Tag Archives: reviews

Hope you like the new look

  • I’ve changed the look of my blog to work with my new website, which is being relaunched next week at http://barbarabarnett.com. Things are beginning to gear up for the release of Chasing Zebras: the Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. I’ve seen the interior design of the book, and it is beautiful! I can’t wait to actually see the whole thing–and then, of course, actually hold it in my hands.


  • I will try to post every day as the summer goes on. Next week is Book Expo North America (BEA). I won’t be there, but my publisher ECW Press will be, and for the first time Chasing Zebras will be trotted out in public. The book is complete and and edited and at the typesetters except for the updates for the season six finale. On the other hand, so much has changed as a result of the finale, there are little updates all over the place to make the book current to the start of the seventh season!


  • The whole team at ECW Press has been a dream to work with on this. It’s my first book, and I’ve heard so many nightmare stories about authors (especially new authors) and their trials and tribulations with their publishers. My agent, likewise, has also been a dream. An author could not have asked for a more pleasant first-time experience than I have had thus far.


  • The launch date is still more than 3 months away and we have a long publicity road ahead, with interviews, signings, etc. So it will be a busy, busy summer and fall. Once the site is launched next week, there will be a calendar of radio appearances, and any other upcoming events, including a launch party in September.


  • In the meantime, there is still time to bid on an autographed copy of Chasing Zebras (and an hour of online chat about the show with me) at brenda novak’s auction to support diabetes research. It’s an amazing auction and lots of great stuff for writers, readers and everyone else. Here’s the link to the auction itself and to my item

I’ve also been very busy over at Blogcritics the past week or two, with two new interviews:

House producer/writer Doris Egan

Garrett Lerner, Russel Friend and Peter Blake, who wrote the season finale

Several other new pieces, including my review of the season finale

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My first book: Journaling the Journey


It’s a weird feeling seeing my book up there on Amazon.com, where I’ve bought hundreds of books written by others. Knowing that my book, Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. (ECW Press, September 2010) would be on pre-order sometime during March, I’ve indulged my vanity by checking the site daily. And Friday was the day.

Of course I tweeted the news (from the rooftops); I launched an “author” website, although there’s not much to tell–yet. And feeling rather self-conscious about the whole thing.

The book is six months from hitting the shelves of the local Barnes and Noble; there’s not even an image yet on the Amazon.com site (although I assure you the book has a cover–and a very nice one, which you can see at BarbaraBarnett.com, my “author” site). There’s no description of the book either (it’s an introspective and hopefully intelligent companion guide to the series), yet the first day I hit #48,000 on the Amazon.com sales rank. “See Bestsellers,” the product description provocatively beckoned.

Besteller?! On the first day? Cool. Of course, ever the skeptic, I tried figuring out just how #48,000 actually translated to “bestseller.” It meant, I supposed, that at least someone bought a copy. Maybe more than one. By mid-day Saturday, Chasing Zebras had reached 13,000. And more than that, it was #11 in Guides and Review about Television shows. A menu appeared below the product listing that showed what other products people purchased who also purchased Chasing Zebras. (Obviously mostly books, DVDs and other things to do with House, M.D. and/or its star Hugh Laurie. OK, so now I was pretty sure more than one person bought the book. Very cool indeed.

By Sunday (yes, I’m obsessing), the book has settled to 170,000 (Note to self: learn to toughen that easily bruised writer’s ego.) and #65 on the Bestsellers in TV guidebooks and reviews. Well, at least its still on the best seller lists, for what it’s worth. My agent says that it’s encouraging and a good sign that my book is on the charts at all right out of the gate (especially with no image, no description, no keywords in the product description).

So, who knows what this week will hold. And on into the spring, summer and the book’s official launch. In the meantime, check out the book, if you’d like and follow my blogposts here about my virgin journey in publishing.

