The Husband:

The Office 5.20 “Dream Team”

The Office has taken some very interesting roads this season, and now it’s finally time for the show to live with its choices. Whether or not you think Michael is smart or being a complete fool in starting up a competing paper company – named, of course, the Michael Scott Paper Company – you have to agree that it’s a gnarly way of shaking things up.

After walking out on Dunder Mifflin after years of being [somewhat justly] ignored, and taking Pam with him, Michael at first tries to start his new paper company from within the confines of his own condo, but Pam is so worried that she creates a to-do list for him for the day which includes finding an actual office where you have to wear more than a robe and a pair of Crocs.

“I have egg in my Crocs!” – Michael

And what’s their second stop? Why, roping in the poor, fired Ryan into the Michael Scott Paper Company. Haven fallen on very hard times after losing his corporate job at DM thanks to his drug usage, he is now bleach blonde and working at the local bowling alley. But Michael’s one great trait is his ability to rally the troops, and so now Ryan is a part of the new company.

“Pam, everyone deserves a second second chance.” – Michael

Finally, they go to pick up one of Michael’s friends back when he worked as a telemarketer (one of my favorite Michael-based eps, since it showed that he can, actually, be a personable and nice fellow), and all go to visit Michael’s potential investor. Unfortunately, that happens to be his nana, and when the term “nana” is explained to the ESL telemarketer employee, he ditches the company immediately.

And so where does this ragtag group end up? Well, they find an office, all right, but it’s in the same building as Dunder Mifflin. In a closet. Oh well…

What was the other funny bit in this episode? Now that Pam’s gone, Kevin is now working the phones at Dunder Mifflin, but he can’t seem to get the hang of transferring calls. When a call comes in for Andy, the call goes to several other people until Kevin finally gets it right. And when the call finally reaches Mr. Andy Bernard, his face falls as he proclaims,

“My maid died.” – Andy

The Office 5.21 “The Michael Scott Paper Company”

A few days ago, after my wife’s review of Parks & Recreation, I put forth that any Greg Daniels show wasn’t meant to be this raucous laugh-out-loud comedy, but more comedies of cleverness and little in-jokes, meant to more elicit chuckles and thought than the guffaws one would get from 30 Rock or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Well, this week’s episode started off with one of those massive bouts of laughing, so hard that I had to pause my DVR. And what was it? The “new” intro to the show, which presented clips of life not from Dunder Mifflin but from the new offices (read: closet) of the Michael Scott Paper Company. My favorite? The Xerox machine labeled “Trash.”

Yes, it is indeed a terrible place to work. It’s one crowded room, Pam and Ryan are sharing a poker table as a desk, and the sewage pipes go through a corner of the room. But they have passion, yes they do! And Pam really wants to be taken seriously as a salesperson, so much so that she is unwilling to make copies for Michael, because if she does it once, then she feels it will never end, and then she’s back to being a receptionist. No matter that she actually likes doing copies (she likes how the pages come out all warm.)

On second thought, maybe I will go work in that closet . . .

On second thought, maybe I will go work in that closet . . .

Up at Dunder Mifflin, while Jim is struggling to understand what the hell Charles Minor wants when he asks Jim to make a rundown of all his clients, Dwight and Andy, once the embittered “other man” to one another in Angela’s love life, now both have eyes for DM’s new receptionist. (Her name is actually Kelly, but since Kelly Kapoor took this as an opportunity to stand outside Charles’ office and jump in whenever she heard the name “Kelly” uttered, receptionist Kelly decides to go by her middle name, Erin.) Dwight, in fact, does a surprisingly good job flirting with [Kelly] Erin at first, until Andy butts in later. This degrades into a guitar-banjo face-off of John Denver’s “(Take Me Home} Country Roads,” until they have both creeped out [Kelly] Erin to the point of her leaving.

