Let’s talk about the codas with everyone, and why you chose those places — Taub with his children and Chase with his own team.
The codas were meant to be, ‘Life goes on.’ House has touched their lives, House is gone from their lives now, but House will always be part of their lives. It was just seeing a little glimpse of them thinking about that and appreciating it. It went along with the song that was playing at that point. “Keep me in your heart for a while.” Both of those songs were our message to our audience – keep us in your heart for a while and enjoy yourself.
Was there anything in the finale that was left on the cutting room floor that you wish you could have included?
There was a little more. We had Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn) make an appearance at one point, and Olivia. But other than that, there was some stuff that we made slightly clearer. But what always happens to me is that you think you have this nice, tight script and then you go into editing, start chopping, and you’re a few minutes long. Usually it works better shorter and tighter.
Did you ever want that first hour to be for the story and not a retrospective?
Originally we talked about doing a two-hour. That didn’t last very long. Once I had this story idea pretty firmed up, I didn’t believe I could sit through House assessing his life for two hours – as an audience member. [Laughs] At one point, I wanted, instead of 60 minutes, 65 minutes or 66 minutes. But it’s another episode, it should be the same as the other episodes. I shouldn’t be making indulgences.
What was the hardest scene?
It was a tricky one for logistical reasons. The burning building was huge. Shooting that explosion was fantastic. After he falls through the floor, we actually had Hugh, Sela [Ward], and Jennifer [Morrison] in a room with a lot of fire in it. It wasn’t dangerous; we were very safe. But usually when you shoot a take, you can reset and do it again. But this time, every three minutes of filming, we would have to get everyone out of the room and let it cool off for 10 minutes. So logistically that was a challenge. In terms of performances, it was great. These are actors who have dealt with the show for years and years. Every one of them was fantastic.
As a writer?
It was a challenging story to tell. We knew we wanted to start with House in a burning building, tell how he got here and where he goes from here. That was our set up, and the challenge becomes how do we make those flashbacks interesting, knowing he ends up in a burning building and nothings going to go right for him.
In your head, what happened after five months.
That’s something I’m happy to leave to the rest of the world. The story ended where the story ended. I’m happy to let people fill that in for themselves. That’s actually one of the attractive things, to me, about this story. I liked the idea. Normally, I like to tell the story specifically and draw people along. This is the emotion you’re going to feel now. This is the emotion you’re going to feel NOW. But I liked the idea of leaving the audience with an ending they can fill in themselves. But five months from now? That’s less interesting to me than what House and Wilson are doing on the road.
Maybe talking about Dead Poets Society. Loved the Easter Egg, by the way. Which was your favorite or one you were especially pleased with?
That was a good one. We were tempted at one point to do a whole bunch more. We were tempted to do homages or tiny reference to other series finales out there, like have someone get hit by a golf ball or a Korean woman with a chicken to reference M*A*S*H, but we thought that might be too distracting. But I loved the Dead Poets Society and “Nobody cares about the medicine.” Actually, that might have been my favorite.
And “Cancer is boring.”
“Cancer is boring”! I love that that’s the last line of the series.
Lastly, what can you say about the run you’ve had and finishing up the story?
It’s been very satisfying. I’ve got many specific complaints and no general complains. It’s been quite literally beyond my wildest dreams. If someone had guaranteed me that I would get three years on the air and enough of an audience to stay on the air, I would have been thrilled with that. It never occurred to me that it would have this sort of following and this sort of excitement. It’s been amazing. I’m not very eloquent about this because I can’t still wrap my head around this whole thing. It’s been amazing.