Category Archives: david shore

Full Review (not linking to Blogcritics) of Both Sides Now: House, MD

I apologize to all who have tried unscuccessfuly to get into the Blogcritics site the last couple of days. There are some outstanding issues with re-design that are being fixed, but still not perfect. For that reason, I’ve decided to reprint my review of the House season finale here and will do the same with the Doris Egan interview to appear later this week. 


Tears and fears and feeling proud
to say I love you

 Right out loud

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

                Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”

 Dr. Gregory House wakes up in bed after making love to Dr. Lisa Cuddy after the “cut” in last week’s House episode “Under My Skin.” Cuddy is gone, but not the memory, as House finds her lipstick sitting on his bathroom sink. He smiles, noting the lipstick smear on his face, the happy recollection of their ardent lovemaking. He pockets the lipstick, noting its color, with clearly a fondness for it: a talisman and a symbol of what lies ahead for the clean and sober House and love finally kindled after seasons of sparring and sparking.

House’s cruel mocking of Cuddy’s motherhood last week transformed into a cry a cry for help, stopping her in her tracks as she stalks angry from his presence. His tearful confession that he is hallucinating stuns her as much as his plea that desperate plea that he needs her. Ever House’s guardian angel, Cuddy ignores House’s hurtful words, and,  anger forgotten, she takes him home, sits with him as he goes through the unrelenting agony of Vicodin detox, holds his hand, caresses his sweaty brow and calms his nerves and stomach with ginger tea. And in the morning she gives him an even greater gift. A 20-year old secret; an inkling that she’s loved him for all these years; that he’s not simply the Buraku of Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. Not just a hospital asset. She has always liked that “interesting lunatic—for who he is; not for what he does for the hospital. And then asks him: do you want to kiss me? And in his heart of hearts, he is honest: “I always want to kiss you.” A gentle brushing of the lips deepens into passion for them.

Singing as he enters his office the next day, still holding onto Cuddy’s lipstick, House is in a spectacular mood. Not just for having sex, but for having won Cuddy. “Zing, zing, zing went my heart strings…the moment I saw her, I fell,” the sappy lyrics of a 1940s Irving Berlin tune tells us that he’s in love, much as in season two, House’s night with Stacy in “Need to Know,” inspired him to sing a sappily romantic aria from the Romberg operetta The Student Prince.

It’s a nice story, filled with the promise of love and redemption. Hope and happiness. “This is the story you made up about who you are. It’s a nice story,” House hears Amber say in his ear. But as Kutner’s grave image tells House at the end of last night’s season finale “Both Sides Now,” “too bad it isn’t real.”

What will stay with me the entire summer will House’s horrified and then shell-shocked face with the dawning recognition that the entire experience with Cuddy has been a delusion. Everybody lies, goes House’s mantra. But the lie his own brain constructed is the cruelest of all.

No longer able to distinguish reality from illusion, House has confabulated a fantasy that did not leave him isolated and alone in his apartment, his life falling apart. What line was crossed in House’s mind that caused it to snap? Had he reached the same level of despair that Kutner had weeks before? That moment where the line between living and dying in misery blur? House’s mind made a choice, and he could just as easily have committed suicide, as Kutner had in “Simple Explanation.” But, instead, his mind chose the comfort of Cuddy’s healing sensuality; the warmth of her body and the belief that he could be happy.

 The heartbreaking revelation that it was all a delusional fantasy is as heartbreaking as it gets. No, Cuddy never went home with him, instead leaving, angry at his cruelty. He never tells her he’s hallucinating; she never looks back.

 Instead he goes home, spending the night alone, in despair knowing he’s hallucinating but unable to stop himself from the continued downward spiral. His support systems gone, House sinks further, his mind creating the fantasy that he is loved and is redeemable, two things that have always been beyond his belief. The final scene between House and Cuddy parallels his fantasy night of detox as Cuddy forgets her anger, replacing it with concern and love as House begins to realize that he is no longer simply suffering hallucinations, but full-blown delusions.

House’s halting “No, I’m not alright,” finally realizing the cruel trick played on him by his own mind, has been months coming. House has been headed for emotional collapse since the end of last season. As guarded as House is, neither Cuddy nor Wilson saw it coming. Were there clues they might have picked up on? Things they might have done to mitigate House’s deteriorating mental state? Was it drugs, or something else? What did they miss?

