House, “Larger Than Life”

My goodness, it’s been a long time since the last episode of House. Since a bit before Thanksgiving, actually. Throw in the usual breaks that come with the World Series and we’re still only nine episodes into this season, including tonight’s “Larger Than Life.” Even though I am enjoying this season for what it is, it’s not as if there were any dangling threads or important business matters to attend to that kept me on my hands and knees waiting for House to return. And yet, there I was, finding myself laughing at House’s antics and feeling just a smidgen sorry for Taub by the time “Larger Than Life” ended. Or maybe I was laughing at Taub and feeling sorry for House. In any event.

Here’s the thing, and I’ve said this all season: I more or less like House and Cuddy together, even if I don’t really buy it. A lot of the time, it feels a bit like fan fiction come alive, but after a few middling seasons, I especially see why David Shore and company “went there.” And more importantly, I can at least give them credit for making an effort with Huddy. In the past, their relationship would have lasted three episodes before the writers got bored and decided to mix it up with some shocking revelation just because they were bored. So there are a few things to like with the relationship, despite its obvious flaws.

In line with that suggestion is tonight’s half-cooked story with Cuddy’s mother, played by Candice Bergen. The Murphy Brown star’s casting was talked a lot about this fall as some sort of big get, but unfortunately, Bergen is used about as well as any high-profile guest star in the last three or four years of House (with the exception of Andre Braugher). She shows up, looks down upon House and Cuddy, generally acts like a rote shrill mother character from a hundred other programs and then gets hilariously drugged by House. This is barely a story and doesn’t really hold together in the execution, but there’s something slightly admirable in the writers’ attempts to continue to point out that both House and Cuddy are messed up people that come from fairly messed up lineages.

And of course, any time an awkward dinner sequences is buttoned off with House drugging Cuddy’s mother and then also drugging Wilson while Cuddy more or less approves, I can’t complain too much. Of course this is cartoonish and certainly a pinch childish on House’s part because he still refuses to face major adult obstacles like well, an adult, but I don’t really care. It was funny and again sort of hammers home that both of these people are totally screwed up in the head. I’d rather the writers go too far with the wonky gags and bits to convince me House and Cuddy belong together than they just present them as a healthy, normal couple. At least the writers are being honest with themselves and partially honest with their characters.

Fortunately, there’s a less goofy runner in this episode that presents a more believable House action: The desire to be alone. It seems that with both Cuddy (and presumably her baby) and Wilson (totally forgot about that break-up!), House doesn’t have much time to be alone anymore. Therefore, he’s been making and breaking plans with both so he can just hang out by himself, in his underwear, watching The Real Housewives. Some might see this as a step back for House, but at least it’s realistic. He’s certainly come a long way in his relationship with Cuddy, but everything won’t change overnight and I appreciate that the writers took the time to bring that up.

As for the rest of the team, well, they’re still all miserable. Well, probably not Chase because he’s getting laid a lot, but you know how the people at Princeton-Plainsboro operate. For whatever reason, the series continues to present us with Taub’s personal life. He doesn’t know why he’s with his wife, she doesn’t know why she’s with him, no one at work understands and it seems like the audience is just as confused. Basically, this storyline has been dragging along for three years with an obvious conclusion and yet, we haven’t gotten there. After Taub gets his face on billboards in some hospital promotional campaign, his wife gets turned on. But gosh darnit, Taub just can’t trust it! You know, because the storyline dictates that Taub always be miserable.

Thankfully, in the end, Taub makes the decision he or his wife should have made three years ago: divorce. Our long national nightmare is over.

It’s nice to have House back, I think. We’ve left one terrible storyline behind and continue towards some middling disasters with House and Cuddy. I’m game.

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