House, M.D. Full Review of “House Divided”

I know some of you have had trouble accessing the new Blogcritics site to read and comment. While they’re getting the bugs out, I’ve decided to re-run the review in full here. BC should be working much better in the next several hours to a day from now, but here ’tis…..

Be sure to visit the FOX official site (if you’re not a spoilerphobe) for a very excititng video.

SpoilerTV.com has three clips from Monday’s episode! Wow’s all I can say!

I will be participating in a conference call with Lisa Edelstein on Friday.  As some of you know, I did a one-on-one with her earlier in the year, and a CC with her last spring. She’s always a great interview, either one-on-one or in a (virtual) room full of writers. So stay tuned.

Also–I’ll be having a conversation with Doris Egan after the finale airs. Since she is the writer of the episode, it should be very, very interesting.

That’s all for now!

 

“I haven’t slept through the night since Kutner died.” House’s  (the ever-amazing Hugh Laurie) grave admission  to Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) towards the end of “House Divided” tells us how worried House is about his own sanity. In that confession, the normally very guarded House finally articulates the depth to which he has been affected by Kutner’s death.

What a fantastic episode. The best House, M.D. episodes combine humor, drama, tension and fun; darkness and light. This one had all of that and more. A pivotal episode in this very dark character arc for House (perhaps the darkest yet – and that’s saying something).

As this week’s wild ride of an episode, “House Divided” progresses, Amber’s (Anne Dudek in a phenomenal performance) constant and increasingly aggressive presence becomes more and more difficult for House to cover, as all around him begin to wonder what’s wrong. Sleep deprived and exhausted, House knows she is simply a hallucination, his overworked and sleepless brain playing visual and auditory tricks on him. Taunting him, she asks why she is the one to plague him; why she has become the avatar for his subconscious mind.

With strong resonances to last season’s finale episodes “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart,” Amber reveals what many of us have known all along. House carries with him an awful lot of guilt—the weight of the world, in some ways. Deny and deflect as he does and has, He still feels responsibility for Amber, and more recently for Kutner. “Maybe your guilt over Kutner’s suicide reminds you of how guilty you felt about me,” she needles.

Refusing to engage with a figment of his imagination, House insists to her that she is “the product of my exhausted brain.” But whatever has brought her to House, she sticks to him like “white on rice.” But in an almost creepy progression, Amber morphs from simple annoyance to constant muse to something more sinister.By the episode’s end, House sees her for what she is: his worst inclinations unbound and at play in his conscious, troubled mind. “House Divided” indeed.

We often see House struggling alone in the dark of his office or apartment with his thoughts about a patient, an ethical decision—or even his own life. What are the thoughts that float through that “rat maze of a brain” (as Wilson has put it) that provide House his genius and his biggest problems? With Amber the external embodiment of House’s thoughts, we see how his thought process works. But he’s playing with fire. (So what else is new?)

Amber represents the far reaches: the “glimmers” and glimpses of memory. The fleeting stuff that whooshes by barely considered; barely acknowledged. Those thoughts are always there, but expressed aloud, they have more prominence, and House has easier access. In his current state, Amber may represent a gift, not a curse or irritant.

Properly channeled, maybe Amber’s insights can help restore House’s diagnostic super powers, which he believes he’s losing (as he expressed last episode).

 It’s a seductive idea, especially because House thinks he’s losing his medical mojo. No longer is an annoyance, Amber has become his muse and his ally in solving the current case. Plenty of time to sleep after the patient is diagnosed. Never mind the sleeping pills Wilson has provided; Amber has given House a new lease on his mojo.

But why is she really there? Is she the manifestation of House’s guilt? People who watch the series carefully know that House’s refusal to acknowledge his indirect responsibility for Amber’s death is simply a “river in Egypt.”

Amber’s death hit House very hard, harder than he would have had his colleagues believe. And the subsequent loss of Wilson’s friendship; of his father’s death and Cuddy’s new baby all have taken their toll on House fragile psyche. I have always said that House’s problem is not that he feels nothing or too little, but that he feels too much. And he’s faced an awful lot in the past year.