What a way to end the season. The man who has stood on a ledge for five years has suddenly, tragically (and metaphorically) finally jumped and right down into the rabbit hole. “Both Sides Now,” takes the year of unrelenting emotional and physical trauma endured by its central character to its logical conclusion. A very, very bleak ending to an intense, downbeat season. Hugh Laurie gave yet another raw, brave and gut-wrenching performance. If he does not win the Emmy this year (and I mean it!) there is no justice. At all. Really.

 Doris Egan’s complex script plays with the concept of self-perception. Who we are? What makes us, us? How much of it is wishful thinking, a slightly deluded perception of who we might be; and how much is the reality. Our emotional well-being relies on us being able to tell the difference between the two.

This week’s patient, Scott has undergone surgery on his corpus collosum that stopped his seizures, but destroyed communication between the left (rational) and right (aesthetic) parts of his brain. In his case his left brain doesn’t like what his right brain is doing. And the miscommunication between them leads to something called alien hand syndrome, causing his left hand to do what it wants, when it wants, consequences be damned.

House calls the right brain the brain irrelevant, yet (as Foreman points out) House’s insights and intuition likely stem from that half of his brain (not to mention at least half of his musical gift). The left brain does the math, analyzes the parts. It’s the logician: rational, analytical. It is the most obvious part of House’s personality. The right brain is intuitive, holistic, random and subjective. And without it, House would never be able to synthesize or imagine. He dismisses it because it’s his most fragile part: his creativity, his romanticism, his love of music and art. It reveals him, therefore it must be suppressed.

And in the midst of all this sadness, Cameron and Chase marry in a beautiful ceremony intercut with House’s journey toward his own uncertain future. It’s poignantly ironic that House, understanding Cameron’s fears and advising her to take a chance on happiness, saves her relationship with Chase, as his own possibility for happiness evaporates like a mirage in the desert. The beautiful and haunting melody of the Rolling Stones “As Tears Go By” (and probably my favorite Stones song ever) gives the illusion of a love song. But the lyrics are starkly evocative of where House’s life now stands as he travels the long road to the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. “It is the evening of the day/I sit and watch the children play/smiling faces I can see/but not for me/I sit and watch as tears go by.” No wonder I wept at the end of this stunning finale to a great season.

What does the future hold for House? We’ll have to wait till September to find out.

And I cannot finish this review without saying something about Carl Reiner. He’s 86 years old and still brilliant and funny as hell.

Thanks David Shore, Katie Jacobs, all the writers and directors, cast, and especially the magnificent Hugh Laurie for making this season as powerful as it gets. Thank you to all my loyal readers who have made this column such an enjoyable experience and a great success. I will continue writing through the summer and as promised, later in the week, please look for my exlcusive one-on-one interview with the finale’s writer, House co-executive producer Doris Egan. I’ll be speaking with her later today about the finale and the future. Look for my interview with her later this week, with much more on the finale. So please stay tuned.

House season finale–Both Sides Now

Review is up at Blogcritics. Hope you enjoy.

House Divided on House, MD

Poor House. Sheesh. He’s in a very bad way and not even a good night’s sleep can cure him of his hallucinations. Don’t know what’s coming next, but here’s my review of this week’s episode.

And some great news: I’ll be chatting with Doris Egan (who is the writer of this season’s finale) the morning after her episode airs to talk about the finale, the episode and season six!

Also–Blogcritics magazine, the official home of my House musings (and where I’m a TV editor)  has just undergone a major redesign. The new site is here. The newly designed TV/Film Page, which features my House Divided review is here.

And remember–it’s not too late to take the “Huddy Poll.” More than 1100 people have weighed in. Have you?????

House, MD: “Last Resort”

My review of Last Resort is published over at Blogcritics.  Thank you (at this Thanksgiving time) to all who’ve read and offered comments over the last year I’ve been writing for BC!  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Update on House, etc.

After taking a writing week off post 2008 election (yea! Obama), I’ve been a very busy writing bee.  I posted up three new articles on Blogcrtics yesterday, and here are the links:

an interview withe Executive Producer Katie Jacobs (this link is now fixed–sorry!)