A good double-dose of episodes last Thursday, working their way up to some good end-of-the-season events. And the title sequence in the second episode is almost enough to make me eat crow re: Greg Daniels

Okay, there was another funny bit even earlier in the episode, but it’s more of a shameless laugh.

[Michael drives up to the office building and stops in front of the camera, blasting Lady Gaga]

“It’s Britney, bitch.” – Michael

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The Husband:

I’m sorry to say it, but it hasn’t been a very good two weeks for Animation Domination. The only episode I unabashedly liked was King Of The Hill (which focused almost entirely on a verrrrry supporting character), then about half of an American Dad and a third of a Family Guy. The rest had their moments, but something just seemed to be in the water over at Fox and all the offices and buildings where they make these shows. I’ll just get last week’s KOTH out of the way, pretty much.

King Of The Hill 13.13 “Nancy Does Dallas”

When Dale’s wife Nancy breaks a silly but attention-getting newstory at Arlen’s local affiliate, Dallas takes notice and invites her to become an anchorwoman with them. And Dale couldn’t be happier, even if this means she’d be hours away for days on end making her dreams come true.

“Come on, you’re a genius at making something from nothing. You made Joseph.” – Dale to Nancy

Arriving in Dallas, Nancy notices the major strife between the male and female lead anchors Gwen and Wade, and tries to exploit this hostility as much as she can.

Gwen: I hate that man.

Nancy: I always thought you and Wade were having an affair.

Gwen: We are. It’s good for ratings.

Unfortunately, Nancy gets so in over her head with ego and douchiness that it’s rubbing everybody the wrong way, and when she drunkenly collapses off of a parade float, it’s curtains for her. This is fine, since Dale, now unsupervised, is wreaking his own special havoc on Arlen, resulting in him nearly setting his own house on fire. But when Nancy finally returns, it becomes clear to their neighbors that while Nancy does a good job at keeping Dale on a tight leash, he has his own power over Nancy, her drinking and her ego.

This episode also had the best quotes of all seven episodes I collected for this write-up. Here are some of the ones I jotted down:

  • “Breakfast race!” – Dale and Joseph
  • “That wasn’t even a story. It was just a bunch of ‘ifs.'” – Hank
  • “Nancy, your prison fan mail is about to quadruple!” – Dale
  • “Security breach! Joseph, sniff the bags.” – Bobby
  • “Dale, you giblet-head!” – Hank
  • “It sure is great that you’re home, and not just for fire-retardant purposes.” – Dale to Nancy

Now onto the lesser eps, grouped via show.

The Simpsons 20.14 “In The Name Of The Grandfather”

When Homer forgets to show up at the retirement community’s father/son day, Homer learns of Abe’s very own bucket list and decide to follow up on one: to revisit Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub, where Abe had one of the best days of his entire life. Problem is, Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub is in Ireland, so the family jets out to the Emerald Isle to fulfill this wish. Unfortunately, Ireland is no longer the quaint village-driven country of yore and instead has been yuppified, including the presence of rhyming Yuprechauns. The bar, however, still exists, but it hasn’t been patronized in ages (despite having cabbage on tap). When Abe and Homer share a good drunken night with Mr. O’Flanagan, they wake up the next morning having discovered that they bought the pub while intoxicated, so to keep business up they allow the now-illegal practice of smoking inside bars, attracting all those patrons who feel cheated by the recent law.

I’ve spent some time in Ireland (three times to be exact), and there was definitely a noticeable difference in spirit between my second and third time visiting wherein the law was passed. I do not smoke, and I do not appreciate it as a lifestyle choice, but I just always associated Ireland with smokey bars, and something just felt off.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

In a bar once I met this guy Dewey. And he bought me, like, 14 beers. And he told me that he was from Ireland, so I lived with him 10 years.

Unfortunately, the episode just kind of sputtered along, and other than the remarkably esoteric send-up of the Academy Award-winning film Once (“Stop buying pianos for my wife!”) and the amusement I had in recognizing that The Simpsons had no freakin’ clue what the Guinness factory actually looked like, it was pretty much a bust.

