Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"I want to know who you're having the affair with"

Is it just me or does House cross the line a bit in Sex Kills with his assumption that Wilson is having an affair based on a box of chocolates, his reaction to that assumption, and his lack of support for his friend?
[Wilson is buying a box of chocolates from the little shop in the hospital lobby]
House: Who's the lucky woman?
Wilson: My wife.
House: No, I don't want to know who gets the chocolates; I want to know who you're having the affair with.
Wilson: [to the sales assistant] Fell on his head as a child, tragic.
House: Norwegian chocolate. Frankly, you buy that stuff the terrorists win.
Wilson: Some people bottle up their feelings; have them come out as physical pain. Healthy human beings express feelings such as affection by giving gifts.
House: Gifts express guilt. The more expensive the expression, the deeper the guilt. That's a $12 box so that means you haven't slept with her yet, or she wasn't that good.
Wilson: It's not all about sex, House.
House: Really? When did that change?
[Wilson glares at House]
House: Wilson! How long can you go without sex?
Wilson: How long can you go without annoying people?
House: No seriously, a week? A month?
Wilson: I'm not having an affair.
House: I didn't say you were. Not in this conversation.
Wilson: You sure you're right?
House: Absolutely. Your socks don't match, which means you got dressed in the dark, which means you didn't want to wake your wife which means you didn't want to talk to her, which means…
Wilson: I was referring to your patient.
If Wilson had been having an affair then you'd think House could have been a bit more supportive - harassing Wilson and asking him how long he can go without sex is hardly likely to persuade him to open up about his personal life! And Wilson was there for House through the whole Stacey thing - picking up the pieces the first time she left him and offering advice but still letting him make his own decision the second time. Admittedly afterwards he did tell him he'd made the wrong choice, and was quite happy to shout at him and at Stacey when he thought they were being stupid, but he never made fun of House or belittled his feelings.

Perhaps it isn't such a jump that House would think Wilson was looking elsewhere for female company: we know he's had at least one affair and two failed marriages, and that he works long anti-social hours. But we also know he makes friends easily, has a lot of female friends (Stacey and Cuddy among them) and is someone that women feel comfortable around and telling their problems too (like the crying nurse in Need to Know, or the new oncology nurse in Fidelity).

This isn't the first time we've heard about problems in Wilson's marriage though. In Babies & Bathwater he makes it quite clear to House - and to us - that he's having problems at home:
Wilson: "I've got no kids, my marriage sucks. I've only got two things that work for me; this job and this stupid, screwed-up friendship, and neither mattered enough to you to give one lousy speech."
"They mattered. If I could do it all again..."
"You'd do the same thing. Well, you'll be gone soon, too."
In Sex Kills we hear that maybe House is part of the reason things aren't working out:
[House and Wilson are playing foosball]
House: "Are you going to tell her?"
Wilson: "That you suspect an affair? Sure. She already hates you, why not? [...] There's nothing to tell."
House: "Why are you playing foosball here at 8 o'clock at night?"
[House's pager starts beeping]
Wilson: "You always want to simplify everything. Boil it down to nice, easy equations; nice, easy answers."
House: [starts walking off] "Go home and have sex with your wife."
So we get Wilson trying to tell House that it's not a simple problem, House having no sympathy and prescribing sex as a cure, and Wilson saying that Julie hates House - is she jealous of the amount of time Wilson spends with him, or does she just not like him? Let's face it, on first impressions House is definitely not likable!

Actually, the fact that Wilson is playing foosball with House at 8pm should have told him that there was no affair - if he had another woman to go to, wouldn't he be spending time with her rather than with House?

In Damned if you Do we get the first sign that Wilson has problems at home:

Wilson: You want to come over for Christmas dinner?

House: You’re Jewish.

Wilson: Hanukkah dinner. What do you care? It’s food, it’s people.

House: No thanks.

Wilson: Maybe I’ll come to your place.

House: Your wife doesn’t mind being alone at Christmas?

Wilson: I’m a doctor, she’s used to being alone. [House raises his eyebrows] I don’t want to talk about it.

