Friday, September 08, 2006

Guest Blogger Brother on House's "Meaning"

I seem to have not just succeeded in getting my brother to watch House, I've infected him with my own brand of nerddom - the need to dissect the show. Serves him right, since I blame him for the fact that I know more about Dr. Who and Linux than I should. Anyway, he sent me an e-mail after my review of the season opener, because we also share the longwinded gene and he thought it was too much to be a comment to my post. Instead, I'm handing this post over to him because he's a funny boy. Kinda smart too. And I'm sticking in some of what I responded to him, too, because it's my blog, dammit.

Oh, and now that he actually reads this blog, you won't tell him all the nasty things I've said about him in the past, right? So here he is, Big Brother Steve:

Like a lot of others, I was pretty disappointed. It's funny how some of the things that bothered you bothered me as well. [Me: Not so funny, since I'm always right.] I normally like Wilson, but wanted to punch him in the face when he started going on about the "levels of happiness."

I was a little taken aback by him jogging (though I actually liked the choice of Gorillaz for music). Ya, that seemed a little over the top, but isn't it possible for the muscle to grow back? I can see it atrophying from lack of use while he was in pain, but once the pain is gone and he gets physical therapy, wouldn't he regain some function? Not a rhetorical question, I don't know if surgically removed muscle can regenerate.

[Me: I'm not a doctor, I just play one on my blog. But ... some function, maybe, but completely limp-free two months after the pain goes away? He used to limp no matter how much or little Vicodin he'd taken. In "Three Stories" there's a line where he says "because of the extent of the muscle removed, utility of the patient’s leg was severely compromised," and in "Skin Deep," Wilson did an MRI on his leg and said "MRI looks exactly the same as it did two years ago. Nerves don’t seem to be regenerating."

Maybe it shouldn't bug me that much, but the character has been defined by that disability, not just pain, and now it seems like they're changing the rules. It's not good to redefine one of the defining traits of your main character. It just seemed cheap, and they don't usually go for cheap. They don't usually lose me that badly on things just because they might be unrealistic, but it seemed a betrayal of the character, too.]

And yes, he did have a big change of character, but I was able to buy that (I didn't like it, though). He's experienced a huge change in his life, and has an outlook on life that isn't filtered through a shroud of pain and painkillers.

As for not flirting with Cuddy, I guess one could attribute that to a change of character, although you'd think it would be easier to flirt when you're not in excruciating pain. You could argue that he just wasn't in the mood, he just had a revelation on a patient's condition, and was focused on that.

I can't imagine him asking for permission for a simple injection, though. He's lied to get patients transplants, done procedures without consent, human experimentation (poor coma guy).

I had a huge problem with the ending. He "got lucky"? He's been getting lucky for years (yes, that was an unfortunate phrase). Why all of a sudden do they feel this is different?

Anyway, the biggest problem I have is not the rationale behind House's change of character (I'm not even going to start with everyone else's change of character), but the fact that they've changed it. Like it or not, shows are written with formulas for a reason. We get comfortable with the characters and situations and enjoy seeing them explored. The best shows surprise us with believable twists to the characters (I'm not phrasing this well, but I hope you know what I mean). To change a main character's character makes him no longer relevant to the reason we decided to watch his show week after week.

[Me: Exactly. I don't care if this is part of a longer story where he discovers things about himself and ends up with the leg pain and limp back again or whatever, and he gets back to the same old House. If that's what they do, fine, that could be interesting. I can't see them have him be pain free and limp free and just a plain old drug addict, but maybe they could make that work. But whatever they do, TV isn't about getting to an end point that's interesting, it's about each episode being interesting along the way.

Like you said, it's not that I don't buy that he might be more sober after a life-changing experience, but sober House is not why I watch the show. I don't care if it's reasonable to think he might have changed, it's not reasonable to expect the audience to want to watch a character drained of what made him interesting. ]

I don't want to watch "nice" House. I liked sarcastic, funny, flirty House. If I want nice, I'll watch the spin-off show: "Wilson".

The good news is, it won't last. The bad news is, how long do we have to put up with this?

It was doubly disappointing because the season ender was so good. It was really anti-climatic.

[Me: Yeah, I got tired of writing the review - I find it hard to get into them when I don't like the episode - and didn't put in some stuff I meant to say, like that this one was actually written by the same people as the finale (plus a couple more. Maybe that explains why it was a bit of a mess). So even more shocking that it was so disappointing. Especially with the title ("Meaning" vs. the season-ending "No Reason"), I expected it to be more of a sort of bookend to it. We didn't really get much about what meaning House took away from his big epiphany that it's not all about rationality.]

And what happened to big-tongue guy?

[Me: Hopefully his testicles didn't explode and his eye didn't squirt out of its socket and House didn't gut him, and they cured him.

Someone took my comment about the shooter as a criticism, but I actually meant that I'm glad we didn't get closure. It's possible they'll bring it up as a plot again, though I don't think so for some reason. And in any case, I think anything they do with him would be a letdown after how interesting his role was in the hallucination. I don't need to see him brought to justice or anything.

I guess same with big-tongue guy - he wasn't really the point, so it might seem weird to bring him up again long after he should have been either cured or killed.]

Thanks guest blogger bro! Soon I'm going to get you obsessed with Canadian TV, right?