Some quotes:

“It’s like getting a backrub from an orgasm.” – Carl re: hot tub

“Lousy old man, making me look up at an airplane…” – Homer

“So it’s our syntax you’re criticizing!” – Irish cop

The Simpsons 20.15 “Wedding For Disaster”

What could have been a very sweet story goes awry when the show takes a page from that really bizarre Marilyn Monroe-Ginger Rogers ensemble film We’re Not Married when Reverend Lovejoy realizes that, due to some legal mumbojumbo, several of the ceremonies he blessed were always invalid. This would include Homer and Marge’s second marriage, and so the two of them decide to throw a third wedding, this time pulling out all the stops. But as Marge begins to turn into a Bridezilla, Homer begins really resenting her, to the point where he doesn’t even show up at their wedding.

Ah, but he’s actually been kidnapped and put into a Saw-like torture room, where he has to do such tasks as get to the key in the center of a hot sauce lollipop. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa track some clues, including a keychain initialed “SB,” to Sideshow Bob, who for once has nothing to do with tormenting the Simpsons. Turns out, it’s just Patty and Selma Bouvier playing a trick on Homer, but when they look on, via a security camera, Homer read aloud his written vows to Marge, they relent and let him go.

The wedding stuff was nice, but the rest was far too haphazard and/or introduced to late to be either clever or properly referential, and so it’s another mostly laughless episode.

I also wonder how many people got all the Bing Crosby jokes in regards to the Presbyterian pastor who came to town and acted as a catalyst to Lovejoy’s story. Hint: rent the best picture winner Going My Way.

Family Guy 7.10 “FOX-y Lady”

Michael Moore jokes are so 2004, and jokes about handicapped ducks are so…never. And that’s pretty much all this episode was about.

First, Lois gets hired as an investigative reporter at Fox News, and aside from a not-bad Ann Coutler slam and Brian doing a pretty piss-poor job at vocalizing the country’s true problem with the troubling network, we didn’t get much. It was interesting to find out, however, that Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh are actually both simply characters created and acted out by Fred Savage (among many other celebrities I did not write down), and thus Mr. Savage’s bizarre second run of his career (or if I counted that show Working, this may be his third career run) continues down a line of strange “underground” comedy such as this and episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, now that Lois is affiliated with Fox, Peter and Chris decide to create their own animated sitcom for the network, which becomes the poorly animated and unsubtle Handiquacks, featuring such characters as Red Heinie Monkey, Col. Tushfinger, Poopy-Face Tomato Nose and Bitch Duck. When South Park created the show-within-the-show of Terence and Philip, it was a way to hit back at the critics who called their show poorly animated and vulgar, showing them what a truly shit-animated and vulgar show looked like, and that in itself was a bold statement to make. Handiquacks is no Terence And Philip, though, so the point was completely lost amidst the dumbness.

Okay, there was one incredibly funny moment, when everybody around town is screaming, and we cut to Adam West sitting on a park bench.

“Aaaaaaaaa…I have to get all the A’s out of my body. Aaaaaaaaa…”

Family Guy 7.11 “Not All Dogs Go To Heaven”

Atheism and its relation to religion is a tough thing to deal with and even harder to turn into a proper narration, so I wasn’t surprised that FG ultimately failed to explain itself and its concept of secularism. Me, I’m baffled at how misunderstood atheism truly is. Religion does not corner the market on morality, and despite the fact that I do not believe in a god(s), that does not mean I believe in nothing. That’s nihilism. I believe in the goodness and spirit of my fellow man and have an optimism about the human race and its own concepts of morality, and I don’t need to worship somebody to get that done. I don’t need to reread a book hundreds of times to do that. But you wouldn’t know that from this episode, and so I consider its base-level understanding of the atheism-religion battle to be completely unimportant and pretty much dumb.