And then Kutner’s suicide, seemingly random and with no note, no hint, no sign. That was the proverbial last straw. As Wilson told House in “Saviors,” it would be insane if he wasn’t a little out of whack. But House has been sleepless for weeks, haunted by Kutner, probably unable to turn off his mind as it processes every bit of information about him: his life, his work, his family and his death. Long after everyone else has begun to move on, House cannot let go of it. Remember how long he held on to Esther’s death  (“All In,” season two). House is not a “little” out of whack.

And so House acquires Amber as an increasingly dominant presence in his thoughts. But Amber loses her muse’s luster as she dominates House’s process. She becomes more and more real to him, as the story progresses. And as Amber becomes a more and more dominant element to House’s thought process, House begins to  accept Amber’s thoughts and ideas to the exclusion of all else—even his own conscious thought.

Has House really lost that much confidence in his own medical judgment and second guess himself (literally)? Those little glimmers and flashes are in the back reaches of memory for a reason. They’re great to access in small bits: a memory there; an idea here. But as House retreats more and more into himself, he begins conflate those flickers of ideas for something more substantial. Although Amber holds the key to some correct diagnostic turns and some that are very wrong. House loses his ability to distinguish between them, relying on Amber rather than his conscious and filtered thought processes.

Eventually even House’s team fades into a surreal vision, seeming far less tangible than Amber, as House retreats further and becomes more isolated from reality. House’s mind wanders through memories of medical school (which may be helpful to the diagnosis) to strippers, as Amber helps him remember the stripper used at one of Wilson’s bachelor parties as he prepares to hold one for Chase.

When House’s Amber-inspired diagnosis turns out to be wrong—and he forgets that Chase is allergic to strawberries—House begins to realize that his insomnia-induced hallucination may not be the gift it appears to be. When called back into the unfinished case, House tells Cuddy that he can’t do it, no longer trusting either his instincts or his skills. Locking himself away in his apartment,  where he can do no more damage to the patient, he turns the case over to his team. Despite Amber’s urging, House begins to understand the terrible trouble he’s in. And that Amber must go.

Finally going to Cuddy to get a new prescription for sleep meds, Cuddy asks him what’s wrong. “Talk to me,” she pleads. Seeing Amber standing there as real as Cuddy, and looking deep into his own heart, the seriously freaked-out House is able to admit to not having slept since Kutner died. But not even a good night’s sleep can rid House of his hallucination.

Impaired as he is, House treats Seth, a deaf 14-year old wrestler. Suddenly when in a meet, he “hears” explosions. Exploding head syndrome in kid who lost his hearing at the age of four.  Wondering why he hasn’t had cochlear implants, which would allow him to regain his hearing, House learns that Seth is unwilling to leave the comfort of the disability and culture to which he’s adapted. His mother is being his prime enabler.

House has had such dilemma with patients before, where questions of quality of life lead House to propose dangerous procedures or to mock family members who would prevent him from taking a risk that could bring the patient back to “normal.” “Merry Little Christmas,” “Half-Wit” and this season’s “Painless,” (although that patient simply wants to die) all get to that very sensitive spot in House.  

House can never understand why people would choose to be disabled when they can be normal. He can’t process why anyone could be comfortable in their disability to the point that they refuse to undergo even a simple procedure to become “normal.” House convinces Chase to insert cochlear implants without the family’s consent. He, with Amber’s urging, is convinced that once the kid has the implants, he’ll adjust and be fine with it; as will the mom.

But how different is Seth than House? Is House too comfortable, wearing his disability (and the drug use) like a badge, afraid to try to “fit.” Does he need someone to push him off the edge to get him to save himself? Yes, House has tried (and has been at least half-heartedly trying) all sorts of things to end his pain. But he’ll try (like the methadone) and stop when the risk of losing his gift becomes too great for him to continue to risk it. But is Amber’s real role to be a genuine scare in House’s life? A dramatic enough scare to cause him to change?

