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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

House- "The Softer Side"

I considered passing on writing a review of last night's House, because I genuinely dislike writing the same thing every week. But it doesn't seem to bother the writing staff of House, so I pressed on.

Let me start of by saying that, even though they've done episodes with sexually ambiguous patients before, I liked the patient of the week story. The way that everyone made unfounded assumptions based on his condition, from his parents to the meddlesome 13, and that there were consequences to these assumptions, was nice to see.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see House doing clinic duty this week, because that aspect of the show had been largely ignored this season, which is unfortunate.

I audibly groaned when the first shot post-cold open was of Foreteen admiring themselves and their cleverness in the mirror. That being said, their relationship was in second or third position this week, which is still a few positions too high, but a marked improvement.

House's "good mood" was an interesting development. Usually, this kind of thing indicates that House has some large scam going on (like when he convinced a husband his cheating wife was actually having a virgin pregnancy) but here the revelation was that House is pain-free due to methadone. I enjoyed the reactions to House's change in temperament, all verging on the hysterical rush to judgment. The scene between House and Wilson at the restaurant, where House figures out that he is being tested for heroin use, only to be caught throwing up the forbidden alcohol outside, was very well done, and reminded me why I keep wishing they'd include more Wilson.

Thirteen's meddling with the patient of the week and his parents was handled well, although it seems amazing that she can keep screwing up with impunity. I did think the writers made some missteps in the scenes between Thirteen and the patient. For instance, shouldn't she have mentioned, when the young boy was worried that wanting to dance might mean he's supposed to be a girl, that some boys like to dance, just like some girls like to play basketball?

The main problem with this episode is (broken record warning) the hasty resolution of a juicy plot line. To be fair, House's decision to cease the methadone treatment was justifiable within the confines of the plot. (House's temperament had contributed to the boy's complications) However, having a nice, or at least pain-free, House around for a few episodes, before ultimately realizing that he couldn't continue with the medication, would build tension and allow for some dramatic future episodes.

This is the problem with Season 5 in general. I don't know where the show is going, and I don't have full confidence that the writers and producers do either. In past seasons there have always been continuing storylines to help build characters and explore them. House's relationship with Stacy, the confrontation with Vogler, the run in with Detective Tritter, and the season-long search for a new team in Season 4. I feel like the private eye House hired at the beginning of the season was supposed to be a major player, but for whatever reason he was dropped abruptly and the show has languished since. (I wasn't a big fan of this character, but it's clear that they didn't have a backup plan)

Overall, I liked this episode well enough, but I'd like to see them do something with these great characters they have. Instead we get bland Foreteen nonsense and single-episode storylines, like Thirteen's tumor and this methadone thing.

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