But as Meg and Brian go through that argument, one-third of the episode is hilarious. That would be Stewie’s story, where he gets so huffy about not being to ask Star Trek-related questions at a sci-fi convention that he teleports the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation into his bedroom and tries to continue along his own line of questions, only to realize that the entire cast is immature, silly and continues to harbor 15-year grudges against each other.

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

LeVar and I were going to pool our tickets together to get the fuzzy troll pencil topper!

(I also must point out that Gates McFadden, a.k.a. Dr. Beverly Crusher, taught a class on clowning my sister attending during her time at USC, a fact I’ll never tire of telling people.)

And this section had a great variation of visual jokes (the unknown-to-me Denise Crosby getting shot after one line) and great lines.

Stewie: Hey, did you hook up with Whoopie Goldberg on the show?

Patrick Stewart: All the time.

“Look at me! I’ve got girl boobs!” – Patrick Stewart

Too bad the Stewie-with-TNG story was so short. I would have watched a two-parter just about that situation. But nope, my wish was not fulfilled.

Some good stuff:

  • The bevy of 90s references for a show more known for its influx of 70s and 80s references. This would include name-dropped Dan Cortese as well as a short bit regarding Calvin & Hobbes.
  • “Why would he wear these?! Who would make these for him?!” – Peter after looking through the LeVar Burton TNG shades, which turned every person he saw into a KKK klansman.
  • The inexplicable live-action ending with Adam West and Rob Lowe.

American Dad 4.14 “Bar Mitzvah Shuffle”

Here’s the episode that I like half of. To be fair, I actually liked the central story quite a bit from a plotting perspective, but can admit that it wasn’t necessarily very funny. And since this is a sitcom, that’s sort of an issue with which we shouldn’t have to deal.

When Steve learns that Debbie, his chubby girlfriend, is starting to have eyes for the ridiculously egomaniacal Jewish peer Etan Cohen (voice of Seth Green), he decides to try to ruin the kid’s bar mitzvah.

“I like my women like I like my dreidels – bottom-heavy.” – Etan

(I was going to make a point as to why they decided to choose the name Etan Cohen, like the screenwriter of Tropic Thunder and Madagascar 2, who is also not to be confused with Ethan Coen of the Oscar winning Coen Brothers, but then I noticed that the real Etan is one of AD’s producers and a former writer. Just another weird in-joke, I guess, like Neil Goldman over on FG.)

It was an inside joke all along . . .

It was an inside joke all along . . .

The manner in which Steve, Roger and Snot go about to destroy the bar mitzvah, with its Ocean’s Eleven references (and pretty much any heist movie post-Rififi), was pretty ingenious, involving several switches and a nasty double-cross by Roger (who just wanted to put on a silly accent but wasn’t allowed to.) But unlike most Steve-centric episodes, there were very few great nerd references or Roger non-sequiturs, so I just can’t in good conscious give it a positive review.

American Dad 4.15 “Wife Insurance”

Despite the genius Amy Sedaris doing not one but two voices in this episode, it was another blah episode from a show I desperately love, but also desperately want it to return to its peak sometime midway through season 3. When Stan gets lost during a mission, Francine is completely devastated, until Stan returns home (thanks to a fellow spy who can get out of any predicament by seducing women with a verse of Marc Anthony’s “I Need To Know”) and devastates her in his own very special way – by telling her on Valentine’s Day that he has a back-up wife, his dentist Meg, who he lined up years earlier just in case Francine kicked the bucket. To get back at him, Francine decides to make Stan’s spy friend her back-up husband, resulting in many confused hearts and a brutal bit of hand-to-hand combat later on. (And somewhere in the middle, the handsome spy pushed Stan out of a moving plane, who survived when he landed on the World’s Biggest Falafel.

Other than some quick bits regarding the return of Steve and Rogers TV detective duo Wheels & The Legman, as well as a the reappearance of Reginald the CIA koala, not much was very funny about the ep. And once again, this is a comedy, so that’s an issue. Stan’s stories especially this week have been more desperate and bizarre than laugh-inducing. Maybe somebody should sideline him until they find a story that really works, like in s3 when he traveled to Heaven, and we learned that Jim Henson isn’t dead so much as stuck in the Phantom Zone with Kermit.

