Monday, June 18, 2012


Signing off...

By Edward Copeland
Unfortunately, it's clear that my current situation at home never will allow me to carry on with my work here and if I can't do this the way I want to, they might as well put a bullet in my head — alas, they are neither that understanding nor merciful. Thanks for reading. I hope you've enjoyed it.


Friday, June 08, 2012


The Larry Sanders Show Season 3 Ep. 11: Larry Loses a Friend

By Edward Copeland
This episode doesn't belong on the top shelf of episodes of The Larry Sanders Show, but even its weakest installments outshine some of the strongest episodes of what the commercial networks passed off as comedies in the two decades since Sanders debuted. We've passed the midpoint of the 17-episode order the series had for its third season, a more difficult burden than HBO demands of any of its shows now, which merely produce 10-13 installments at most a season. This outing, written by John Riggi (who also played Mike Patterson, one of Sanders staff writers who got canned earlier this season in the "Headwriter" episode), begins with Beverly (Penny Johnson) admiring a large bouquet of flowers on Darlene's desk — flowers that don't seem to please Darlene (Linda Doucett), especially because of the diamond bracelet that came with it. Beverly guesses the jewelry must be worth at least $2,000. The entire package arrived courtesy of one of the guests on Larry's show that night, Jon Lovitz. Darlene wishes Lovitz would stop. He does this every time he's on the show.

Beverly expresses shock when Darlene reveals this, inquiring if Lovitz gives her a new piece of jewelry every time. Darlene shakes her head no and explains that at first, he just sent flowers. The next time, the flowers came with a Dottie West CD. Then accompanying the bouquet were Hummel figurines. The last time he appeared on the show, Darlene received flowers and a pasta maker, Now, Lovitz has upped the ante to a diamond bracelet. As Beverly remains transfixed by the bracelet and Darlene sits looking glum, Hank steps out of his office and reminds Darlene to double-check with Artie that they're still on for the Dodger game that night — then Hank notices the flowers and asks who sent them. Before anyone answers, he reads the card aloud, "Looking forward to seeing you again. As always, Jon." the always self-centered Kingsley smiles. "You see, I think it's courageous for one man to send flowers to another man," Hank tells the women before taking the bouquet and announcing that he's going to put them in a place of prominence in his office — perhaps on the air conditioner. As Hank returns to his office, Beverly cracks up but laughs continue to evade Darlene.
DARLENE: What am I gonna do?
BEVERLY: Oh, about Jon? Well, just ask Paula to book him two more times.
DARLENE: What good will that do?
BEVERLY: None, but by then you'll have flowers and a Miata.

Jon Lovitz sits in the back of a limo in the studio's parking lot. He asks his chauffeur (Mark Roberts) if he should just go up to the show's offices, but the driver tells him that they're sending someone down to escort him up. The driver asks Lovitz how many times he's done Larry's show. "I think like, thirteen. Fourteen if you count when I got bumped for Desert Storm. Fucking Saddam Hussein," Lovitz gripes. "You must like Larry a lot. Is that why you do it so often?" the driver inquires. "Yeah. I mean I like Larry a lot, but, you know, he's got this beautiful…" Lovitz self-censors as the chauffeur turns around. Lovitz questions whether he can use the limo's phone. The driver tells Lovitz he can and asks if he'd prefer that he raise the partition. "Well, let me ask you a question. Did you see City Slickers 2?" "No," the driver admits. "Well, then put it up," Lovitz says, making the motion of the partition rising with his hands.

Beverly shows the bracelet to Paula while the two of them and Darlene hover around the kitchenette. "What's the big deal? It's a bracelet," Paula says, this time with Janeane Garofalo in her season of many hair colors sporting a reddish-brown shade. "You're just mad because all your bracelets are made out of shoe laces," Beverly responds dismissively. "I gave you one," Paula declares with a combination of hurt and anger. Beverly, realizing her etiquette faux pas, tries to repair the damage. "I know and I liked it. I'm sorry," Beverly apologizes as Paula stomps off. "I did. It was different." Beverly returns to worshipping the "gorgeous" bracelet and asks Darlene if she'd care if she wore it for the rest of the day, then gave it back. Darlene tells her to keep it and walks off. Beverly pursues, asking her why she doesn't just stop it by going out with Lovitz — he's funny and nice. Darlene informs Beverly that she refuses to date anyone in the business anymore. "No comics, no actors, no magicians," she proclaims. Hank emerges from his office again. "Darlene — Artie — ballgame," he intones. Before Darlene can answer, the phone rings and she answers, "Hank Kingsley's office. Can you hold one minute?" and then drops the receiver as if it were on fire and runs off. It does set up for our first candidate for Hank Kingsley Line of the Night, delivered by the inimitable Jeffrey Tambor. Hank picks up the phone and awkwardly says, "Hello." Of course, it's Lovitz on the other end. Hank thanks him for sending the flowers, telling Lovitz, "I'm just nutty about irises."

Another aspect of The Larry Sanders Show (aside from Tambor's brilliant creation of Hank Kingsley) is that even the weaker episodes always get juice by pairing any combination of Rip Torn's Artie with Garry Shandling's Larry or Tambor's Hank (or Hank and Larry or a rollicking triple threat of putting all three together in a scene) to spin comic gold no matter the subject matter. In this episode, the first time we see Artie and Larry, they appear in a short, but fun duet, though Torn really owns the scene, as Artie uses a distracted Larry to his advantage to get out of the ballgame with Hank. It begins with the producer and the talk show host seated across from each other in Larry's office where Arthur teases Larry about what he just pulled out of his pocket and is shaking in front of his face while humming.

LARRY: (Stopping what he's doing.) What are those?
ARTIE: These are tickets to the Dodger game tonight. (Artie stands and walks to the other side of the desk next to Larry as
he continues to talk)
Hank and I have an evening out together once a year. Just the two of us. Tonight is that night.
LARRY: (continuing to look at things on his desk) Great. That'll be nice.
ARTIE: Yeah. These tickets are right behind the home plate. Nine innings of me listening to Hank whine about his marriage bullshit.
LARRY: (Looking up with a mischievous grin) Oh, you stay for the whole game, huh?
ARTIE: (Dangling the tickets in front of him, practically in Larry's face) Don't you want to go?
LARRY: Huh? Well, I don't even have tickets. I'm not going.
ARTIE: (Sarcastically faking disappointment) Oh, I hate to part with them. Hank will be so disappointed. Why don't you take Jon Lovitz? (Artie gets all those lines out so fast you barely notice he's already sprinted to the office door to escape) Took you a long time to figure out what I was getting at, didn't it? Have a big lunch, today?"
LARRY: Yeah. (Artie leaves, closing door behind him. Artie's intentions finally dawn on Larry.) Oh. He doesn't want to go with Hank.

