moment for the episode and the first ‘real’ glimpse of the how the two of them actually felt about this major development in their complex relationship.

I did appreciate the fact that they spent most of the day trying to hash out what was going on between them and answer the titular question of “Now what?”, it all felt very ‘real’ in the sense that they spent so long talking and trying to understand each other. Too often on TV it is just presented that these people are now together and we don’t get to see how they reached that point; so in that sense I really appreciated this episode.

Elsewhere, there were some very funny moments back at the hospital thanks to the delusional Dr. Richardson, whom the team had to diagnose or the hospital would as good as be shut down.

The only available neurosurgeon the hospital had, Richardson had effectively been made prisoner at the hospital by Cuddy, he had managed to visit a seafood festival though and get himself seriously ill.

As the delusional element of his symptoms became worse he turned into a big baby intent on taking off his clothes, which contributed to the episodes most comedic moments – that and Wilson getting stuck trying to break into House’s apartment through the window.

The episode’s other main thread was Thirteen’s decision to take a leave of absence from the hospital. We were led to believe she was off to Rome for a Huntington’s trial, but the swerve came at the episode’s end as Foreman, Taub and Chase prepared to have a goodbye party with her, complete with stolen cake (see article opening quote).

Foreman had discovered that no one at the Rome trial had ever heard of Thirteen and both her phone lines were now mysteriously disconnected. Thirteen had effectively dropped off the grid. In reality Olivia Wilde is off appearing in Tron: Legacy and advancing her already blossoming career, but after she was finally bumped up to the main title sequence at the start of the episode it was somewhat of a surprise to discover she was gone.

All in all a decent, if unspectacular, season opener for everyone’s favourite cantankerous doctor. I preferred ‘Now What?’ to last season’s opener as that particular premiere strayed too far from the general House formula for my liking, although those season 6 opening episodes were definitely more daring creatively.

What ‘Now What?’ did well was to feel like a formulaic House episode without actually being one and advancing a couple of intriguing storylines that will no doubt play out over the season.

I can’t say it feels like House is back to its best, because honestly I don’t know if it will ever get back there, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.

Bullet Points:

- Am I the only person who liked Foreman and Thirteen as a couple? I remember reading a lot of people deriding that pairing when it occurred but I always enjoy their scenes together.

It is pretty obvious that Foreman still has strong feelings for her and I wouldn’t mind betting that his arc for the first half of the season involves trying to track her down.

- As mentioned above it was nice to finally see the opening credits updated – Jennifer Morrison is gone and Peter Jacobson and Olivia Wilde are in. But if Wilde is gone for an extended period of time, surely it’s just going to annoy people as much that she is in the titles when she’s not on the show!?

- I was always surprised we’d never seen a Chase-Thirteen hook-up so hearing Chase proposition her for sex led me to believe they’d actually go through with it before the episode’s end.

As it turns out, I’m glad they didn’t as I’m still holding out hopes of a Fore-teen reunion.

- Great work from George Wyner as Dr. Richardson and in researching this review I’ve also realised he’s the teacher from Tall Oaks Band Camp in American Pie 2 who ends up with herpes after playing the trombone Jim had up his ass!

- Has anyone ever opened a bottle of champagne with a sword!? I’ve only ever seen that trick end in broken glass and/or profuse bleeding.

House continues Sunday @ 10pm on Sky1


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