House: Neither do I.
Actually that brings us on to something else. Wilson doesn't want to talk maybe because he doesn't know how to, or doesn't know what to say. But House isn't the sort of person who likes to talk about anything personal unless it's just for his own knowledge and satisfaction:
House: Your shirt is ironed. That means you haven't told your wife anything.
Wilson: Let's say you're right.
House: You're saying I'm right?
Wilson: No. Let us say. Does it occur to you that maybe there's some deeper guidance than ‘keep your mouth shut’? That maybe a friend might value concern over glibness? That maybe... maybe I'm going through something that I need to have an actual conversation about?
[Beat. House’s pager goes off – he checks it]
House: Does it occur to you that if you need that kind of a friend, that you may have made some deeper errors?
Still, despite the lack of sympathy, he goes to House when he needs somewhere to stay - not to a hotel (which a doctor in his position could easily afford) or to any other friend.
[House opens the door to Wilson standing there wearing a shirt, scarf and overcoat with a packed suitcase next to him]
Wilson: Could I stay with you for a few days?
House: You idiot. You told her.
Wilson: She told me. [House is stunned into silence] Things have been crappy at home lately; I figured I wasn't spending enough time with her. I figured... Turns out you're right, it's always about sex. She's been having an affair.
[They stare at each other for a few seconds then House moves back to let Wilson in]
House: Want a beer?
So even if House isn't the supportive, advice-giving friend that Wilson is, at least he'll lend him his sofa...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Wilson, James. Boy wonder oncologist."

I had an appointment at the hospital today with a specialist called Dr Wilson! Fortunately for me, he wasn’t an oncologist… but House’s Wilson is, and that has to be tough. One of my best friends – a doctor – said she would never consider going into oncology because it was so difficult emotionally and most of your patients died. Maybe that's an exaggeration, or maybe she was just talking about the in-patients on the cancer ward, but I can still see what she means about it being emotionally draining.

So how on earth does Wilson manage to do it and still care about people? Not only that, he's very young to be a department head - if he's supposed to be about the same age as RSL then he's mid-thirties. Maybe all that emotional baggage goes towards explaining why he and House are friends. It might also be related to the fact that he makes friends so easily - he genuinely cares about people. Perhaps he finds that he works better if he cares about someone. And maybe that's why he's so willing to go along with House's crazy ideas if it means he'll find a cure.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"I know you're in there - I can hear you caring"

Wilson and House
Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) consults with Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard)
in the HOUSE episode "The Socratic Method"
Credit: Richard Foreman/FOX

There's so much I could pick up on about the House/Wilson friendship in Need to Know, so these are just a few thoughts on first viewing. No doubt after I've watched it a few more times I'll have more to say, especially about Wilson's attitudes to cheating.

Anyway, I love watching House/Wilson scenes, but I think this episode really gave more of an insight into why they're friends. There's a lot more of House in Wilson than we see at first - he's willing to bend the rules if it's for the good of the patient, just like House is; in this case he's willing to give his patients cannabis, although the locked office door and guilty look on his face suggest that Cuddy wouldn't approve.

We did see a bit of this side of his character in The Socratic Method with the schizophrenic woman, when he was the one who shrank the tumour so she could have the operation.


Foreman: "It’s big – 5.8cm."

Chase: "We do nothing; she dies from liver failure within 60 days."

Cameron: "She needs a transplant."

House: [Sarcastically] "That’s gonna happen. […] Plan B. Surgery to resect the tumour."

Chase: "Joe Bergen does the knife thing – laser cauterizes while it cuts, saves more liver."

Wilson: "The tumour’s way too big. He won’t even consider it."

Foreman: "Not a big risk taker, Bergen. He won’t even drink milk on its expiration date."

Wilson: "He has no discretion. Five point eight centimetres is past surgical guidelines."

House: "Would he do it at 4.6?"

Cameron: "Why don’t we just say it’s zero, then we don’t need him at all. Tumours grow, they don’t shrink."

House: "This one does."

[Cut to Lucy’s room – Cameron holding an ultrasound thingy and Wilson with a big syringe full of ethanol]

Wilson: "Ninety five percent ethanol. The ethanol dehydrates the tumour cells, literally sucks them dry. Shrinks the tumour temporarily."

Cameron: "How temporarily?"

Wilson: "Well, if we’re lucky, just long enough to fool the surgeon."


People just don't seem to expect this sort of behaviour of him though, like when the surgeon came back out shouting at House, so maybe he gets away with it more - after all, he's "the responsible one"!

Going back to Need to Know, the bit where they're watching the surgery was interesting too - House the romantic and Wilson the cynic. Nice role reversal there, and it makes it more believable in a way, because everyone has moments of cynicism and moments of romanticism, and House and Wilson balance each other out.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"You lied to a friend to save a stranger"

I was trying to put into words why Wilson is such a good, likable character when I came across an e-mail that had been posted to the House_MD yahoogroup. The poster, Jenna, summed up pretty much everything I was trying to say:

"If I take House out of the equation, I have a hard time coming up with a favorite. The three young doctors are all likable, and all have hints of deeper characterization in development. Dr. Cuddy, who enjoys making House's life hell, gets points for being able to go head to head with a man who intimidates all others.