Darlene confides to Hank about Lovitz's continued gift giving. "I have to admit I found the flowers and gifts cute at first," Kingsley says. "I'm still getting a lot of use out of that pasta machine because there's nothing better than fresh pasta, but you're right. You're right. It's obviously — it's gone too far." Hank promises Darlene he'll take Lovitz aside and talk to him. "Oh, you're so sweet," Darlene tells Hank, giving him a big hug. "I am. I am sweet," Hank concurs.

We do receive the treat of the corollary scene to Artie tricking Larry into taking his Dodger tickets. Now, he must sell the idea that it wasn't his idea to Hank. He enters the makeup room where he encounters one of that night's guests, Jarina Venvenich (Elsa Raven), "the bird lady," who carries two feathered friends on her arm that Artie greets as Scooter and Pepper. "Where's Poncho?" Artie asks. "He's no longer with us," she answers on a heavy accent. Artie inquires as to Poncho's fate, suggesting some possibilities in Jarina's native tongue. "He was eaten by our neighbor's Rottweiler," Jarina informs him before she exits. Hank sits in the makeup chair getting prepped by Bruno. He complains that no one told him that the birds would be on the show or he would have taken his allergy pills. Artie insists he told Darlene early that morning.

HANK: Oh well. I don't care if my face swells up like a pumpkin. We're not going to miss that game tonight. (Notices Artie's expression.) Oh goddammit.
ARTIE: Bad news, buddy. Larry wanted to go to the game. He heard I had tickets —
HANK: You gave him our tickets?
ARTIE: Gave him? He took them. He's the fucking boss. My hands were tied.
HANK: He's a fucking baby.
ARTIE: (coughs to indicate Bruno's presence) Well, all I'll say is he's very complicated.
HANK: One night out and Mr. Big Man thinks he can take anything —
ARTIE: I hear you, but next year is right around the corner, buddy
HANK: It's not about the game. I just wanted to have some special time with you —
ARTIE: (wiping something on Hank's face) What's the matter, sugar? Is the marriage that bad?
HANK: (Shakes head no) It's the fucking birds.
ARTIE: You're telling me. I've been married five times. They were all the fucking birds. (Artie leaves)
HANK: No, that — (to Bruno) You knew what I meant, didn't you?

Larry meets Jon Lovitz after he gets off the elevator on the show's floor, but Lovitz definitely has his mind elsewhere. Larry invites him to see the Dodgers after the show and Lovitz says it sounds great, but doesn't act as if he really heard what Larry offered. Sanders tells Lovitz he'll walk him to his dressing room, but Lovitz declines, saying he wants to say hi to someone first. Larry walks off confused and Lovitz enters the office area of the show, making a beeline for Darlene's desk. He leans over her desk and quietly speaks her name. "Hi," Darlene responds unemotionally while continuing to type. "You look beautiful today — as usual," he tells her in the same quiet voice that, frankly, borders on the creepy. "Thank you," she replies almost as quietly as he's speaking. He asks if she got the flowers he sent her and looks around for them. (Lovitz should realize Hank intercepted them since he thanked him for them on the phone.) He also asks about that "little gift," which Darlene also confirms she received but she runs into trouble when Lovitz wants to see the bracelet. In a phrase you don't hear often around the Larry Sanders office, Darlene is saved by the Hank, who appears and asks her to call makeup, "and tell them to come and remove my tissues." Kingsley rolls his eyes and Lovitz steps back and folds his arms, looking miffed. Darlene offers to handle the task but Hank won't let her, insisting she get Bruno because, "It's a union thing." Darlene exits and Hank moves in, calling Lovitz "Jonny" and beginning with his trademark "Hey now." "Welcome back Mister (pause) Funny, Mister Movie Star," Hank lays it on. "You forgot Mister Hunk," Lovitz adds. "I was getting to that," Hank says. Then Hank gets serious, asking if they can talk. He tells Lovitz that he's heard that he has a thing for Darlene and wants to know if it's true. Lovitz's expression almost turns ashen, but then he brightens up and admits it, saying how terrific he thinks she is. Hank agrees that Darlene is fabulous. "I think she's really starting to warm up to me," Lovitz declares. "A piece of advice — don't go there," Hank warns. "Just don't waste your time because, frankly, she's not available." Lovitz assures Kingsley that he checked first and knows she isn't dating anyone currently. Hank looks stuck — obviously his Plan A just went up in flames — so he asks Lovitz to come speak to him in a more private area. "See, I don't even know if this is my place to say," Hank tells Jon as he closes the door to the conference room. "See, the way that you want to go. This lady — she doesn't go that way," Hank lies to a stone-faced Lovitz. Lovitz makes him spell it out. Kingsley stumbles but finally gets out the words, "She prefers women." "Oh that's bullshit!" Lovitz snaps, Hank stands by the lesbian story, but Lovitz doesn't believe him, naturally wondering why she wouldn't have said anything to him after all this time. Hank tries to make the case that a person's sexual preference can be a very private thing, but Lovitz still isn't buying his story. Hank abandons ships and tells Lovitz he has to go, but Lovitz chases him back to his office. "Hank, is she seeing a woman now?" he asks. After some more fumbling, Kingsley finally says, "Yes. Yes, she is" before closing his office door and hiding inside.

Perhaps saying "Saved by the Hank" might have been premature. The situation can't be improving now that we see Phil (Wallace Langham), once briefly a Darlene dating partner, wandering toward the kitchenette where Darlene prepares a snack. After the standard pleasantries, Phil opens with "So, you're a lesbian." Darlene doesn't know what he's talking about. "It kind of makes sense. A lot of stuff that we went through makes sense now. I only wish you could've told me yourself instead of me having to hear it from Paula," Phil tells a thoroughly confused Darlene. "Paula told you I was a lesbian?" she asks him. "Oh and I think Larry's gonna be really pissed when he finds out you've been seeing Beverly," Phil adds. It didn't take long for that fake story to spread and metastasize. Backstage, Hank stands sipping a cup of water after taking something off a tray a man holds when Darlene comes barreling down the hall toward him, leading him away. "What? Easy? Spilling! Spilling!" Hank says as Darlene keeps herding Hank to another location. "That's how you get Jon Lovitz to leave me alone — by telling everyone that I'm a lesbian!" she yells at him. "I didn't tell everyone. Jon asked Paula to confirm what I told him. You know how she is with gossip. She's like a terrier after a rat," Hank says in his defense. "Hank, how could you do this?" Darlene demands to know. "Now Darlene, I didn't know you had a thing against gay people. Frankly, I'm a little offended to find this out," Hank responds as only Kingsley could. "Hank, you lied," Darlene tells him. "I didn't — now come on — like you've never been with a woman?" Hank asks, digging that hole for himself deeper and deeper. "Like you've never been with a man?" Darlene fires back. Kingsley seems to get the point and says, "Fucking tabloids."

