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House: 514 ½ - Unfaithful

House Episode 5-14 ½ - "Unfaithful"

- late add -

Much to my surprise, I have recently discovered that what I watched on Monday, February 9 was not, in fact, the new House episode, but a pre-empting Presidential press conference. Nevertheless, I'll let this review stand as a record of the same.

See the next blog entry for an actual review of House, Ep 515, "Unfaithful"

Airdate: Monday February 9, 2009

Act 1

Imagine my surprise when I turned on the TV for this week's "House" only to find that Bad Hat Productions has apparently taken the occasion of the hundred and first "House" episode to engineer a radical shift in format and story content of the show. Accordingly, I must abandon my usual review format to properly critique the new, radically changed "House".

This was a Foreman-centric episode. In fact, there was almost no appearance of any character except Foreman, and I must say the costuming and make-up departments seem to have taken just as radical a new direction as the writing and directing. I hardly recognized Omar Epps.

The script completely abandons the hook-and-six-acts format and consisted of one long monologue by the featured actor. Apparently there is a fiscal crisis at Patterson Plains Teaching Hospital and Foreman has appointed himself a one-man crew to solve the problem.

As the episode begins, another change presents itself. The show is being performed sans scenery, props, and costume in a sort of theater-in-the-round. Epps is dressed in a simple dark suit with red tie and American flag lapel pin. Gadzooks, the makeup department has even given him HAIR, albeit closely cropped and with a tinge of gray. He looks very distinguished.

I was so taken aback at Epps' radical change in appearance that I missed his first few words. To tell the truth, I think I may have missed something important, because while he speaks clearly and with precision, I'm sort of missing a narrative thread to tie it all together. Accordingly, I'll just try to hit what seemed to be some of the high spots.

He talks a lot about people losing their jobs and some sort of crisis. Has Cuddy begun firing people? Did she start with the diagnostic staff? Is Foreman all that's left? There's something in there about trying to create more jobs building roads and bridges and hiring more teachers and firefighters and police. Lord know, PPTH is a teaching hospital, so they can always use more of those, and certainly the security staff needs bolstering, what with the odd gunman frequently wandering in and terrifying doctors and staff, but fire fighters? Maybe that's a reference to Dr. Kutner setting the occasional patient on fire. I'm not sure where the roads and bridges come in, unless Patterson-Plains is planning a major expansion. And indeed, maybe they are, because Foreman mentions four million jobs to be saved or created. Now, really. I know health care is one of the few professions with a positive hiring outlook, but four million? I think Foreman is over-reaching. Surely northern New Jersey would have trouble providing more than a million trained professionals, at most.

Now there's another radical shift in the format. Barely ten minutes into his soliloquy, Foreman takes questions from his audience. He's doing improv!

For the next forty minutes, Foreman holds his audience captive as he improvises answers to the audience's questions. I still can't quite grasp a narrative thread, I'm not sure what this episode's supposed to be about, but his technique is flawless.

The questioners keep calling Foreman "Mr. Resident", and I'm confused, because I thought Foreman had finished his residency long ago.

There's a question about "bipartisanship". Is that an obscure Hadley reference? I must say one of the more refreshing things about this episode has been the complete absence of Hadley and the Huntington's subplot, which seemed to have totally dominated the early part of this season. Whatever this bipartisanship stuff is, Foreman seems to be for it.

Foreman keeps talking about Elk-heart? Is this some new cardio disease? Whatever, Foreman seems to have a lot of compassion for the Elk-heart people.

Another question brings up a discussion of "pork". Foreman is against it. Has there been an outbreak of trichinosis in New Jersey?

Another questioner leads us into a discussion of health care - aha, some real doctor stuff! Foreman says that the health care around here has been insufficient (well, didn't we all know that?), expensive, and there's something about nurses not be able to read doctor's handwriting (ditto) and the need for electronic medical records and more science labs. (Well, if House would stop breaking the MRIs...)