The two lines I liked from this episode, one severely tasteless, the other punny but funny:

  • “In two hours I can have a dead baby stuffed with heroin planted in your mom’s car.” – Steve
  • “My heart has a cavity that only you can fill.” – Meg the dentist

The Wife:

I’ve been saving up these House posts for a number of reasons, primarily because there’s so much awesomeness on Monday nights now that House falls by the wayside for us, so there’s no sense posting something within a few days of a new episode. I know this will greatly disappoint Mary, our friend and massive Hugh Laurie lover, but on Mondays, I’ve got Chuck, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother. I can’t even watch all five of those shows on a good day, so House gets pushed back, resulting in this clusterfuck of a post.

House aired its 100th episode with “The Greater Good,” in which a formerly brilliant cancer researcher (she’s still brilliant, just not researching the ol’ cancer anymore) falls ill during a cooking class. As she lays dying under House and his team’s care, they all wonder why she would give up cancer research – especially when she was so close to finding a cure for a certain cancer I can no longer remember – to live a selfish and self-fulfilling life. Shouldn’t she, as a doctor on the forefront of research in her field, be working towards the greater good? Meanwhile, Thirteen starts to get really sick because irresponsible asshole Foreman switched her onto the trial drug from the placebo. Bad shit goes down, like, losing her vision and developing small brain tumors. Side effects are fun, kids!

Ultimately, when the patient gets a final diagnosis of ectopic endometriosis (which she developed after some of her endometrial cells escaped into her body during her hysterectomy a few years back), everybody realizes that they probably shouldn’t do things for wholly selfish reasons, especially Foreman, who risked his girlfriend’s life because he wanted to keep her around. House and Thirteen, however, don’t get that upset at Foreman and won’t let him “torch his career” because he’ll do a lot more good for other people if he’s still a doctor, he just has to quit the clinical trial and throw out Thirteen’s study results. I get that this ending to the clinical trial mishap fits with the theme. Yes, one more doctor in the world saves the lives of however many people (and Foreman, though an idiot, is a good doctor), but it also doesn’t fairly punishing him for endangering Thirteen’s life, and the fate of that Huntington’s study. Because its TV, that study gets to continue and Tank Girl might have a chance of living for a few more years than she would have, but I think that in the real world, compromised results has a strong chance of removing that particular study from Princeton-Plainsboro altogether, and possibly put on hiatus for a long time, which isn’t helping anyone with Huntington’s.

Frankly, I wasn’t that into “The Greater Good,” especially because the two episodes that followed “Unfaithful” and “The Softer Side” were so much better (although I find the latter to be a little problematic). In “Unfaithful,” House takes a case from Cameron involving a drunken priest who hallucinated a stigmatic Christ. House takes this, hoping to prove that anyone who would put their faith in something unseen has something wrong with them, but as the case continues and the ailing priest and House have a few bedside conversations about the nature of believe and what it’s like to lose one’s faith, House starts to think that the vision of Christ has nothing to do with the rest of the symptoms which, during the priest’s stay, involve loss of gangrenous digits, blindness and numbness to pain.

Where the hell is Meryl Streep when you need her?

Where the hell is Meryl Streep when you need her?

While House has never had any faith at all in a higher power, the priest began to lose his joy in the priesthood after an accusation of molestation moved him from parish to parish, making him a black sheep amongst the members of his various flocks. Though he denies molesting the child, Taub feels he should believe the claim of the victim, especially when the team diagnoses the priest with AIDS, and sets out to find the boy the priest allegedly molested. The boy, Ryan, visits the priest on his deathbed and asks him for forgiveness, which to me says that the allegations made against the priest were false. But that’s just me. Much like Doubt, it’s a situation where you aren’t given the whole truth and should decide for yourself. (In Doubt, by the way, I’ve decided that since we know the little boy had some homosexual tendencies, Father Flynn, who joined the priesthood because he also has homosexual tendencies, merely befriended the boy, without any other ulterior motive.)