Lovitz and Larry are joking around in Larry's office while Larry has a snack when Jon brings up the subject of Darlene. Sanders brings up that she posed for Playboy, referring back to the Season 2 episode "Broadcast Nudes." "Did you see it?" Lovitz asks. "No," Larry lies. Jon then brings up that Hank told him that Darlene is a lesbian but that he thinks he's "full of shit" giving Larry his own moment of pause, since he and Darlene also had their brief fling earlier this season in the "Office Romance" episode. "Listen, if she's not, can you do me a favor? Can you force her to go out with me?" Lovitz asks Larry. "Force her to go out with you. You want me to force her to go out with you," Larry repeats, doing well to hide the fact that he can't believe what he's hearing. "It's your show, isn't it? She has to do what you say, right?" Lovitz says. "That would be called sexual harassment," Larry tells him quite rightly. "Oh, come on. 'Blow me' — that's sexual harassment," Lovitz replies. He asks Sanders to be a pal and just do him this one favor. Larry stands and tells Lovitz he can't. "I have to go talk to the bird lady." As he's leaving, Lovitz persists. "What people do with their own time is their own business. I don't meddle," Larry declares as he leaves Lovitz alone in his office. "So she is a lesbian?" Jon yells at the closed door.

The next sequence stands out as being slightly different from the norm for The Larry Sanders Show. There's a quick scene with Lovitz in the makeup chair while Paula does the pre-interview and he begins telling her an anecdote from the making of City Slickers 2. A quick cut takes us to Larry's office where Paula finishes the story, sharing it with Larry who rejects it and says to instruct Lovitz to go with the tuxedo rental story instead. Paula doesn't know what Sanders is referring to, but he swears Jon will know "He tells it every goddamn time we go shopping. It's hilarious," Larry replies in a pissed-off tone. Another quick cut finds Paula in Jon's dressing room listening as Lovitz finishes relaying the tux rental story without an ounce of enthusiasm. "It's not funny," Lovitz says. "It's not funny, but it's cute that you and Larry shop together, I guess," Paula comments, caught in the deterioration of these two men's friendship and still trying to perform her job. "It's adorable. I just love spending hours watching him try on hundreds of pairs of pants," Lovitz complains. He then imitates Larry and asks, "Does my ass look fat in these pants?" Lovitz laughs and seems to return to normal. "He's a nice guy but sometimes he's just wrong." He asks Paula to tell Larry to keep the movie story as well. Paula promises that she will and Lovitz says he'll owe her one.

After Paula leaves, Darlene knocks on the door. Lovitz gets giddy at the sight of her, but she has just come to set him straight about the rumor that she is a lesbian. It isn't true, she tells him. He says he knew and then asks where they'll be going after the show. Darlene asks him to sit down. She tells him that the reason she can't go out with him is because he works in show business and she's been hurt too many times. Lovitz collapses back on the couch. "Fine. I'm so tired of this, you know. Yeah, why would you want to go out with someone who's famous and rich and handsome and can give you the life you always dreamed of and can make you laugh all the time? Yeah, pass," Lovitz whines. Darlene apologizes and leaves as Beverly enters carrying a mug of cocoa that Lovitz requested. He spots the bracelet on her wrist. "Where'd you get that?" he asks. "Darlene gave it to me," Beverly replies, then corrects herself, saying she's just borrowing it until tonight since the two of them are going to a women's meeting together. Lovitz starts moaning as if he's going to puke. "Uh. It's true," Lovitz groans as he rushes out of the dressing room. Beverly runs down the hall shouting Paula's name.

Larry stands bent over in the dressing room with his pants around his knees when Paula bursts in. "Hey, knock, why don't you?" Larry says, pulling up his pants. "Why are you putting your shoes on before you pull your pants up?" she asks. "I always do. Superstitious. Thank God you weren't in here a few minutes ago when I was painting my balls," he tells her. "Lovitz walked," Paula informs the host. He immediately blames her, wanting to know what she said to him. She said she didn't say anything. She just told him that Larry wanted him to do the tux story and Lovitz didn't want to do it, then he bolted. "What a child. He's a fucking child," Larry complains. He also catches a glimpse of himself in the full-length mirror. "God, my ass looks fat in these pants!"

Larry, Darlene, Paula and Beverly have assembled in Larry's office, but Artie has resumed control of the ship. "Cut the horseshit, Adam. Your client walked off our show. Now what are you going to do about it, huh? If you can't control your own people, you should be out of the business," Artie shouts into the phone. "Give my regards to the darling Jamie. Bye-bye." Larry wants to know what Adam said. "He said Lovitz will not be back and he's very upset," Artie reports. Larry asks what Lovitz has to be upset about, just because he wouldn't let him tell the City Slickers 2 story. Paula suggests three segments with the bird lady and then Carl Sagan. "Unless Mister Sagan comes out and shits a string of pearls, we have no show," Artie proclaims. Larry's phone rings and it's Jon Lovitz. He apologizes for Paula about the movie story and tells him that "just between us, she has an eating disorder." Larry doesn't hear a response from Jon on the other end. Darlene asks to speak with him. Larry insists that Lovitz got mad about the movie anecdote. Darlene tells him he hurt his feelings by not going out with him. Beverly takes the blame because he saw her wearing the bracelet. Larry still wants it to be his fault. "Are you telling me that you've never been upset when you were romantically spurned?" Artie asks Larry. "Not like this," Larry claims. "Emma Samms," Artie says. Larry says Artie promised he'd never bring that up and it wasn't that big a deal. "You turned on her alarm system," Artie continues. "You did not read the police report," Larry insists. "I'm quoted quite liberally in it," Artie replies. Larry tells Jon that Darlene wants to talk to him. It turns out he's in the limo in the parking lot so Darlene heads down.

Darlene tells him how impressed she was that he walked off the show for her. It proves that he's not like the other industry guys. The camera pans and Larry also sits in the limo. He hands Jon the tickets to the Dodgers game and suggests he take Darlene to it after the show because he has another problem to deal with. "You can guarantee she's not a lesbian," Lovitz asks. Larry does, then Hank speaks up. He's there as well. "Jon, guys and nothing but guys. That's our Darlene in a nutshell," Kingsley swears. "Uh, I can vouch for it too. We went out briefly," Phil tells him, having somehow made it to the limo and sitting between Hank and Artie. "I think she's just swell but we've got a fucking show to do, so let's move it," Artie suggests. Everyone exits the limo except for Artie, Hank and Larry. Hank begins to tell a story about his wife and Artie tells him to shut up and he'll take him to dinner. "This whole thing just doesn't make sense. Can you imagine Darlene with another woman?" Larry asks. The three men all drift off into dreamy thoughts.

While the episode has its moments, it seems undercooked. They drag Beverly into the rumor but you never see her going ballistic on anyone and you expect a payoff with the bird lady that never comes. Torn, Tambor and Shandling turn in great work as always, but it almost seems as if their roles. particularly Torn's, were limited this week. While Sanders certainly can be self-absorbed, it becomes a little hard to swallow that he still thinks that Lovitz got upset over him not wanting him to tell the story about the incident on the City Slickers 2 set when he stormed out on Lovitz when he tried to get him to force Darlene to date him. Thankfully, the season soon will pick up in a big way.

