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Author Topic: Paganism on TV -- Last Night's "House" Episode  (Read 25424 times)
Aster Breo
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« Topic Start: April 20, 2010, 01:50:26 pm »

I watch a lot of TV.  Too much.  But that's what happens when you're in chronic pain and can't work or read.  Undecided

I've noticed that paganism -- usually something Wiccish -- occasionally pops up as a plot point in popular TV shows, and they almost always get it wrong.   Not a huge surprise.

So, last night, I was watching the new episode of "House", which, for those of you who aren't familiar with the show, is about a doctor who is a brilliant diagnostician but a complete asshole.  Most of the episodes center on a patient with bizarre symptoms, and House and his team have to diagnose and treat him/her.  They usually go to the patient's home at some point in the episode to look for environmental toxins or whatever.

Last night's episode, called "Knight Fall", was about a guy who basically lived in a permanent renaissance festival kind of thing, and fell ill during a knights' duel.  The doctors checked out the ren fest, but didn't find anything relevant.  Then they went to his home.  Behind a locked door, they discovered what appeared to be a Wiccan altar.

It was a very brief scene, and ended up having absolutely nothing to do with the plot at all.  No toxins, no nothing.  They referred to the patient once as a "warlock", but that was it.

It struck me as VERY odd.  What was the point of making him a witch, when they then just completely dropped it?   Huh

So, it made me wonder if anyone else here saw the episode and had any reaction to it.  What did you think of that scene?  What did you think of the fact that it ended up being totally irrelevant?  What do you think of these random representations of paganism? 

(BTW, I checked online, and Fox doesn't put episodes on its website until about a week after their air date, so I can't link to the scene in question.)
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« Reply #1: April 20, 2010, 01:55:55 pm »

I watch a lot of TV.  Too much.  But that's what happens when you're in chronic pain and can't work or read.  Undecided

I've noticed that paganism -- usually something Wiccish -- occasionally pops up as a plot point in popular TV shows, and they almost always get it wrong.   Not a huge surprise.

So, last night, I was watching the new episode of "House", which, for those of you who aren't familiar with the show, is about a doctor who is a brilliant diagnostician but a complete asshole.  Most of the episodes center on a patient with bizarre symptoms, and House and his team have to diagnose and treat him/her.  They usually go to the patient's home at some point in the episode to look for environmental toxins or whatever.

Last night's episode, called "Knight Fall", was about a guy who basically lived in a permanent renaissance festival kind of thing, and fell ill during a knights' duel.  The doctors checked out the ren fest, but didn't find anything relevant.  Then they went to his home.  Behind a locked door, they discovered what appeared to be a Wiccan altar.

It was a very brief scene, and ended up having absolutely nothing to do with the plot at all.  No toxins, no nothing.  They referred to the patient once as a "warlock", but that was it.

It struck me as VERY odd.  What was the point of making him a witch, when they then just completely dropped it?   Huh

So, it made me wonder if anyone else here saw the episode and had any reaction to it.  What did you think of that scene?  What did you think of the fact that it ended up being totally irrelevant?  What do you think of these random representations of paganism? 

(BTW, I checked online, and Fox doesn't put episodes on its website until about a week after their air date, so I can't link to the scene in question.)


We saw it.  And found the 'witchcraft' scene to be very weird.  Especially when it had nothing whatsoever to do with the plot in any way.  We were actually talking about it after wards because it was so strange how it was handled.  And from what I could see, they mixed up wiccan with ceremonial magic (the book was the necronomicon) with whatever. 

We liked the ren faire scenes and found humor in the fact that it aired when faire season is just beginning.
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« Reply #2: April 20, 2010, 02:10:41 pm »

And from what I could see, they mixed up wiccan with ceremonial magic (the book was the necronomicon) with whatever.

Ah, thanks.  I couldn't read the title of the book, so I didn't catch that.

Weird.
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« Reply #3: April 20, 2010, 02:12:03 pm »


Makes me wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor.  It may well be that WAS a plot point, but that part didn't survive and for some reason they left the room in.

I've seen weirder.
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« Reply #4: April 20, 2010, 02:17:52 pm »

It struck me as VERY odd.  What was the point of making him a witch, when they then just completely dropped it?   Huh

So, it made me wonder if anyone else here saw the episode and had any reaction to it.  What did you think of that scene?  What did you think of the fact that it ended up being totally irrelevant?  What do you think of these random representations of paganism? 

Disclaimer:  I didn't see the episode.

That said...  I'm curious about how you would've felt if the door had opened to reveal, say, a quiet prayer area decorated with Christian imagery and they had ignored it other than to refer to the patient later in the episode as a "church guy" or something like that.  Would it have been as weird?

To answer my own question there, I think it probably would've been weird that way too, because when you've only got one episode of TV and this character won't be continuing in the series, it seems weird to waste precious screen time on something that ultimately does not serve to advance the plot.  (It's different if it's a character who we'll see again later and has more time for this to become significant on down the road; then you can spend a few seconds here and there dropping little bits of character exposition so that they can build up over time.)  But...  I think it sounds like a different kind of weird than you usually get from Hollywood regarding paganism, is what I'm trying to get at, I guess.  I don't think it's being weird about paganism itself, but rather being weird about how this patient's character is revealed to the audience.  A writing weird rather than a religious weird, if that makes sense.

