House recap: Head Case
Last night I found myself wishing that I were hanging with House and Wilson in that video editing suite but that instead we were watching a slooow playback of this densely packed hour. At first I had thought I was going to find the premise, the making of a medical documentary, to be another annoying bit of shtick (which it was, a little bit), but playing a hyper-self-conscious House proved to be an excellent opportunity for Hugh Laurie to sharpen his comedic skills.
When first confronted by an in-his-face camera, House mocked Chase’s inability to act naturally, blurting, ”That’s [being] yourself? Fascinating case. I will see you again after I’ve saved his life. Have a warm bath waiting.” I was psyched for good times ahead.
And they did not stop.
I was a wee bit afraid that the film The Elephant Man, which was clearly this week’s inspiration, was going to take over the episode, especially during the opening black-and-white sequence. The patient suffered from a frontal nasal encephalocele, after all, and a little girl was frightened by him at the train station. Fortunately, our medical hero was on hand to lighten the melodrama, nicknaming his patient Big Head during a consult. Big Head. Yes, I laughed.
No matter how much I watch, I am still shocked and awed and delighted by House’s behavior each week, especially when he makes fun of critically ill patients. His rudeness yields some of the best lines on the show. And even though I am well aware that a roomful of clever writers (thank you, clever writers) creates each line that flies out of Hugh Laurie’s mouth, I still react as if the character made that stuff up on the spot. So when House sarcastically commented that he got his inspiration from Patch Adams, I thought, well, laughter is the best medicine and, like House’s fellowship contestants, I’ll eagerly follow him through the hospital hallways waiting for his next sentence.
I was surprised that Dr. Taub was the breakout star of this episode and delighted that Wilson, acting shrinkish, got House to see the error of hiring pretty women whose cup size matches their diagnostic skills. That would be a D for Michael Michele, who was canned for being dumb. Still, I loved it when House told his crew that she got the gig because she had more experience than the swimsuit model.
Good to see 13 redeem herself by correctly diagnosing the problem as Lyme disease and that Allison Cameron’s slip was showing when she confessed on camera to loving Gregory House, who no doubt saw that footage during the screening of the documentary. (Surely Cuddy could not keep that from him.) Both moments were great setups for romantic drama trauma in the weeks ahead.
Fleshing out the Dr. Taub character suddenly made him interesting, now that we know he has one of House’s favorite traits, cheating. (I always love it when House does psychological forensic work on people — and am just glad I am not one of them.) Since ”the Bitch” and Kumar/Kal Penn/Kutner are still cartoons, they seem neck and neck to be up next on the chopping block.
I did not like the treacly bits with Big Head and his father at all. When the kid went all after-school special and told his dad that he didn’t treat him like a normal kid because of the deformity, I wanted House to kill them both with unkindness.
Also, do we need a song to add a clichéd poignant moment to a good show? Tonight’s was Joseph Arthur’s ”My Home Is in Your Head.”
Favorite House retort (said to Cuddy after he was caught eyeballing her): ”Would it be better if I checked out your wardrobe and questioned your ass?”
So TV Watch readers, what do you think? Would you rather work for House, be treated by him, or go out with him?