Once House rules out the hallucinations, he realizes that the priest doesn’t have AIDS at all, but Wuska-Aldridge, an auto-immune deficiency that acts a lot like AIDS, but his hereditary, non-communicable and non-life threatening.

This episode also added a third element to the theme with the organization of Cuddy’s daughter’s naming ceremony, which House refuses to attend based on the principle that anyone who doesn’t practice their religion to the letter is a hypocrite. Thus, because Cuddy doesn’t keep the Sabbath, pretending she’s more religious than she actually is by having a naming ceremony for Rachael is hypocritical. Cuddy doesn’t really want House to go, though, but Wilson fucks it all up by convincing House to at least put in an appearance. In the end, everyone attends the service but House, who stays at home, playing traditional Jewish music on his piano instead. (Know what I love? Hugh Laurie playing piano.)

And then there’s “The Softer Side,” the patient of which my husband noted is like an alternate version of last week’s Private Practice, but fast forwarded 13 years. Much like Anyanka and Sgt. Scream’s baby, the patient of the week is a 13-year-old “boy” with genetic mosaicism. “He” has both male and female DNA, but his parents chose to raise him as boy even though we learned on Private Practice that 70% of genetic mosaics end up identifying as female. Jacksons parents have lied to him for years, socializing him as a boy and pushing him to do masculine things like playing hockey and basketball, even though, like one Billy Elliot, all he’s ever really wanted to do is to dance. He collapses at one of his basketball games with pelvic pain, and his parents immediately demand that House and his team give Jackson an MRI to look for a blind uterus. Strangely, House concedes to this procedure, even though when Thirteen suggests it, Foreman (continuing the lie they established in the last episode that they had broken up) mocks her for the suggestion, because surely every single one of the kids previous doctors had thought of that.

Consenting to the MRI, as well as asking to eat his bagel before doing so, alerts Wilson that something is wrong with House. He thinks maybe Cuddy slept with him, which Cuddy denies, but when both of them go to check up on House, they find him sleeping in his office . . .  and not breathing. Foreman gives House a bitching titty twister to wake him up, and House insists that he just passed out because he took one too many Vicodan.

Shhhh! He's sleeping!

Shhhh! He's sleeping!

Jackson only gets sicker after the team takes him off his “vitamins,” which are testosterone shots, fearing the T might be causing some of his problems, so House sends Foreman and Thirteen to investigate the kid’s house for environmental factors. In his room, which has posters for So You Think You Can Dance, Godspell, Rent, A Chorus Line and The Wizard of Oz, Thirteen finds a poem that she believes is a confession of Jackson’s state of mind, potentially indicating suicide. She brings it to his parents, suggesting that he knows he’s different than other kids and may have developed some suicidal feelings because of it. She tells Jackson that his vitamins aren’t vitamins, and that he should ask his parents about them. This causes the parents to finally tell their son that he’s intersex, and Jackson gets so upset with his parents lies that he refuses to talk to them. Jackson’s mom is furious at Thirteen and wants her off Jackson’s case, but Cuddy intervenes and tells Thirteen that she has to be the person Jackson trusts now.