Then there's something about how to judge his plans. Something there about normalizing credit. Does this refer to the continued lack of "starring" credit for the new three? Long overdue, I'd say. Also something about stabilizing Housing? I won't quibble about his tenses (this is improv, after all) and we've all known that House needed stabilizing, but if Cuddy and Cameron were both unable to do so, what makes Foreman think he can succeed? Then he says something about "more effective coordination" (say, the "Lost" folks could use some of that.) Also he frankly admits that "Not everything we do is going to work out." Give it the old college try, anyway, Eric!

We get about another medical question, this time about steroid use in baseball. Foreman is against it, and thinks it's a crying shame, and so do I.

He ends up with a plea for civility and rational argument. As the program closes, I realize I've been held spellbound for an hour without a commercial break.

All in all, I'm not really sure that I can endorse this new format. It makes story-telling very difficult to follow. I'm still not sure that the theme of this story was, or even who the patient was (I do believe I might have heard the name "America" though.)

Nevertheless, I can heartily praise Omar Epps's performance. He gave a very credible presentation as a strong, intelligent leader doing his best to cope with serious problems to the best of his capability, radiating confidence in the future, the sort of doctor anyone would be proud to call his own.

- Cecil

One last question for all my friends on the Lost blog, where I served as guest reviewer two weeks ago - can anyone tell me why they titled this episode "Unfaithful"?

Next Week:
House threatens to tear the team apart. (Apparently giving Foreman and Hadley an ultimatum to break up or one must quit.) A priest that has no faith has deadly symptoms that have no cause.
Last Episode: 02/02/09 5-14 The Greater Good
Next Episode: 02/16/09 5-15 Unfaithful

Cast and Crew Ep. 5-14 ½ , "Unfaithful" Aired 02/09/2009

Cast and Crew

Director:... Unknown
Writer:...... Unknown

Omar Epps...................Dr. Eric Foreman


Hail to the Chief........Albert Gamse, lyrics - James Sanderson - tune

Posted by Cecil on February 10, 2009 12:53 AM
Permalink |


-- 1. Posted by: AN at February 10, 2009 1:59 AM

Hey Cecil,

Yahoo has an article on why "House is on Life Support". I'm guessing they think that title's pretty clever.

I think they might need a little straightening out, perhaps a Cecil-sized gluteus-whuppin'.

-- 2. Posted by: ransomjackson at February 10, 2009 2:25 PM

I have to say I sort of agree with several of their points. Especially "8. They Got Rid of Lucas".

I had great hopes for the Lucas character and was hoping they'd keep him around to take the place of the still-too-vulnerable Wilson.

And I agree (as you might notice in the satire above) that the 13/Hadley storyline has become far too dominant this season.

It's not that I'm dissapointed in "House", exactly, it's just that the direction being established is not as entertaining as other directions I could have wished they had taken.

The Hadley/Huntington's arc can't end anywhere but badly if they're being realistic. House has always been a drama - meaning life WILL hang in the balance - but it has always had a mad flair of energy from the personality of the main protagonist and his ability to puncture puffed-up egos.

For those who would like to see the Yahoo article themselves, click on my name below to go there. (ransomjackson, I'm assuming this is the one you mean - if not correct me.)

-- 3. Posted by: Cecil at February 10, 2009 3:15 PM

Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH)?

Very funny mocktique! ;)

-- 4. Posted by: FenwayBen at February 17, 2009 9:28 PM

It's Patterson-Plains Teaching Hospital. I believe.

-- 5. Posted by: Cecil Rose at February 18, 2009 9:37 AM

That is to say,

Patterson-PlainsBORO Teaching Hospital.

-- 6. Posted by: Cecil Rose at February 18, 2009 6:29 PM

According to it's Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital

-- 7. Posted by: FenwayBen at February 21, 2009 12:33 AM

Oops. Thought I'd remembered that right. Thanks.

-- 8. Posted by: Cecil at February 21, 2009 2:37 PM

No problem. It makes sense that a hospital of this nature would be attached to a prestigious university, and since Princeton doesn't have one in RL it is a perfect fit.

-- 9. Posted by: FenwayBen at February 21, 2009 6:42 PM

Links to direct download House 5x15 “Unfaithful”

-- 10. Posted by: Beltegeuse at February 23, 2009 10:54 AM

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