B-

House: "Here Kitty"

Cats are weird. My folks have a Siamese, she's been with the family for years, and every time I come to visit, she just stares at me. Then she runs away; it's like she's evovled from feral hunting thing to the feline equivalent of a crazy old woman in the attic. All skin and bones and tail twitching. She's too small to be a threat, and sometimes she lets me pet her, but there really isn't any trust involved. If at some point she were to stop staring and go for my throat, I wouldn't like it, but I wouldn't actually be surprised.

"Here Kitty" gets some mileage out of the inherent creepiness of cats, although it veers off into Goofy Land a few too many times to be really effective. As the "Cuddy/House" romance continues to stay on the sidelines, it's nice to have another episode that didn't embarrass itself too horribly. The actual patient's case here is mostly just an excuse for various riffs on faith, causality, and superstition, and despite repeated reminders that the PotW could die, it never feels very urgent; unlike "Social Contract," there's no agonizing psychological component to hold our attention. But Taub gets a subplot, and that's nice.

A twist on the cold open this time, as we start with House playing with a home-made race-car track in one of the clinic rooms. Cuddy finds him and introduces our PotW, Morgan West, a rest home nurse who's been feeling "bad." House isn't much interested until Morgan collapses and starts seizing; and even then, it's only the green urine that shows through her white pants that catches his eye.

It turns out, though, that there's good reason to believe Morgan (was she ever named in the episode? I got "Morgan West" off the IMDB) isn't quite so sick after all; Taub and Kutner find evidence she might be faking her illness, and when House tests her, her attempted second seizure doesn't quite pass muster. Even worse is the reason she gives for wanting to check in to the hospital--she doesn't feel bad, but the nursing home where she works has a death cat named Debbie. Debbie has a habit of spending the night on the bed of patients who wind up dying soon after, and Debbie's latest nap-buddy is our terrified PotW. House scoffs, but when Morgan has a bronchospasm in from of his office, he decides she isn't faking after all, and sets about to discover the source of her illness, as well as try and solve the mystery of the predicative power of the puss.

As House goes around doing House-type things, Taub's got actual problems to deal with; he lost a ton of money when the markets fell, and now, given that he's not making nearly as much as he used to, he's concerned about keeping up his wife's standard of living. When he runs into an old school chum who just happens to be a CEO at a major surgical tools company, it seems like a sign from above; here's a chance to get back to making the money he's used to, as well as get away from the constant interference and snideness of his current boss. Too bad that old chum turns out to be a lying creep.

While New Coke has its problems--mainly that while I like some of the individual members, as a unit they're not all that compelling--I do like watching Taub standing up to House. The problem here is that House turns out to be right, even though he's wrong about the particulars; Taub quits his job at the hospital, thinking it's time for a change, but when he tries to follow up with his chum, he finds that the chum was less a CEO and more a fired secretary running a scam. So Taub is back at work that evening, as close to contrite as he ever gets. There's no real point to the exercise--at least when House would screw around with Chase or Cameron, there was still a sense of connection between them at the end, no matter how tenuous. I think that's my biggest issue with the new cast; as strong as Taub and Kutner can be, there's no real drama in the way they bounce off Dr. Dickhead. This show is about House. It's not a medical drama with a cranky sumbitch in a leading role. Taub's problems, solid as the character is, seemed to exist in a vacuum; they don't serve to do anything but make us feel kinda bad for him, and even then, it's not that bad, since it's not like he lost any money.

As for the PotW, she's got cancer in her appendix, and the feared death cat was just attracted to the heat emanating from electric blankets and feverish old people. House expends a lot of energy trying to find a logical reason for Debbie's actions, and, despite the usual protestations from Wilson and House's expected lack of professionalism, I actually think he had a point. The PotW apparently became superstitious after the death of her stepson, which seems--arbitrary. Or at least it does here. We've complained in the past at the way episodes of House can try too hard to connect all off their plots under one overall theme, but this season we've seen how it's possible to go too far the other way; because Taub's storyline takes up as much of the running as it does, most of the tragedy of Morgan's story is lost. We've seen the faith/reason struggle before, but I don't mind if the show repeats itself a little. I do mind when those repetitions come off so half-heartedly.

I said I enjoyed this, and I did; considering there have been episodes this season I actually wanted to turn the channel on (something that had never happened to me with this show before), I'll take what I can get. Judy Greer is fun (well, not here, but I appreciate the reminder that she still exists), and I laughed a few of times. Writing this review, it all sort of fell apart in my head, but for a brief forty minutes, I was entertained. And it's good to keep getting the word out: cats = death. They may cuddle up to you at night, but they're only in it for the warmth.

Grade: B-

Stray Observations:

  • The Kutner/House dynamic was a little forced this week, although I did like the "ladder in the office" set-up, as well as the urine on House's chair.
  • Man, it took forever for Wilson to show up and start judging things.
  • House: "Cats make terrible doctors. Oh wait, that's women."
  • Repeat next week. I might actually get to bed before midnight.

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