The bisexual doctor and the intersex boy have a nice heart-to-heart about Jackson’s feelings about his gender identity, wondering if his homosexual feelings towards a friend on his basketball team and his predilection toward dance exist simply because he was meant to be a girl. And that’s where I find this episode to be a little bit problematic. Granted, this is an hour-long show that’s barely skimming the surface of the complexities of gender identity, especially for intersex children, but Jackson’s words here and Thirteen’s lack of correction lead me to question the rigid construction of gender that seems to frame this argument. Knowing what I know about genetic mosaicism, I would argue that Jackson’s parents made the wrong choice in aggressively gendering him as male, but other than not liking basketball, Jackson doesn’t seem to exhibit any other issues with having a male gender identity. No one ever scolded him for wearing his mother’s clothing often because he didn’t do it. He doesn’t express feeling as though he should be developing breasts or otherwise show any signs of a gender identity disorder He feels male and constructs his identity as male. How much of that feeling comes from the fact that his parents aggressively gendered him as such, I don’t know, but he does seem to like being male. He just doesn’t like to play sports. And there’s nothing un-masculine about dance at all, and the fact that his parents assert otherwise just tells me that they’ve a.) never watched So You Think You Can Dance with their son and b.) they need to be punched in the face, repeatedly.

What I’m getting at here is that this entire argument constructs gender identity based on very antiquated terms, and I think Thirteen kind of points to this when she tells Jackson that she was a point guard on her basketball team. No one in their right mind would think their daughter wanted to be a man if she started playing sports, so why on earth would someone think their son wanted to be a girl if he wanted to dance? Baryshnikov gets all the bitches, that’s what I’m saying. The boy, though, is confused at this point, and who can blame him, as he wonders if he actually should have been a girl or if, perhaps, he is meant to be a gay man. (I vote gay man.)

So maybe, Jackson might be alright with the gender identity his parents chose for him, but should they have chosen at all? People have very different feelings about gender identity, and I’m really not for aggressively gendering children. I find that when children begin to socialize with other children, they pick out a gender identity for themselves and the degree to which they want to express that. I have a friend with a two-year-old daughter. My friend tried really hard not to engender her child in anyway, but this little girl, at only two, has expressed a great interest in wearing dresses and trying on mommy’s make-up and dance clothes. Without even encouraging her to do so, her daughter has begun to express a very feminine version of a female gender identity. This example points to the fact that society – the images about our gender that we receive from our peers and from the culture at large – will gender us unconsciously, so that even if we are not aggressively gendered by our parents, we may still choose to exhibit a more normalized gender identity. Of course, we may not. But isn’t it better to let a child choose than to saddle them with something they might not feel suits them, forcing a child to be like Tireseas, first one thing and then the other?

Just . . . I dunno . . . read Middlesex. It’s great. It won the Pulitzer. And it’s far more eloquent about these thoughts than I am, as well as a far better examination of an intersex individual than this episode of House does.

Private Practice-style lesson: You can't lie to your kid about giving him testosterone injections.

Private Practice-style lesson: You can't lie to your kid about giving him testosterone injections.

Back to House, the strangely complacent doctor begins to do more strange things, and now both Wilson and Foreman suspect him of being on heroin, so Wilson invites House to dinner and offers him a shot, knowing full well that if House drinks it, he could stop breathing again. House knows what Wilson’s up to, and defiantly takes the shot and walks out, only to vomit in the parking lot and bark at Wilson for knowingly nearly killing him. Wilson rails at his friend for being on heroin, and House admits that he’s actually on prescription methadone, which makes him feel no pain at all, but could kill him at any moment. Cuddy refuses to let House practice at her hospital under methadone, so he quits, choosing a pain-free existence over his job, only to return when Cuddy agrees to let him come back as long as she can supervise his methadone use.

When he does, he realizes that Jackson is sick because of the MRI contrast dye, which never got filtered out of his system when they took him off his T (something Thirteen figured out in his absence, after another fight with the boy’s mother when she realized his “suicide poem” was just a classroom assignment to write in the style of Sylvia Plath – what the fuck kind of English teacher assigns Plath to 8th graders?). When he first came into House’s care, he was just dehydrated, but House’s allowance of the MRI only made Jackson worse because he kindly gave in to the requests of Jackson’s family. Realizing that being pain-free clouds his judgment, House refuses to accept methadone treatment and returns to being the curmudgeonly Vicodin addict we’ve come to know and love, an end to the softer side of House.