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Sunday, June 03, 2012


Paging Dr. House!

UPDATE: Final installment that completes list of 10 favorite episodes has been posted. You can skip directly to the fourth part by clicking here.

By Edward Copeland
On May 21, the television series House (I refuse to use that blasted M.D. in the title — no one does anyway) ended its eight season run. I planned to do a suitable tribute along with a list of my 10 favorite episodes later in the week. I felt no need to rush my piece — no time-sensitive projects loomed on my calendar and I managed to get a review of the finale posted the day after — so I thought I'd earned the right to let it ferment before allowing the world a chance to read it. Unfortunately, as I prepared the piece with care, my body began to weaken from some sort of bug so I got less done and it did begin to bump up against other projects so I finally had to bite the bullet and get this out there — then a series of violent thunderstorms combined with my laptop suddenly acting flaky bumped against my longest, most exhausting doctor's appointment just as I neared completion. I kept feeling puny — sometimes sleeping most of a day away. Then I got pissed and decided I would finish this, starting by sending the two completed portions out ASAP. (The 10 favorites will begin in the second part). I owe it to the show, the character, Hugh Laurie and most of the cast. I wish this had turned out better, but the fates seemed aligned against it, but here it is, warts and all. I also wanted the thought that occurred to me while contemplating this tribute finally out in the universe (if anyone else posited this theory before, I apologize because it never crossed my path). I already miss Laurie and the creation he embodied for eight seasons, a character with a secure spot on the list of all-time great television characters. That ill-mannered, tell-it-like-it-is, Vicodin-addicted, crippled, socially maladjusted genius never failed to entertain me (even though the series that contained him hadn't accomplished that consistently for several seasons). As noted repeatedly and endlessly, House basically reimagined Sherlock Holmes in a medical setting, with Robert Sean Leonard's Wilson serving as his Dr. Watson. However, the more I reflected on Gregory House, the more I noticed that it's a different detective with whom he shares more striking similarities.

The detective that I saw signs of in Gregory House and vice versa (though not a 100 percent match — except for a brief separation, Pembleton had a happy married life) received his induction in that great TV character hall of fame back in the 1990s. When this parallel punched me in the face as I began this tribute, I believe the behind-the-scenes team at House must have had this thought in mind when they cast Andre Braugher as House's psychiatrist, Dr. Darryl Nolan, during his stay at Mayfield Mental Hospital since Braugher brought Baltimore homicide detective Frank Pembleton to life on Homicide: Life on the Street. I also think we can rule out coincidence as a factor because of Paul Attanasio, Attanasio served as an executive producer for all eight seasons of House. He also created Homicide: Life on the Street and wrote its first episode, “Gone for Goode,” basing Frank and the other characters on real Baltimore homicide detectives depicted in former Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon's nonfiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, before Simon turned to television himself. If you don't believe me, let's compare the detective and the doctor in more detail.


  • GREGORY HOUSE: Mainly Vicodin, but what else you got?
  • FRANK PEMBLETON: Nicotine and caffeine


  • HOUSE: Brilliant but alienates others with arrogance
  • PEMBLETON: Brilliant but alienates others with arrogance


  • HOUSE: "Our job is to find what's killing patients, not treat them for chronic idiocy."
  • PEMBLETON: "Crime makes you stupid."


  • PEMBLETON: Prefers to work solo; protests when forced to work with partners. Early in "Gone for Goode," Frank's boss, Lt. Al Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) forces him to investigate a murder with Detective Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin).
    FELTON: Amazing. Life is amazing.
    PEMBLETON: Really?
    FELTON: This must be a mistake. Am I actually going on a routine call with Frank Pembleton?
    PEMBLETON: You're right. It's a mistake.
    FELTON: Frank Pembleton only works the big investigations. This is just some dead guy.
    PEMBLETON See what happens when I come into the office?
    FELTON: Imagine — handling a routine call with Detective Frank Pembleton.
    PEMBLETON: I'm slumming.

  • HOUSE: Would avoid work entirely if he could; eventually values team since it means he can avoid patients. In the first episode of House, "Everybody Lies," Cameron, Chase and Foreman (Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer and Omar Epps) have sat idle in the conference room for days while House holes up in his office, not using them or doing much of anything. It prompts Wilson to get on his case and remind him of the qualified staff at his disposal, finally convincing him to take a case by telling him the patient happens to be his cousin. It does set the precedent for the series of House doing everything he can to avoid speaking to the patients. "Isn't treating patients why we became doctors?" Foreman asks his new boss. "No, treating illnesses is why we became doctors. Treating patients is what makes most doctors miserable," House replies.


  • PEMBLETON: Department rules requires detectives to carry their guns with them at all times, though Frank often ignores it unless they're apprehending a suspect,
  • HOUSE: If you have to ask, you probably never watched the show, but for a sample from the first episode pertaining to dress codes.

  • HOUSE: "See that, they all assume I'm a patient because of the cane."
    WILSON: "Then why don't you put on a white coat like the rest of us?"
    HOUSE: "Then they'll think I'm a doctor."


    House might enjoy staying away from his patients as long as he can, but he isn't bashful about boasting about his successes with a blurted, "I rock!" or some equivalent just as Pembleton similarly brags to rookie Detective Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), now his unwelcome partner, about what he will see in the infamous Box, where they interrogate murder suspects. "What you will be privileged to witness will not be an interrogation, but an act of salesmanship — as silver-tongued and thieving as ever moved used cars, Florida swampland, or Bibles. But what I am selling is a long prison term, to a client who has no genuine use for the product," Pembleton proclaims. Needless to say, both men lived to solve puzzles, the major difference comes from what motivates the detective and the doctor. House figures out the puzzle for the puzzle's sake, but Frank puts the mystery to an end because he feels as if the responsibility to speak for those murder victims who can't rests with him. The reason Pembleton believes this is his duty brings him closer to House in yet another way. While House makes no secret of his atheism, Pembleton hasn't gone that far, but he doesn't hide his anger at God, who the Jesuit-educated detective thinks no longer watches or cares about his creations. Pembleton's loss of faith runs so deep that he refuses to step inside a church. While Pembleton's character lacked an infirmity akin to House's leg when Homicide began, but he suffered a stroke at the end of the fourth season that he necessitated a recovery. (Well acted, as always, by Braugher, but why give your best character whose greatest attribute comes from his use of language impairment of that gift?) Finally, though Pembleton wasn't in charge of the one in the squad room, white boards played key roles in both shows.

