Before I duck back into semi-retirement from House writing, I just had to do this interview. Larry Kaplow, who left the show after three seasons — and two previous interviews with me — returns for season five. His first episode back (co-written with David Shore) airs Tuesday.
- Home to House: An Interview With Returning Writer Lawrence Kaplow
“It was like coming into a new show. It was really hard writing the first episode back. The others had been with these characters for a year — well, a truncated year because of the strike, but 16 episodes, so they had a feeling for them. I came in almost like any new writer coming into a show. The structure of the show had changed.” Read more.
For simplicity, I did this one as a Q&A so it’s mostly the edited transcript of our talk. And, um, in my defense re: the “full of shit” comment … the man cannot take a compliment and there’s only so many times you can reassure that someone gives good interview, so that was a compliment in Kaplowese. I do not say that kind of thing to all my interview subjects (though sometimes it’s tempting for a whole other reason).
Here’s the promised deleted scenes from my conversation with House writer Doris Egan that I transcribed but didn’t make it into the article (see Don’t Mess With The Iconic Moment: An Interview With House Writer Doris Egan).
On what season four would have looked like without the strike, if “House’s Head”/”Wilson’s Heart” had been aired post-Superbowl as originally planned:
“I think from our point of view it didn’t really make a difference. You knew story-wise you’d have to pick it up with the aftermath of her death. Whether we called it episode one (of season five) or we called it episode 17 (of season four), in a way it didn’t really matter.”
More about the actors, specifically Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard, but seeming to encompass the entire ensemble:
“Again, it is wonderful just to be able to trust utterly with the people who are taking your material away. You know at the end of the day there may be something different here than what was in my mind, but there’s no way it’s going to be worse.”
On whether she has a bit of House in herself, and whether there’s a little House in all of us:
“I think there may be. I think it’s a good thing. That is what people respond to when they like him, that he’s saying things they might want to say. When it comes to writing, I’ve never written a character that I didn’t on some level understand and identify with even when they’re wildly different characters. It’s like there’s some aspect of it where I can say OK, I understand that part of it. There may be people in the world who can write from the outside perspective, but I’m not one of them.”
“I actually want to do an essay at some point about spoilers, but I’m coming to believe in what I think of as normal spoilers and spoilers that really spoil. I mean, I am kind of a spoilerphile myself. When there’s a show I like and someone has some information about what’s going to happen on it, I’m like ooh, spill it, tell me. And yet there are a few things that I regret I knew, and I know I would have enjoyed them much more if I had not known.”
“I was on a show once where we put out a fake part of a script. It was Dark Angel, and for the season finale there were two scenes they put out and that transcript went on the Internet. I was like, my god, that’s diabolical. But even then, to me that was still a fun kind of spoiler. The world wouldn’t have ended if that had gotten out.”
(I mentioned that scenes from an early draft of the season one finale, “Honeymoon,” were leaked and caused fan consternation over a bar fight that wasn’t even in the final script:)
“That’s another danger with spoilers. Again, I’m a spoilerphile so I’m not in any position to throw stones. But there is a danger when you hear a spoiler: in your mind you immediately put it in a certain context and then you react to that, whereas when it actually happens it could be in an entirely different context. But in a way it’s too late, because that trip wire in your brain has already gone and you’ve already made a judgement about a character or a situation or a choice and it’s too late now to take that back.”
On whether with all the teasing over various pairings, we’ll ever see House in a romantic relationship with any of them:
“The short answer to that would be you never know. I personally would like to believe that when the day comes, a long time from now when the show is over and we reach the end, I would like to believe that House is as ornery and alone as he has ever been. That’s just me personally. As to anything that happens along the way, I do not know.” (Me: “And if you did, you wouldn’t tell me.” Egan: “If I did, I wouldn’t say.”)
On her favourite of the episodes she’s written:
“‘House vs. God,’ because the story structure of that one worked so well. Everything supported everything else, which rarely happens. I’m a big believer in doing what you have to do to get to the interesting scenes, but that particular structure seemed to all work out. I described it once as ‘providential.'”