I really liked “The Softer Side,” but I really dislike the implication that exhibiting a female gender identity is somehow soft.

The Husband:

Just as with the end of s2 – at least, I think it was s2 when House started feeling no pain and started skateboarding – I wish that Dr. Gregory House hadn’t been so willing to drop the methadone and go back onto the Vicodin, continuing to live in pain but being a “better doctor.” It was an interesting examination of his personality, and I could have used at least three more episodes on this subject. It’s what made the last episode so great – me, the one who hasn’t really been into any of the personal stories this season, thinks this to be so – and gave me the second episode in a row to actually captivate me and not just spark a small amount of medical curiosity.

But man, did I like “Unfaithful” like crazy. Not only was the priest played by the always-cast-as-a-creep Jimmi Simpson (Liam McPoyle on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia), who I think is pretty underrated as an actor, but I was actually invested in the mystery for once, eager to reach the conclusion of the episode just to know what the hell was going on with his disease and his past. Yes, it was like Doubt 2.0, and I was itching for some answers. The fact that we didn’t get all of them is fine, because for once the P.O.W. was a fully fleshed character and not just a pin cushion with a mouth and an attitude problem.

The Husband:

After a less-than-stellar third season – one that most viewers blamed on the existence of Danny DeVito finally becoming a full-time cast member on the show and not just a guest, while I chalk it up to lazy writing – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia came into the fourth season with guns a-blazin’ and may have created their best season yet.

Finally, they figured out the secret to the success of their greatest episodes strewn throughout the first three seasons.

My favorite pre-s4 episodes, by the way, are as follows:

  • “Charlie Wants An Abortion”
  • “Charlie Got Molested”
  • “Dennis And Dee Go On Welfare”
  • “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom”
  • “The Gang Gives Back”
  • “The Gang Finds A Dumpster Baby”
  • “Sweet Dee’s Dating A Retarded Person”
  • “The Gang Dances Their Asses Off”

If you are familiar with the show, you’d probably know that most of the above episodes rely almost solely on the interaction between The Gang (the gang being Dennis, Sweet Dee, Mac and Charlie) and rarely anybody else. When the characters tend to go off on their own solo stories, the show suffers for it, so finally they figured out a way to utilize their ensemble in the best way they know how. This includes cutting down on the Charlie/Frank duo stories, which are usually more obnoxious and cruel than funny. (Yes, there is a fine line between funny and cruel.)

Now, Charlie is back with Mac and their combined stupidity has made for the best moments of s4 – their faked death being my personal favorite – and Dennis and Dee are back to setting each other off.

Basically, less Frank, less Cricket, less McPoyles. Less of everybody who’s not The Gang. Except for Charlie’s waitress. She’s better than ever (especially when drunk during the episode where Dee wants her life to be more like Sex and the City.)

And we should thank the comedy gods that the show understood the cult status behind what was basically a throwaway moment – Charlie’s glam rock song “Dayman” (fighter of the Nightman!) – and turned it into a rock opera for this season’s final episode. They didn’t have to do that. They didn’t have to go all musical. But they did, and you shall bow before them.

Really, really ridiculously good looking.

Really, really ridiculously good looking.

Best Moment of the Season:

When Dennis realizes, finally, that he was actually hallucinating seeing the comedian Sinbad and Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Marshall at a mental institution, when in actuality he had just been bumped on the head very, very hard. (“Sweet Dee Has A Heart Attack”)

Second Best Moment of the Season:

Witch Dee flies away on a broom, thus concluding their Colonial America-set story. (“The Gang Cracks The Liberty Bell”)

Third Best Moment of the Season:

Dennis’ penis shadow slowly moving through the glory hole. (“Mac & Charlie Die”)

Fourth Best Moment of the Season:

Dee’s complete inability to get through doing a stand-up comedy routine without retching. (“Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life”)

Fifth Best Moment of the Season:

“I will smack your face off of your face!” (“The Nightman Cometh”)

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