    The two shows almost followed similar paths in other ways as well. Both produced three nearly flawless seasons and fourth seasons that continued to offer enough rewards to earn viewer fidelity worthwhile — then both series bore the signs that they'd overstayed their welcomes. The cases, be they murder or medical, ceased to hold our interest as they once did, and constant cast changes made each new season look as if the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (or the Baltimore homicide department) underwent extreme makeovers during the summer hiatus. (Each show had its annoying new additions too — Olivia Wilde's Thirteen on House; Jon Seda's Falsone on Homicide.) In the end, Wilde must have frustrated the show's producers as much as viewers, being absent for most of the seventh season and only present for four or so episodes of the eighth so she wouldn't miss out on once-in-a-lifetime acting opportunities such as Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens and The Change-Up. Granted, Amber's death resulted in some compelling episodes such as "House's Head" and "Wilson's Heart" as well as when Anne Dudek returned to play Cutthroat Bitch as one of House's hallucinations. Still, wouldn't most fans willingly give those episodes up if it meant that House had fired Thirteen instead and Amber had joined the team? Awful decision on someone's part. I heard some people complain about Peter Jacobson as Taub, but I always liked him and if Kal Penn (Kutner) decides he wants to take a huge pay cut to work for the White House and what he believes in most strongly, you hardly can fault him for that. Of the final two additions for season eight, Charlyne Yi's Dr. Chi Park proved to be interesting and funny from the moment she showed up. On the other hand, Odette Annable's character turned out to be such a nonentity that I had to look up her character's name. (Dr. Jessica Adams. Adams rings a bell, but does anyone remember her being called Jessica?) When she showed up with a new hairdo, I didn't immediately recognize that she'd been the doctor in the prison episode. However, though I liked Jacobson, Penn and Yi, no chemistry worked as well as the original cast (which, though I said it immediately afterward, made the ending all the more incomplete without the presence of Lisa Edelstein as Cuddy. I had nothing against Amber Tamblyn's brief role, but I didn't need closure with Masters. Cuddy's absence left a giant gaping hole in the finale.)

    That's why, when I think most fondly about my favorite episodes of House, that my memory inevitably returns to those first three initial seasons. While House, at its core, presents mysteries in the form of medical stories, even in the early seasons and the occasional interesting one that would pop up in later seasons, the puzzle might have been what kept House interested but for the viewer, the regular characters grabbed our attention and earned our loyalty to the show. Sure, Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison continued to be on the show, but once Chase and Cameron left the team, it wasn't the same. This wasn't a series like Law & Order where the procedure proved pivotal to the show and it new cast members could be plugged into roles without harming the series. What a testament not only to Hugh Laurie's brilliance and David Shore's for inventing the character of House in the first place, but the magical chemistry between Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard and Lisa Edelstein. Omar Epps, Morrison and Spencer fit well in those first three seasons as well, but when they came back to the team, some of that magic had vanished through no fault of the performers. How many times could Foreman reasonably quit or threaten to quit? The early elements that made Cameron fascinating — such as the desire to save everyone, especially House — seemed to vanish. What made for an initially interesting idea of Chase choosing to kill the genocidal dictator played by James Earl Jones faded from everyone's memory too fast. That's why it was funny when Cameron returned in the Season 6 episode "Lockdown" to have Chase sign divorce papers and the hospital gets locked down because of a missing infant, trapping the soon-to-be ex-spouses together. "You had a conversation with House, and came back, informed me I had been forever poisoned by him, and started packing," Chase told her, explaining his version of their breakup. "Interesting how your story leaves out the part where you murdered another human being," Cameron replied. As far as I can remember, the incident went unmentioned for the remainder of the series. House's reaction actually could be taken as out of character. When he figures out what happened and he and Chase talk, House says, "Better murder than a misdiagnosis." He advises Chase seek some help, but that's it. When Wilson planned to give a speech endorsing euthanasia, he intervened to save his friend's career. Back in the Season 2 episode "Clueless," he had the wife secretly poisoning her husband to death with gold arrested. He even called the police on one of the potential team candidates, Dr. Travis Brennan (Andy Comeau), after he told him to quit for purposely making a patient sicker with polio-like symptoms to try to fund research for his idea that high doses of Vitamin C would eradicate polio in the Third World. Granted, Chase killed a dictator who ordered genocide, but the Aussie doc, who once entered a seminary, eventually seemed free of any guilt over his act and Foreman bore no regrets about covering it up and even gave House's old job to Chase after House "died." Enough about the series' failings and parallels between House, Pembleton and their shows. This piece celebrates what House did well.

    As I mentioned in my brief farewell to the show prior to the airing of the finale, I came to House late. The show hooked me in a setting where you'd think a series involving medical crises wouldn't prove amenable. Despite the odds, my habitual viewing of House started while imprisoned in two hospitals for three-and-a-half months in summer 2008. Often the only palatable programming on the room's TV turned out to be the endless marathons of House episodes that USA ran. Other than Scrubs, which I counted more as a comedy than a medical drama in spite of serious moments, I hadn't watched any new medical shows since my beloved St. Elsewhere went off the air in 1988. (I admit to watching a single episode of ER, but that's simply because Quentin Tarantino directed it.) Honestly, that much of a line shouldn't be drawn between House and Scrubs because most everything I enjoy on television and in movies tends to contain some comedy or it loses me quickly (and, in its own way, Scrubs touched on reality more than House simply by addressing the issues of billing and insurance). That's why House proved to be such a comfort to me during my long hospital imprisonment. I identified with Gregory House as my personal horror story dragged on. I didn't have a pain pill addiction, but I confess to appropriating parts of his attitude when necessary to get what I wanted and to put idiots in their place. I also enjoyed watching those marathons in the first hospital, a Catholic "not-for-profit" hospital that charged ridiculous fees (A 72-year-old woman was shocked to find she'd been billed for labor and maternity costs) and had the worst TV channel selection that thankfully included USA but only included one cable news channel — Fox. Enjoying my role as asshole, I told them that could violate their tax-exempt status as a religious-affiliated institution by seemingly taking political sides and come January, a new sheriff would be in the White House and I'd feel forced to report them. They kept bribing me to try to shut me up. I got a DVD player. They hooked up a laptop. Thank you, House. Since his exit leaves the prime time landscape with one less openly atheist on TV and the remainder exist on shows I don't watch, a clip of some of his best lines concerning religion.

    It surprised me when I discovered House to see Bryan Singer's name in the credits as one of the executive producers. I knew him as a film director, most of whose films had left me cold until he made the first two X-Men movies. He also directed the House pilot episode, "Everybody Lies," which, like most first episodes, gets bogged down in exposition and character introductions that prevents it from soaring. Singer also helmed the third episode, "Occam's Razor," and by then House's slide into a comfortable groove nearly was complete. Creator David Shore wrote "Occam's Razor" and, like nearly every episode of those early seasons, it came full of memorable dialogue. Two choice selections courtesy of House himself: "No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate."; "What would you prefer — a doctor who holds your hand while you die or one who ignores you while you get better? I suppose it would particularly suck to have a doctor who ignores you while you die." Then House responses to Wilson and Cameron.
    WILSON: That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality.
    HOUSE: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain.

