'House' writers' room: Talking about love and death and this week's episode
Supervising Producer John Kelley wrote Monday's episode of "House," titled "Fall From Grace." He took some time to answer questions about the episode.
Ferris Bueller (Dan or whatever his name is) tells a lot of anecdotes: stint in rehab, dad burned him as a kid (with cigarettes?), that he had been a scholarship student and intended to become a doctor, that he nearly beat his girlfriend to death. Something happened to make him into the monster he is. Which stories, besides “I’ve done some evil things,” are we supposed to believe?
JK: Like all good liars, our patient never strayed very far from the actual truth. Almost everything he told our team was true -- the major exceptions being his real name and the story about his girlfriend in college. In the real version, her roommate didn’t arrive in time to save her life.
Regarding the casting of “Joan of Arcadia’s” Christopher Marquette as our POTW -- was that in the works a while? Did you watch old “Joan” eps, to gauge the chemistry those two characters had?
JK: Don’t tell Amber Tamblyn, but I’ve never seen an episode of “Joan of Arcadia.” The truth is... I had never heard of Christopher Marquette before we cast him. He earned the role the old fashioned way, by giving an incredible performance when he auditioned. I didn’t even realize they knew each other until the first day on set. It also turns out Chris is old friends with Karolina Wydra, the actress who played House’s new wife. The guy really gets around a lot.
House seems to have gone from an AdultCon hedonistic bender (sex, drugs, etc.) to adolescent slacker (model helicopters, monster trucks, ping pong, etc.), at least this week. Why?
JK: Last week he pampered himself. This week he attempted to have “fun.” All of these activities could be considered mindless distractions. House’s way of avoiding the emotional trauma/fallout from his breakup with Cuddy. What really has me worried... What will House do when he runs out of distractions?
How do the writers keep from writing themselves into a corner, especially with a major story arc like House getting married? You’ve driven down the alley, now, how will you back up? Or will you? (Unless Chase indeed isn’t licensed to unite couples in the state of New Jersey…)
JK: Two words -- David Shore [the show's creator]. He has the road map and continues to guide everything the writers do on the show. So far we’ve only had to stop a few times to ask for directions, but it was raining and fellow writer Sara Hess needed to use the restroom anyway.
I’m trying to figure out Cuddy. She told Wilson last week that she still loves him, yet when she had a chance to step forward and win him back, she balks. Did she think he wouldn’t go through with the wedding or what?
JK: You can still love someone and realize you’re better off as friends. Cuddy knows she hurt House and feels horrible about dumping him, but she didn’t make the decision lightly. She has to do what’s right for her life and, more importantly, what's right for her daughter.
House has treated some people on the wrong side of the law before, but never one like this. A cannibal serial killer who has a disease which renders it difficult to digest vegetables –- it drips with irony. How in the heck did you come up with this one?
JK: I wrote most of this episode over our Christmas break. At the time, I was in a blizzard freezing my @%* off and I had the flu. I think the high fever had something to do with it. Also a big shout out to our medical miracle maker, Dr. John Sotos. He’s one of our medical advisers and helped immensely with this episode.
Masters has been put through the ringer in the last few weeks: She’s discovered that when you are truthful with patients, it can be detrimental. She’s also lied to a patient's family member. She has discovered House is an addict and finally, she has facilitated in curing a suspected serial killer. Is a catastrophic meltdown in her future?
JK: Depends on your definition of meltdown. Stay tuned.
While you were sitting there at your computer writing the final act, weren’t you just a little worried that viewers might look at the serial killer angle and think, “Hey, too much!”
JK: Um... yeah?
I knew it! Thanks for your time, John.
-- Linda Whitmore
Photo: Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) and Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) attend House's wedding. Credit: Michael Yarish / Fox