More on fanfic:
“It’s also wonderful to see what people can do by taking different worlds and melding them. I don’t just mean, let’s take this movie and put it in this movie’s world. For example, there was an X-Files fan fiction story that was in the form of a novel, and it was just so not what you would expect. It was internal and thoughtful and it was just very differently written. The take was just so different than the take on the TV show. And yet they were at core the same characters. It was as if you were using similar mythology.”
On what television she watches:
“I don’t have time to watch a lot of TV. It’s so sad. My TiVo is so full, and I’m always trying to create room on it.”
Me: “But not by actually watching the shows.”
Egan: “Not by watching the shows. I did, over the last several weeks, make a huge effort and I’m almost up to date on Dr. Who. I haven’t watched Mad Men. I haven’t watched any of Heroes and it’s exactly the kind of show you would think I would love. But I’ve got the DVDs.”
Me: “So some day.”
Egan: “Some day.”
My latest from Blogcritics. Hardcore spoilerphobes might want to stay away for now, though nothing in it fits my own definition of a spoiler. We do talk about a piece of information that’s already been made public and that only the most naive fan wouldn’t have assumed anyway, but she also gives a hint of when that particular detail will occur.
- Don’t Mess With The Iconic Moment: An Interview With House Writer Doris Egan
“I feel like House and Wilson, they deserve mythology. They’re larger-than-life characters. There was one moment when I was typing the script where Wilson does something and I wrote: ‘This is an iconic moment.’ I thought someone would make me take that out, but they didn’t.” She feared the scene itself might be omitted since it was scheduled after the main shoot. “Hugh said, ‘How could they do that? I believe you called it an iconic moment.'” Read more.
In the interest of time and therefore my sanity, I’m not going to do a transcript as I’ve done with some interviews in the past, but in a day or two I’ll post some “deleted scenes” – quotes I transcribed but didn’t end up using in the final article.
My thoughts on the Emmys are up on Blogcritics, including smiling for House, frowning for Pushing Daisies, shrugging over Two and a Half Men, and scratching my head over why I should care what channel a nominee is on:
- The Emmys Don’t Get It Abysmally Wrong
“Hugh Laurie is nominated in a field so competitive it took six slots to fit in the five worthy nominees and still include James Spader. Who, let’s face it, will win again. I can’t take anything away from the other nominees, but as the years go on it becomes more incomprehensible that Laurie still hasn’t won for a performance that can tumble from heartbreaking to infuriating to side-splitting in an instant. His lack of a nomination in 2006 was something I’m always fearful will be repeated.” Read more.
I’ll probably do another of my looks-like-it-might-be-annual posts half-heartedly predicting the winners later, so don’t take me seriously predicting James Spader’s inevitable win. Though it wouldn’t surprise me anymore.
My last “official” Banff TV festival post is up now, based on the Master Class of Entourage creator Doug Ellin:
- Entourage Finds Success Out Of Failure
“Proud of the draft he turned in, Ellin was shocked to learn that HBO wasn’t so thrilled. ‘What don’t they like about it?’ he asked Levinson. The answer? ‘They don’t like anything about it.’ ‘They had no notes, they hated it so much,’ Ellin continued. He decided to revise the script on his own time, ‘even though they begged me not to.'”Read more.
All my Blogcritics Banff posts are collected here except Anatomy of a House Episode: Airborne, which I put under the House feature column instead. Why? And why only that one and not the David Hoselton interview too? Shush. It seemed logical at the time.
Here’s my mammoth Craft post from the Banff World Television Festival, which became two related posts:
- From Idea to Screen: The Craft of TV Writing
“Comedy writer Jeff Greenstein, currently on Desperate Housewives and formerly with Will and Grace and Friends, talked about the craft largely from the big-picture perspective of the showrunner or creator, while drama writer David Hoselton of House delved into the nuts and bolts of writing an episode from one-line idea to shooting script.” Read more.