Friday, November 24, 2006
Little Professor in the House
[Some holiday silliness, crossposted from The Little Professor by popular demand (OK, by Scott’s demand). In case you’re wondering, lecturing on Walter Pater just before Thanksgiving break appears to be contraindicated.]
[As the episode begins, the PATIENT OF THE WEEK--a small Victorianist--is striding about the classroom, gesticulating as she goes.]
PoTW: What is a "hard, gemlike flame," exactly? Have any of you ever seen a hard flame? No?
[The STUDENTS, perhaps understandably unenthusiastic about Walter Pater at this late date in the semester, wearily shake their heads.]
PoTW: Well, let’s think about what Pater means. [Gesticulating even more energetically.] Can we connect the image to Pater’s earlier allusions to flames? [Moves about with greater determination.] What about his interest in energy and intensity?
[Suddenly, the PoTW stops moving. As the bemused STUDENTS look on, her face, neck, and hands suddenly blaze out in what appear to be letters of fire.]
STUDENT 1: Damn. I thought we were learning about Pater, not the One Ring.
STUDENT 2: Does this mean that she’s about to be reduced to a "tremulous wisp"? Because if she is, then she probably won’t be able to grade our papers.
[The PoTW collapses, screaming in agony. CUT to a hospital in Princeton, NJ, although why a PoTW from upstate NY has been transported to Princeton is not immediately clear.]
[CAMERON and and FOREMAN are fighting over who will have the most lines this week; CHASE is nowhere to be seen. HOUSE enters.]
HOUSE: If you kids don’t start playing nicely, I’m going to dose you with Kaopectate’s new formula for logorrhea. [Sudden silence.] Fine. Twist your tongues around this tasty treat. English professor, female, 35, entirely covered with mysterious texts. Thoughts? And where’s Chase?
CAMERON: Wow. She’s been...inscribed? That’s so nineties.
HOUSE: We’re debating her symptoms, not her belatedness. Unless she’s in Bloom, so to speak. Where’s Chase?
FOREMAN: Remember, il n’y a pas dehors du texte. It’s quite possibly an allergic reaction brought on by prolonged exposure to some literary theorist. No way to tell which one without running the tests, though.
HOUSE: Since when are tests any use on this show? Just skip the tests, inject her with some Derrida, and send her packing back to upstate NY. Where’s Chase?
CHASE: Behind you. [Everyone stares.] Sorry--I fell into a lacuna.
FOREMAN: Look on the bright side--at least the posters at Television Without Pity will have something to discuss now.
[Cut to the PoTW’s room. CAMERON and FOREMAN are injecting her with Of Grammatology; Chase, once again, is nowhere to be seen.]
CAMERON: That’s funny...she doesn’t seem to be responding. Her binary oppositions aren’t destabilizing at all.
FOREMAN: No wonder! Her chart says that her BA is from UC Irvine; she must have developed a resistance to Derrida. I knew we should have gone with Foucault.
CAMERON: You know, I’ve been reading Judith Butler lately, and I’m wondering if we’re seeing "regulative discourses" in action. Maybe the cultural "scripts" through which we perform gendered identities have become somehow manifest on this woman’s body!
[FOREMAN stares at CAMERON, mouth agape.]
CAMERON: Or not.
[CUDDY runs into the room for her token appearance, screaming.]
[CUDDY exits, still screaming.]
FOREMAN: Um, some logocentrism would have been mighty helpful there.
CHASE [apparently out of nowhere]: Why? It’s not as though we ever pay attention to anything she says.
FOREMAN: You know, we’d feel more confident of your abilities if you could just keep yourself from falling into random lacunae.
CHASE [shrugging]: The writer left the hole in the bloody plot, not me.
[CUT to HOUSE, standing on a balcony and looking pensive. WILSON--like CUDDY, making his token appearance--enters from an elevator.]
WILSON [looking puzzled]: That’s funny--I could have sworn this balcony used to be somewhere else.
HOUSE: Thanks to the clods supposedly in charge of continuity, we’re in the only self-deconstructing hospital known to mankind. Next thing you know, my office will be in the women’s locker room.
WILSON: And I’m sure you’re just so depressed about that possibility.
HOUSE: No, I’m depressed about the moral pablum you’re about to spew. Can’t you make yourself entertaining during any of your token appearances? Do your best Bette Davis imitation, perform a five-minute version of Fiddler on the Roof, juggle flaming clubs...Heck, you could even, I dunno, practice some medicine.
WILSON: Actually, the script says I’m supposed to contribute some gratuitous homoeroticism at this point in the plot. Although it isn’t clear if the writers are trying to appeal to fanfic writers or queer theorists...
HOUSE: I can see it now--"Wils(on)House: Dialogue and the Construction of Eroticized Professional Masculinities in Twenty-first Century Popular Entertainment."
[He pauses. Wilson stares at him, mouth agape.]
HOUSE: That’s it! It’s elementary, my dear Wilson!
WILSON [looking hopeful]: You mean...we’re about to make fanfic writers everywhere overjoyed?
HOUSE: No, that will have to wait for the next sweeps period. Dialogue, you fool, dialogue! [He rushes off to the elevator, but can’t find it.] Where’s the damn elevator?!
WILSON: Uh...I think the continuity demon got it.
[We’re back in the PoTW’s room, where things are looking bleak. CAMERON and FOREMAN hover over the bed; CHASE, predictably, is invisible. HOUSE bursts in, out of breath from racing down the stairs.]
HOUSE: How many minutes before the episode is over?
CAMERON: About eleven. Why?
HOUSE: Great! That means it’s time for the correct answer, now that we’ve spent the last hour making random guesses. Since all of us forget basic diagnostic procedures whenever the writers think it’s necessary, we neglected a vital clue. What’s actually written on the patient’s body?
CAMERON: A novel by Jeanette Winterson?
FOREMAN: Nah. It looks like...poetry?
HOUSE: They’re dramatic monologues! [In his best plummy English accent] I see Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lord Tennyson...
CAMERON: It’s so cute when you try to do an English accent, but I’ve got to say that it always sounds fake.
[HOUSE rolls his eyes at the camera.]
CHASE [from somewhere near the ceiling]: I don’t suppose we could inject a little more dialogism into the writing of our scripts? I’d love to have some actual lines...
ALL: Damn it, Chase...!
[Fade to black.]
*Mobile balcony originally pointed out at TWoP.
There really is only one word for this: genius.
You know, I’ve read TWoP (Television Without Pity) before, but not their stuff on House, so I hadn’t realized that they use PoTW as an abbreviation for Patient of the Week—an anagram for TWoP. So if this is a piece about someone being Tired of Walter Pater, and it is a Witty Type of Parody, then the whole is a ToWP PoTW TWoP WToP.
(OK, by Scott’s demand)
I am a cruel mistress, you know, demanding all brilliant things be disseminated widely. Down with me! Up with mediocrity!