"I guess I would have to go with Dr. Wilson, though. Sweet and caring, he's seems to be House's polar opposite. Keeping a sense of humor when all around him are losing theirs, at first glance it doesn't look like there is any way these two could be friends. Then you realize it's because of those differences.

"I don't know how they became friends but the fact that this man can be friends with the most prickly person in the world means there's more there than just another hand patting "It's all going to be alright" doctor. Hell, just the fact that he wouldn't let House be alone on Christmas, alone after a long and bad day, means he's the kind of friend worth having."

And that (along with the quote at the top of this post) sums it up quite nicely...

Friday, April 07, 2006

What do we learn about Wilson in each episode?

Follow the links to comments on each episode. This list will be updated as more posts go up.

Season 1:

  • 101 Pilot
  • 102 Paternity
  • 103 Occam's Razor
  • 104 Maternity
  • 105 Damned If You Do - 1
  • 106 The Socratic Method - 1
  • 107 Fidelity
  • 108 Poison
  • 109 DNR
  • 110 Histories
  • 111 Detox
  • 112 Sports Medicine
  • 113 Cursed
  • 114 Control
  • 115 Mob Rules
  • 116 Heavy
  • 117 Role Model
  • 118 Babies & Bathwater - 1
  • 119 Kids
  • 120 Love Hurts
  • 121 Three Stories
  • 122 Honeymoon

Season 2:
  • 201 Acceptance
  • 202 Autopsy
  • 203 Humpty Dumpty
  • 204 TB or Not TB
  • 205 Daddy's Boy
  • 206 Spin
  • 207 Hunting
  • 208 The Mistake
  • 209 Deception
  • 210 Failure to Communicate
  • 211 Need to Know - 1
  • 212 Distractions
  • 213 Skin Deep
  • 214 Sex Kills - 1
  • 215 Clueless
  • 216 Safe
  • 217 All In
  • 218 Sleeping Dogs Lie
  • 219 House vs God
  • 220 Euphoria, part 1
  • 221 Euphoria, part 2
  • 222 Forever
  • 223 Who's Your Daddy

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"I love my wife"

I’ve noticed that Wilson doesn’t wear a wedding ring (before his separation from Julie, obviously). I wonder why not? There could be a perfectly normal explanation (my Dad doesn’t wear a wedding ring because he damaged his finger as a boy and doesn’t like the thought of anything on there now). Or maybe he just feels it would interfere with his doctoring, although he’d be wearing gloves to do anything where it might be likely to get in the way.

Of course, the other reason might be that it would cramp his style with the ladies, although I’m not at all convinced that he is a womaniser… There's a whole other blog entry in that somewhere...

Anyway, do American men wear wedding rings or is this a British thing? I’m sure I saw George Clooney wearing a ring in Ocean's Eleven. Or is it a Jewish thing not to wear a ring? Can someone enlighten me please?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"The handsome man with the boyish, open face"

Dr James Wilson
Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. James Wilson. Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Credit: Nigel Parry/FOX
Apparently that's what they were looking for when they were casting Dr Wilson, and they found it in Robert Sean Leonard, who says, "I like being the guy who isn't the guy but that the guy counts on. Plus I've wanted to be Tony Randall all my life." That's a reference to The Odd Couple, by the way.

But that's just scratching the surface of who Wilson is. I sat down a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd make a list of things I could write about here in case I needed inspiration later. It's a huge list!

  • Why do we like Dr Wilson?
  • Women, wives, marriage and divorce
  • Advice given about relationships
  • What do we find out in each episode?
  • Is he a womaniser?
  • What else does RSL have to say about Wilson?
  • Attitudes to patients
  • Wilson and House - why are they friends?
  • Wilson/Cameron
  • Stacy
  • What kind of woman does he go for?
  • Why is he so attractive to women?
  • Wilson the oncologist
  • The affair(s?)
If there's anything not on the list that you'd like me to write about, please leave a comment. And I’d love to hear from anyone who can point me in the direction of any quotes from RSL about Wilson, because that one up there is the only one I've found so far!

One final thing - yes, I'm aware of the Wilson/House slash that some people try to find in the show, but I’m not going to talk about it unless it’s actually mentioned in an episode (ie. Spin).
Just FYI

Welcome Holly

We look forward to your posts on the charming Doctor Wilson