My review of “The Itch”

Review of the great CD/DVD set “Hoggin all the Covers” by Hugh Laurie’s band, Band from TV.  The album has been done to serve the noblest of purposes and all profits are going to charity, so please consider buying it!

House, MD: “Lucky 13”

I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this episode. After last week’s brilliant “Birthmarks,” featuring a terrific reunion for House and Wilson, important character reveals both for their relationship and for House himself, and that sucker punch of a final scene, I was not so interested in this week’s presumed focus on 13.

I like 13, also known as Dr. Remy Hadley, and I think having a fellow with a dire neurological disease is an interesting plot thread. But the show is called House, after all, and I am most pleased (as are many viewers) when the series is focused on him. So, admittedly, after the network hype, press releases, promos (mental note: must stop watching them!) and previews, I was less than enthusiastic.

That said, I should know better. And trust the writers and show creators to serve up a good episode, if one that lacks the emotional punch I got last week. (Well, they can’t all deliver that sort of a sucker punch.) Episode five of this fifth season of House, MD, “Lucky Thirteen,” addresses life changes, the control (or lack thereof)) we exert over them, and how we deal with them.

In 13’s case, she is dealing with the life altering news that she has active Huntington’s Chorea, an aggressive and ultimately fatal genetic disease. She reacts to her disease by cruising gay bars for women (13 is bisexual), using drugs, and drinking heavily. She tells Foreman that she’s trying to cram as much “living” into her shortened life span as she can. And it’s also clear that her hard-living lifestyle is also designed to let her numb herself to the bleak reality of her mortality. If she’s “having fun,” she can’t think about her impending death. But her crash and burn choices can only hasten the inevitable, something that House sees (and understands all too well).

Rest of the article:

An interview with House, MD writers Doris Egan and David Foster

The fifth season of House, MD is off to an intense and exciting start, finding House and his best friend Wilson on the outs in the aftermath of Amber’s death at the end of last season. After a slightly uneven fourth season, House seems to have kicked back into high gear this year. The first three episodes have been packed with drama, keeping the lighter moments as grace notes of comic relief.

Hugh Laurie continues to be the best actor on television, setting a high benchmark for serious television performance. And Tuesday’s episode “Birthmarks,” written by veteran House scribes Doris Egan and Dr. David Foster will likely be counted among the series’ most important episodes, exploring both House’s difficult relationship with his parents and his complex relationship with Wilson.

Egan and Foster kindly sat down with me earlier this week to talk about “Birthmarks” and the series. David Foster has been writing for House since season one, and has written some of the most compelling explorations of House in the series, including “DNR,” “All In,” and “Informed Consent.” He also serves as a medical consultant producer on the series, being a full-on medical doctor. (I’ve hear that he owns his own stethoscope and everything!)


A little speculation about next week’s House, MD

The FOX Network press release for next Tuesday’s House, MD tells us that House’s father dies. On most television shows, we would know what to expect. Funeral, family, tears and hugs, reconciliations and regrets. But seriously, guys, this is House, MD we’re talking about, right? Nothing is ever conventional about House or House. Throw Wilson into the mix (we know he’s there from the episode previews) and who knows what we’ll get? Of course we should expect some sort of exploration about House and his troubled relationship with his dad — and an exploration of House’s fractured relationship with his best friend Wilson. (And speaking of the wonderful duo of House and Wilson, be sure to check out next week’s issue of TV Guide — hitting the newsstands Thursday — which features a wonderful interview with Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard discussing their estranged alter egos.) So, with no new House episode to discuss this week, I thought it might be fun to speculate about how House might confront the death of his father. We already know something about House’s relationship with his parents. And it’s clear that his relationship with them is strained (especially with his father). House seems to avoid all contact with dad, at least. Article continues here

Adverse Events on House, MD

(Apologies to my dear readers for the lateness of this review — the Jewish High Holy Days delay more than Congressional votes!)

“I wanna be what you see when you look at me.” A patient’s teary confession to his girlfriend. It sounds romantic, wanting to be an idealized version of yourself, to make a significant other happy; maybe to love us more. In House’s case, the opposite is often true. He wants others to see what he isn’t — what he keeps deeply buried. Not to be liked better, but to be disliked and distanced. Even to the point that when he may want to be seen in a different light, through a different lens, he fails.