    CAMERON: Men should grow up.
    HOUSE: Yeah, and dogs should stop licking themselves. It's not going to happen.

    CAMERON: Brandon's not ready for surgery.
    HOUSE: OK, let's leave it a couple of weeks. He should be feeling better by then. Oh wait, which way does time go?

    Those examples don't show what made the original cast such a miracle of casting chemistry — while Laurie certainly ranked at the top of the heap in the humor department among the performers, the others didn't merely act as his straight men. The entire ensemble contributed to the comedic elements of the show as well. I think that lies behind why so many fans had such a negative reaction to Olivia Wilde's Thirteen — she just wasn't funny. Peter Jacobson's Taub and Kal Penn's Kutner were funny. Charlyne Yi's Park garnered laughs from the moment she joined the show. Even Odette Annable's (what was her name again?) Adams had her moments. Anne Dudek's Amber — I don't think I have to elaborate on her comic gifts whether her character had a pulse or afterward. Returning to Bryan Singer for a moment, at least his sense of humor extends to himself. The Usual Suspects, the film that first gained Singer attention as a director, was an incredibly overrated film as far as I was concerned. Apparently House agreed, at least in the fifth season episode "Joy to the World" written by Peter Blake, who co-wrote the series finale with Shore and Eli Attie. "Why don't you hang out in the video store and tell everyone Kevin Spacey's Keyser Söze? And by the way, that ending really made no sense at all." While the show's ability to make me laugh definitely drew me in during my time of need, by no means am I trying to slight the emotional impact that it routinely delivered as well. The series portrayed all its characters as fallible — cumulatively almost as much as House himself. Though House almost always solved the puzzle, that didn't mean he'd always save the patient.

    The fourth episode of Season 1, "Maternity," turned out to be one of the most serious episodes as House noticed first a mystery infection sickening all the newborn babies. The episode, the first Peter Blake wrote for the series, did allow time for some levity, mostly involving a ditzy clinic patient named Jill (Hedy Burress) who can't believe she's pregnant because she had an implanted birth control device. Even worse, she also cheated on her husband Charlie. House advises that she just tell Charlie (Dwight Armstrong) that the baby belongs to him, but she drags Charlie in during the crisis for a "mono" test so House can check paternity. When everything turns out well, Jill asks House to handle all her prenatal care and delivery, which he naturally refuses. Jill tells him she feels as if she owes him a present of some kind. "Sometimes the best gift is the gift of never seeing you again," House replies. The bulk of the episode though concerned the serious storyline and House stayed focused and serious as he fought with administrators over what they should try to solve the puzzle. We gained more insight into Cameron's character. Wilson dropped one laugh line as he saw House examine a sick baby and said, "I'm still amazed you're actually in the same room with a patient." "People don't bug me until they get teeth," House replies. Early on in the crisis, he blames his entire profession for creating the environment that allows something like this to happen. "This is our fault. Doctors over-prescribing antibiotics. Got a cold? Take some penicillin. Sniffles? No problem. Have some azithromycin. Is that not working anymore? Oh, got your Levaquin. Antibacterial soaps in every bathroom. We'll be adding vancomycin to the water supply soon. We bred these superbugs. They're our babies. And they're all grown up and they've got body piercings and a lot of anger." "Maternity" marked the series' arrival as a polished product — and as compelling and great as this episode is, it didn't come close to making my cut for my 10 favorite episodes, which will come at the end of the concluding post.

    Continue reading at "My standards of fun are not the norm"

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    "My standards of fun are not the norm."

    Continued from Paging Dr. House!

    I thought I'd drop a few final thoughts that I failed to fit in the main tribute post before I actually listed my 10 favorite episodes, which turned out to be a bear of an assignment — first narrowing the list to 10, then trying to determine rankings. Even in the later, weaker seasons, the show still managed to come up with some winners or — if nothing else — moments and lines that made you feel that your time wasn't completely wasted. I almost could do a list of favorite lines. When I attempted to prune the list, some episodes stayed in the running longer than they otherwise would have simply by virtue of priceless moments. For example, I toyed with including the Season 2 episode "Safe," a good episode about a teen (Michelle Trachtenberg) who had a heart transplant six months earlier, but has been driven nuts by her overprotective mom (Mel Harris) who keeps her in a clean room at home. When her boyfriend sneaks in for some sex, before they even kiss he notices something on he arm and she appears to go into anaphylactic shock. Eventually, she gets worse and gets sent to Princeton-Plainsboro where one theory after another fails and she begins to become paralyzed. House becomes convinced that the boyfriend brought a tick in with him and the bug caused the infection that's paralyzing her, but no one can find it, so Cuddy hslts the search. Wilson says they must get her to ICU. Foreman wheels her into an elevator, though House blocks Cuddy's entrance with his cane. Foreman gives her an injection to buy House three more minutes of tick searching and he locates the nasty bug in her pubic hair — leading to the priceless moment where the elevator doors open and her parents and Cuddy witness House's head rising from between the girl's legs. They obviously think the worst until he shows them the tick. One of my favorite moments, but just not enough for the favorite list. It helps explain why I think Season 2 easily wins the title as the best overall season. The show's most memorable moments could break your heart as well. It didn't make my list either but as far as touching installments go, Season 4's "97 Seconds" about the paraplegic man (Brian Klugman) and his extremely faithful service dog, an English shepherd named Hoover, gets me every time.

    House nearly hit a home run with each of the 24 episodes produced for its second season. I easily could have filled all 10 spots on my favorite list from this season alone, but in an attempt to spread the wealth I succeeded in limiting Season 2 episodes on the list to a total of three. That means, in addition to "Safe," I couldn't make room for other great ones such as "The Mistake," where House and Chase face a disciplinary board hearing over a patient's death because Chase got distracted by news of his father's death; "Deception" with guest star Cynthia Nixon as a mentally unstable woman with a difficult-to diagnose ailment that, with Foreman temporarily in charge of the diagnostics department, leads both House and Cameron to play sneaky games to try to prove their diagnoses; "Sex Kills" (another one that came very close to making the final list) with guest star Howard Hesseman as a man in desperate need of a heart transplant but deemed "too old" by the transplant committee to be approved for the procedure, prompting House to go on a scavenger hunt for a freshly dead body that wouldn't be deemed suitable for transplant. When they find a somewhat overweight woman declared brain dead after a car wreck but suffers from another ailment, House vows to cure her so her heart would be safe for transplant. "We're going to cure death?" Cameron asks incredulously. House cackles like a mad scientist before answering normally, "Doubt it." The storyline perfectly blends the pathos of the man who just lost his wife and a daughter worried that her father will die with humorous elements stemming from both storylines that end up running on parallel tracks. On top of that, the episode tosses in one of the funniest clinic episodes with a young man (Adam Busch) who seeks help because he claims he's fallen in love with a cow, though that isn't his whole story. "So I have to wonder what could be more humiliating then someone calling your girlfriend a cow and not being metaphorical?" House asks him. "Sex Kills" would have made a Top 20; Season 2 also includes "Clueless," which I referred to in the first half of the tribute, about the husband with the devoted wife who grows sicker and sicker and that House figures out she's been poisoning him with gold; "All In," where a sick boy shows all the signs of a case that has haunted House for years because of his inability to solve it while he's simultaneously coaching Wilson by phone in a hospital Texas Hold 'Em benefit; "Forever," the tragic tale of a sick woman and her young baby; and "No Reason" where guest star Elias Koteas, the husband of one of House's former patient's, walks into the conference room and shoots him prompting an episode that mixes dreams and reality as they work to save House.