In a general sense...  I've stopped particularly caring about fictional portrayals of paganism for the most part.  I remind myself that it's not just paganism; any time Hollywood takes on any group of people, there's the risk (read:  probability) that they'll get it wrong.  I mean, do any of us think that The DaVinci Code is a faithful and accurate portrayal of the Catholic church?  Anything more specific than "human", they're going to get wrong somehow, and I wouldn't bet on their getting "human" right when it came right down to it.  Paganism isn't special.  People who care about finding out the truth will do so despite Hollywood; people who are more interested in the stereotypes are not likely to accept the reality if it smacks them upside the head.  Hollywood pushing the stereotype doesn't help the truth get out there much, no, but I'm not sure it does as much damage as some people think it does.

But admittedly, it's not generally my particular brand of paganism that's being twisted out of all recognition, so maybe that factors into my lack of concern here.
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« Reply #5: April 20, 2010, 02:18:22 pm »

Makes me wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor.  It may well be that WAS a plot point, but that part didn't survive and for some reason they left the room in.

(note: while I am a fan of House, I didn't watch this particular episode)

I'm thinking that this could be the case.  What was the disease/cause of the Patient of the Week's syndromes?  Maybe they tried to tie in something he was doing in the CM practice (like maybe an allergy to some type of oil or incense) but realized that it wouldn't make much sense so they re-edited it and as Shad said, the altar somehow survived in the final cut.

Or it could be them saying "We know you exist," or something like that. Undecided
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« Reply #6: April 20, 2010, 02:20:29 pm »

And from what I could see, they mixed up wiccan with ceremonial magic (the book was the necronomicon) with whatever. 

The NECRONOMICON?!!???[/b]

Well, this wouldn't be the first time a Fox show did something like this.  *cough*King of the Hill*cough*
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« Reply #7: April 20, 2010, 02:23:02 pm »

And from what I could see, they mixed up wiccan with ceremonial magic (the book was the necronomicon) with whatever. 

We liked the ren faire scenes and found humor in the fact that it aired when faire season is just beginning.

This makes me think...  I wonder if it was someone's attempt at some kind of in-joke about stereotypes.  Between the timing of the episode and the Necronomicon (i.e. a fictional book, completely made up by Lovecraft as part of the mythos of his work, which is often purported to be a real grimoire)...  And it's sort of a stereotype that obviously all pagans are ren-faire types too...

I dunno.  I'm feeling like there's some kind of connection here that we're just not getting, but I may be wrong.
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« Reply #8: April 20, 2010, 02:42:34 pm »

I'm thinking that this could be the case.  What was the disease/cause of the Patient of the Week's syndromes?  Maybe they tried to tie in something he was doing in the CM practice (like maybe an allergy to some type of oil or incense) but realized that it wouldn't make much sense so they re-edited it and as Shad said, the altar somehow survived in the final cut.

I thought of the editing possibility, too.  And I thought they were going to go with an allergy to an incense or something like that.  But no.

[SPOILER ALERT!] The patient's problems ended up being caused by a combination of his secret steroid use and some hemlock that the "king" of the ren faire had made all the knights eat (mixed in with all sorts of other stuff like cow eyes).  Nothing at all to do with his practice as a witch.
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« Reply #9: April 20, 2010, 02:44:07 pm »

This makes me think...  I wonder if it was someone's attempt at some kind of in-joke about stereotypes.  Between the timing of the episode and the Necronomicon (i.e. a fictional book, completely made up by Lovecraft as part of the mythos of his work, which is often purported to be a real grimoire)...  And it's sort of a stereotype that obviously all pagans are ren-faire types too...

I dunno.  I'm feeling like there's some kind of connection here that we're just not getting, but I may be wrong.

I haven't seen it yet either (we get it via Hulu), but I second Shad: I wonder what's on the cutting-room floor. I also second Mel, with the "we know you're out there" aspect. I don't read much into things like this--ultimately it's about ratings, y'know?
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« Reply #10: April 20, 2010, 02:45:11 pm »

That said...  I'm curious about how you would've felt if the door had opened to reveal, say, a quiet prayer area decorated with Christian imagery and they had ignored it other than to refer to the patient later in the episode as a "church guy" or something like that.  Would it have been as weird?

Yes.  But I probably wouldn't have posted about it here.   Wink

I always think it's weird when a TV show spends time setting something up and then never goes back to it, even just as a red herring.

I have several close friends who are film producers, directors, and/or editors, and I almost went into the business as a continuity editor.  So I probably think about things like this way too much.  Cheesy
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« Reply #11: April 20, 2010, 02:45:59 pm »

I don't read much into things like this--ultimately it's about ratings, y'know?

Absolutely.  Which is another reason this made no sense to me.

I know it's not a big deal.  It was just a curiosity to me.  Smiley
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« Reply #12: April 20, 2010, 02:47:12 pm »

[SPOILER ALERT!] The patient's problems ended up being caused by a combination of his secret steroid use and some hemlock that the "king" of the ren faire had made all the knights eat (mixed in with all sorts of other stuff like cow eyes).  Nothing at all to do with his practice as a witch.

That has got to be the worse ren faire ever Shocked
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« Reply #13: April 20, 2010, 02:48:37 pm »

That has got to be the worse ren faire ever Shocked

Yeah.  There was a line explaining that the king had gotten the idea for making the knights eat the weird stuff from "Fear Factor".

*eyeroll*
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« Reply #14: April 20, 2010, 02:52:22 pm »

Yeah.  There was a line explaining that the king had gotten the idea for making the knights eat the weird stuff from "Fear Factor".

*eyeroll*

Given how earlier episodes have established how expensive that particular hospital is, I hope he can sue the king to help pay for the bill.  Then again, no one (probably) forced him to take the steroids Undecided
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