For the patient in season three’s third installment “Adverse Events,” the desire to be seen in a perfect light has driven him to become a human guinea pig. Rather than admit his failure as a portrait artist, Brandon has hidden his unsold paintings, and maintained a nice lifestyle for himself and his girlfriend by selling himself into pharmaceutical research trials. Involved in at least three simultaneous trials, Brandon has begun to suffer visual/perceptual problems. His paintings take on an Edvard Munch-like distorted image of reality. After ruling out a brain tumor, House keeps coming back to the experimental drugs as the source of the problem.

Good detective work by Taub uncovers a pattern in the visually distorted paintings, leading House to conclude that the drugs are indeed causing the problem, but “they’re hiding under the stairs.” More specifically, they’re hiding in a medication “bezoar” — a mass made of hair, fiber, and undigested drugs, which at various times injected a toxic cocktail into Brandon’s system.

But the experimental drugs aren’t all that’s hiding in “Adverse Events.” House has put his new companion and private investigator Lucas on retainer, paying for both his snooping skills (to uncover those pesky hidden things among his staff) and his companionship. It’s an incredibly odd, but somehow strangely satisfying, symbiosis. Their verbal gymnastics are amusing, and House seems to be enjoying the company and the repartee without the judgment, nagging, and lecturing that often characterize his relationship with Wilson. (Not that Lucas can ever really replace Wilson!) But Lucas seems also to have an eye for Cuddy. Should House be worried? (He hates it when Cuddy is interested in anyone. At all.) Or is it all part of a convoluted and distorted game?

More here

Review: House, MD: “Not Cancer”

Over the course of four seasons of House, MD, we have observed its central character (played to perfection by newly-minted executive producer Hugh Laurie) go through a lot. We’ve seen him battered and bruised (emotionally and physically); we have watched him cynical, sarcastic, sappily romantic, desperately ill and in the throes of withdrawal. He’s been depressed and even occasionally happy.

In “Not Cancer,” the second episode of season five, we find House desperate, less and less able to hide his panic and his feelings about the loss of Wilson. They seep into the differential diagnosis sessions and his conversations with the patient; in front of his hired private investigator, they become transparent, as even this hired hand feels House’s agony at having lost Wilson’s friendship.

“What do I get from Wilson?” House inquires absently (and almost to himself) during the first differential diagnosis session. His fellows argue about what might and might not have made six transplant victims ill (and fatally so in several cases). But House’s mind is elsewhere, almost in a parallel scene, ignored as the medical debate continues.

Kutner finally bites: “He paid for your lunch, liked monster trucks and was your conscience.” Of course the question was rhetorical, and House (able to mentally multi-task better than anyone), who appears to not have been paying attention concludes that “it’s cancer.”

So, armed with Kutner’s insights on his “Wilson” problem, and leaving the surviving two patients to the team, House (rather pathetically and awkwardly) goes deep into the wilds of the Princeton Plainsboro cafeteria to seek out a new friend. Passing the “Kutner test” of monster trucks and paying for House’s lunch, the poor victim of House’s friend-lorn attention, Dr. O’Shea, seems not to care that House downs three Vicodin, and better still, like Wilson, has a moralizing opinion of House’s ethics. (Although I have to say that House’s decision not to remove the blind patient’s only functioning eye is more compassionate and certainly more responsible than Foreman’s desire to remove it.) House’s reaction to this potential Wilson-replacement is, “I think I’m falling in love.”

House has also hired Lucas (Michael Weston) a private investigator, who I really thought I would dislike as yet another character in an already too-crowded cast. But I like him. And evidently, so does House, who sees beneath the guy’s slightly dippy exterior to the very sharp-minded man beneath — despite wearing argyle socks with construction boots (and Vans). He has hired the PI to supplement the investigative duties of the fellows, and he appears to be good at his job. But he’s also pretty good at House-reading, and probably has more potential as a Wilson surrogate than O’Shea. He’s a bit of a con man, charging randomly large amounts of money for his information (and doesn’t take checks).

Story continues here….