    Another aspect of House that worked incredibly well lay in its ability to attract talented and well-known performers to play all levels of parts, whether it be recurring roles such as Sela Ward as Stacy, House's ex-girlfriend and Princeton-Plainsboro's main lawyer whose arc lasted throughout Season 1 and most of Season 2; Chi McBride as Edward Vogler, the billionaire pharmaceutical magnste who becomes chairman of the board of the teaching hospital with promises of a blank check for research only to spend most of his time trying to get rid of House instead; Michael Weston as Lucas Douglas, who starts out as House's goofy private eye and pseudo-friend before he becomes Cuddy's unlikely boyfriend; and David Morse as Michael Tritter, the wrong guy for House to treat the way he usually treats clinic patients as he turns out to be a cop. That incident launches the third season storyline of Tritter pursuing House on drug charges — Tritter acting as Javert to House's Jean Valjean. Tritter even puts the financial and professional squeeze on Wilson and others in an attempt to force them to cooperate and turn against House. In other cases, Oscar nominees (past and future) and even a couple of winners popped up as patients of the week including Shohreh Aghdashloo, Candice Bergen (though as Cuddy's mom she appeared twice when she wasn't a patient), Joel Grey, Taraji P. Henson, Amy Irving, James Earl Jones, Michael O'Keefe, Kathleen Quinlan, Jeremy Renner, Mira Sorvino and David Strathairn. Sometimes, familiar faces would turn up as mere clinic patients such as Peter Graves, Shirley Knight and Carl Reiner. Those names just scratch the surface because — let's be honest — unless you were a super medical diagnostician yourself, most of the terms that House and his team bandied about came off as gobbledy gook. In actuality, each week's case merely served as the episode's MacGuffin and that's why that part of the show grew tiresome the fastest. The same thing that made the regulars stand out and brought us back each week happened to be the trait in the most interesting cases: Less the illness than the characters who suffered from them. If the patient bored us, so did the case. However, even a late episode such as Season 5's "The Social Contract" can score on that level when Jay Karnes (Dutch from The Shield) played Nick Greenwald, a book editor who suddenly loses the ability to prevent himself from saying whatever comes into his mind.


    10. HOUSE VS. GOD (Season 2, Episode 19)

    Perhaps I've conditioned my memory to remember it this way, but I believe "House Vs. God" was the first House episode I watched while stuck in the hospital. It proved to be a damn good way to start. Pitting the doctor, whom I would soon discover, served as the most outspoken atheist on primetime television against an ill teenage faith healer named Boyd (Thomas Dekker) made for a natural clash in the teleplay by Doris Egan. To its credit, the show didn't take the easy way out and make Boyd and his father Walter (William Katt) obvious frauds. It also threw in a subplot involving Wilson trying desperately to get in on one of House's home poker games, which leads to the revelation that the good oncologist has been dating one of his cancer patients (Tamara Braun), who becomes involved with Boyd's story. The episode offers a bounty of memorable House lines. I can't recall if the YouTube clip includes either of these two: "You talk to God, you're religious. God talks to you, you're psychotic" or "Isn't it interesting…religious behavior is so close to being crazy that we can't tell them apart." Then, comes the inevitable first meeting between House and Boyd. "So, you're a faith healer. Or is that a pejorative? Do you prefer something like 'divine health management'?" House asks. Of course, it inevitably leads to dialogue between House and his colleagues (Chase, not a murderer at this point, briefly attended seminary, so it's his idea to keep score on case developments on the board).
    CHASE: You're gonna talk to a patient?
    HOUSE: God talks to him. It'd be arrogant of me to assume that I'm better than God.

    WILSON: And that's why religious belief annoys you. Because if the universe operates by abstract rules you can learn them, you can protect yourself. If a Supreme Being exists, he can squash you any time he wants.
    HOUSE: He knows where I am.

    Robert Sean Leonard gets to wrap the show with a great delivery of Wilson's final line, sighing, "House, you are…as God made you."

    9. SON OF COMA GUY (Season 3, Episode 7)

    If I had to present a legal case proving my assertion that the actors who portrayed the patients of the week were more important to the strength of House than the medical mysteries were, I'd submit John Larroquette and this episode as Exhibit A. Actually, Larroquette's character, Gabe Wozniak, wasn't the patient of the week. The real case involves his son Kyle (Zeb Newman). The episode plays off the running gag that House, to hide out from everyone, tends to have lunch in rooms with coma patients. This time, he throws Wilson — hunting for him after being upset by a visit from Tritter (David Morse) — a curve because he's eating in Gabe's room — and technically he's in a vegetative state, one he's resided in for 10 years. When the team gets stumped for answers about what's causing Kyle's seizures and other problems and Kyle can't provide much in the way of family history, House defies Cuddy's orders and pulls the Awakenings trick of a shot of L-dopa and wakes Gabe up, who sits straight up in bed, longing for a steak. The problem is that Gabe doesn't seem terribly interested in his son's plight, so House makes a deal that takes Gabe, himself and Wilson to Atlantic City in search of a sandwich that Gabe loved and the elder Wozniak agrees to answer one question in exchange for every question that House answers to him. Occasionally, we get cuts back to Princeton-Plainsboro for updates on Kyle, but the trio of Larroquette, Laurie and Leonard make this episode, written by Doris Egan, a true standout. As you'd expect, lots of jokes stem from 10 years of unconsciousness such as when Gabe picks up an iPod and asks, "What's this? It says 'ip od.'" It even manages to wrap up with touching moments that involve not only the episode's storyline, but House and Wilson's relationship as well. The episode also contains many movie references, not just to Awakenings but to The Silence of the Lambs and Sleeper as well.

