May 22nd, 2012

promise tea

The End of an Era

This morning's walking errand (I'm trying to trick myself into exercising) was to walk to the Indian market via the park and get some lemons for making Greek food for dinner. I get a bizarrely perverse delight in buying my ingredients for making cuisines from other ethnicities at the Indian market. The only things I've bought there for making Indian food have been rice and some spices. Sadly, the only kind of lettuce they had was iceberg, so I'll still need to go to a regular grocery store tomorrow if I want to make BLT sandwiches (I'm partial to red leaf lettuce). However, their tomatoes looked divine. If I hadn't already had some, I would have stocked up.

I seem to have stumbled into a TV cop show along the way. While I was walking there, a police car abruptly did a fast U-turn -- right out of a cop show chase scene -- and tore off in the other direction, leaving the stench of burning rubber in his wake (must remember that sensory detail, in case a similar situation comes up in a book). Then there was another police car in front of the market, with the cop talking rather intensely to someone sitting in a car parked in front of the store. When I left, that car was gone and the cop was standing on the sidewalk, talking to a very agitated elderly man and seeming to try to calm him down. The "chase scene" car was headed in a different direction from this shopping center, though, so whatever it was, it was two different incidents, unless that cop was going in pursuit of someone who'd left the shopping center. Now that I think about it, I recall that the cop was talking to the man in the car and the man in the car was telling him who his cell phone carrier was. I wonder if maybe someone stole his phone (and maybe more) and ran off, and they were getting to the carrier to track it. Normally my neighborhood is very quiet and has a really, really low crime rate, so this level of excitement is a big change. I've heard that the local police have a funny name for this particular beat, something like "Sleepytime Ranch," because it's usually so dull. I suppose I should have lingered, whipped out a notepad and pen and said, "Don't worry, I'm a writer. Carry on."

With the series finale of House last night, the main TV season is pretty much over. That was about the only thing I liked that was cancelled this season, and I was ready for it to end, so I guess that makes it a good season for me. No spoilers, but the final episode encapsulated for me what the main problem with this series became over the years. I loved the first three seasons and even contributed an essay to a book about the series, and then it just imploded. The big event that a lot of people talk about as the turning point was when they demoted/moved around the original cast and brought in replacements, and while I don't think the show ever got its balance back from that, I feel like the real problem was that they lost sight of what they were trying to do with that character.

The concept that I liked about him at the beginning was that while he was a jerk, he was mostly saying the things that most of us may think but would never dare say out loud. It was kind of cathartic to have him say these things, to be willing to call stupid people stupid to their faces instead of having to smile and nod and play nice. The rest of his jerky behavior was diagnostic. Just as his approach to medicine was to poke things (metaphorically or literally) and let the response give him valuable information, he did the same thing in figuring out people. See what riled them or how they reacted to his outrageous behavior, and then he'd have a better understanding of what made them tick. But somewhere along the way, he just became mean and selfish and acted like a spoiled toddler. There was no rhyme or reason for him to do the things he did, and he got so outrageous that it was unbelievable any hospital would let him on the grounds. And then they went and woobified him, turning him into a victim. In the first couple of seasons, they seemed to go out of their way to say that there was no particular thing that made him that way. He was the same person before his leg was damaged, so it wasn't about the pain and the limp. He never outright stated that he wasn't abused, but I thought that was strongly implied in an early episode where his parents visited. But then later they decided that he was abused horribly by his father! Who wasn't really his biological father, so his mother had been lying to him and allowing her husband to abuse him! Poor, sad, pathetic House! And then they went the standard television route of trying to show that a woman could heal him with her love! Fortunately, that turned out not to be the case, but watching them attempt to go that route was incredibly painful.

Though, oddly, what lost me for at least half a season was when they hired a third-year medical student for a fellowship. I got the feeling that the writers didn't actually know what a "fellowship" was (it's something you do after completing a residency, so it's not something you can do while still in medical school). Not to mention they kept hiring actresses to play doctors in a fellowship who were barely old enough to have completed medical school. I guess women old enough to be fully qualified doctors who have completed residencies are too icky to have on TV. I mean, they'd be over 30. And then they'd get older! (Technically, Jesse Spencer (Dr. Chase) was also too young for his role, but apparently there's a different training track in Australia that might have worked out, so you can kind of handwave that, but they had way too many 25-year-old fellows.)

I did come back for the final season when they jettisoned the romance plot and the medical student, and it did get back to what I used to love in some ways. I thought the finale was a little self-indulgent and went to the well of "let's analyze this fascinating character that is House" one too many times, but I liked the final outcome.

And next season my Monday nights will be free, unless there's something on cable. Warehouse 13 should run into October this year, so there's that. That's usually my best writing day, so I guess it will be even better.