The only thing House values in himself is his intellect and his medical gift. If he can’t trust his own skills (as he could not by the end of the episode) what does he have left? What would be the one thing to drive House to seek help? It would be the loss of his skill—or the loss of his rational thought. I don’t think he’s at that point yet, but there are still two episodes to go.

Lightening up the very dark journey into House’s subconscious is the planning of Chase’s bachelor party. House planning the Caligula-esque fete is hysterically funny–he’s like a kid in a candy store. Sending Foreman and 13 out to scout strippers is an inspired move, and the fiery  cocktails are pretty amazing. Not to mention the alcohol drenched ice cream. Inspired. That Gregory House sure can plan a party when he wants to. And kidnapping Chase: priceless. Is he just into parties, or is doing something nice for Chase? Is he trying to ruin Chase’s happiness with Cameron, or simply wishing Chase well in the best “guy”-way he can?

It’s not the party, but the planning that seems to make House happy. House has never really shown himself to be a party person. (Although he talks a good game.)

Having seen a couple of the party clips before the episode aired, I could not quite understand how House, the reclusive, guarded, private man he is could be partying like that. Turns out that he didn’t. He set it up, he got it going and then distances himself completely. Very, very House-like.

I am growing to like “Foreteen.” I loved the fact that Foreman paid money to see 13 have fun with the stripper. And Wilson? What a cheap drunk he is, isn’t he? Chase was adorable, and Cameron was resigned by willing to go along with the whole thing—sort of.

But the party, a delirious, dizzy affair, turns dark when Chase licks the strawberry butter from the stripper’s stomach and goes into anaphylactic shock. House blames himself, cursing his subconscious (in the guise of Amber) for possibly killing Chase. Obviously, either House forgot or didn’t know, or was too tired to remember. Hit hard with the notion that he could have caused another death of someone close to him. More guilt. “I knew about the body butter; I knew about Chase’s allergy: I tried to kill Chase. Why would I do that?” That one line, House taking the blame on himself for Chase’s allergic reaction is almost the scariest moment of the evening. What would make him take on yet more guilt? Undeserved guilt.

And then this week’s sucker punch. House looking much better after a good night’s sleep and not seeing Amber is also feeling better thinking he’s rid of her. Until there she is. Right with him. Major freak out for House. Whew!

And next week. All I can say is take the “Huddy” poll (if you haven’t already). More than 1100 people have already voted. “Under My Skin” airs Monday night at 8:00 p.m. (ET) and the season finale, “Both Sides Now,” will air on May 11. Just as a note, I will be interviewing “Both Sides Now” writer (and House co-executive producer) Doris Egan the day after the finale airs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Lovin’ House, M.D After Five Seasons!

New article for all you House and Hugh Laurie lovers—

 

http://blogcritics.org/archives/2009/04/21/112729.php

House, MD: Joy to the World

“Merry Christmas, Cuddy.”
I couldn’t imagine words normally intended to be so joyous could be uttered as poignantly as House did in the penultimate scene of Tuesday night’s House, MD episode “Joy to the World.” (Although Hugh Laurie’s brilliance at portraying pathos should never come as a surprise — and it’s the second time he’s made me cry with those very words in a House episode.)

So Cuddy has her baby, and what a difference a month has made in the dynamic between her and House. Back in “Emancipation,” the news that Cuddy was going to adopt a baby landed a sucker punch in the gut. In “Joy,” House badgered her about being a mother — until he saw that it was something she really wanted and kissed her with passion, affection, and regret at having hurt her.Of course that was after Cuddy had lost the baby.

Story continues at BlogCritics magazine:
http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/12/10/224624.php

So…what do you think might happen to the House/Cuddy storyline????

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:

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