    8. WILSON (Season 6, Episode 9)

    The most recent episode to make the top 10 lands here simply for giving Robert Sean Leonard an episode that truly focuses on Wilson in a way that no other installment had done before. (For the same reason, the similarly Cuddy-centric "5 to 9" from Season 6 almost made the cut as well.) Written by David Foster and directed by the great Lesli Linka Glatter whose résumé includes standout episodes of other great shows such as Mad Men ("Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency"), Freaks and Geeks ("Kim Kelly Is My Friend," "Boyfriends and Girlfriends") and several episodes of Twin Peaks. "Wilson" tells the story of a former patient, Tucker (Joshua Malina), who developed a friendship with Wilson and takes his former oncologist on an outing each year on the anniversary of being cancer-free. House declares Tucker "a self-important jerk." Wilson insists he's his friend and House forcefully reiterates his description. "Seems to be what I'm attracted to," Wilson replies. While Tucker and Wilson (whom Tucker calls "Jimmy") try hunting, Tucker mysteriously collapses and ends up in Princeton-Plainsboro again. Wilson learns that Tucker left his wife for a younger woman when he mistakes the girlfriend for Tucker's daughter. Wilson experiences what he believes to be a "House" moment when he notices that the girlfriend has a cold sore and diagnoses transverse myelitis. House, barely passing by, tells Wilson it's cancer. Meanwhile, Cuddy asks Wilson if it's OK to call his ex-wife Bonnie about a condo that she and Lucas want to move into together. Wilson calls her on it, saying she's Bonnie's friend and only asked him to test House's reaction. As for Tucker, Wilson's diagnosis wasn't right and, indeed, it was cancer, causing him to try to act more like House, doing a double shot of chemo. House warns him that he can't handle it if it goes wrong the way he could, but Wilson tries anyway and it ends up degrading Tucker's liver to the point he needs an immediate transplant. Tucker, already confirming House's original diagnosis that he's a self-important jerk by bringing his wife and daughter back in his time of need because the young girlfriend can't deal with it, starts blaming Wilson and suggests he donate part of his liver. Even Cuddy tells Wilson he's crazy when he informs her that he plans to do it. "You're a doctor, not a donor," she reminds him. The most touching moment comes when Wilson asks House to be present at the operation and House says no. "What? Why?" Wilson asks. "Because if you die, I'm alone," House replies. In the end, when Tucker turns out OK, he again dumps his wife and brings back the young girlfriend. Wilson finally corrects him when he again calls him Jimmy. "It's James." Then, in the best payoff, Wilson steals the condo out from under Cuddy as a new place for he and House to live. "She hurt my friend. She should be punished," Wilson tells him. "You got mad? I'm proud of you," House says. As the finale showed, the real love story of House occurred between those two men, even if it wasn't sexual.

    7. BROKEN (Season 6, Episode 1)

    The most distinctive episode of House in the show's history. They attempted to replicate it with Season 8's "Twenty Vicodin" set entirely with House in prison, but that didn't come close to approaching what the writers, actors and director accomplished here. After House agreed that his hallucinations of Amber might signal a need for a serious time out, he agreed to check himself to the Mayfield Mental Hospital to attempt to free himself of his addiction and his demons. The two-hour season premiere written by Russel Friend, Garret Lerner, David Foster and David Shore, truly allowed Hugh Laurie to shine. While House went willingly, once admitted, his usual desire to be pulling the strings couldn't be stopped right away as he sought to leave almost as soon as he arrived. It wasn't quite that easy if he ever wanted to practice medicine again, explained the hospital's chief psychiatrist, Dr. Darryl Nolan, our first introduction to the character played by the always welcome Andre Braugher. If he didn't sign off, House wouldn't get his license back. The episode, directed by Katie Jacobs, not only placed House in a different setting, but with an entirely different cast of characters, save for one brief phone conversation with Wilson. In addition to Dr. Nolan, he formed a begrudging and unlikely kinship with his hyperactive roommate Alvie, played by Tony Award-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (as House tells Alvie, "You're my only friend. And I hate you.") and an attraction to a secretive woman named Lydia (Franka Potente, who first caught attention as the title character in Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run.) The episode really comes alive when it's Laurie and Braugher going at it one-on-one. "Seriously, is that your strategy? Give everybody what they want, except me?" House asks the psychiatrist. "You're a natural leader. You could something useful down here…for them…definitely for you. Or you could keep fighting. If you think you could break me. If you think I'm not every bit as stubborn as you," Nolan responds. It made for quite an interesting start to the sixth season where House made a true attempt at changing his ways, but somewhere it just sort of got lost, which is a shame.

    6. HOUSE DIVIDED (Season 5, Episode 22)

    The best of the episodes dealing with House's hallucinations in that the teleplay by Matthew V. Lewis & Liz Friedman manages to blend deftly the humor and seriousness of the situation as House realizes that his imaginary Amber (Anne Dudek, wonderful again) has a side that's more malevolent than the real Amber. Running concurrently, the patient of the week, a deaf high school wrestler, makes a good candidate for a cochlear implant but he'd prefer to stay deaf. "My Patient is opting into a handicap; he's an insult to every other gimp out there," House complains. "I'll blind him too, if he wants to experience that culture." Meanwhile, Chase and Cameron's wedding approaches and Wilson tries to warn Chase not to let House throw him a bachelor party. "The main reason my third wife and I eloped was to avoid House's bachelor party… Have you seen Caligula?" Wilson asks Chase as House approaches, inquiring if Wilson is trying to scare him away from the party. "I took an oath to do no harm," Wilson declares, adding that he won't be attending. "Uh, I'm not going to the bachelor party. Every time I go to one of your parties, I end up embarrassing myself in some new and unexpected way," Wilson insists. House begs to differ. "The thing with the duck was hardly unexpected." After he gives Chase a long speech about how his marriage won't truly mean something without wanton depravity the night before, Chase agrees to go, though he doesn't know that Cameron will be crazy about the idea — so he asks House to make it look as if he's been kidnapped. Imaginary Amber keeps toying with House, trying to get him to remember the name of a stripper from Wilson's party. "Why go back to that well? In the nine years since Wilson's party, a whole new generation of hot girls have been abused by their stepfathers," House tells his hallucination, who also gets him to implant the cochlear implant in the high school wrestler without his permission. He expects Wilson to chastise him, but he sees it as a kind act. However, when Wilson arrives home to finds all his furniture in the yard and the bachelor party being held in his apartment, that doesn't please him as much. Imaginary Amber finally got the name of the stripper dislodged from House's mind, so he hired her for the party and Chase opted to taste her body butter, only she uses strawberry to which Chase is allergic, sending him into anaphylactic shock. They rush Chase to the hospital where they've received word that the wrestler has taken a turn for the worse as well. "I knew about her body butter, and his strawberry allergy. I tried to kill Chase. Why would I do that? I don't want Cameron," House says to Amber. "You're not a big fan of other people's happiness," Amber replies. After he ignores whatever she says to him, he manages to save the wrestler. He then admits to Cuddy that he hasn't slept since Kutner's suicide. That night, he goes home and actually sleeps the whole night. When he wakes the next morning, he thinks he's conquered the hallucinations but when he rolls over, Amber lies next to him grinning.

    To be continued in Finishing the House

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