Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm coming to this a little late, (no surprises there!), so I missed the initial furore surrounding this series. Was always on the list of 'gotta watch that', along with many others. Well, I'm catching up, currently just finished the 5th DVD from season one, and what do I think?

'House' seems to me to have handpicked aspects of all the medical dramas, stirred them randomly in a witch's brew and come up with a fortuitous result. It contains the irreverence of 'Scrubs', the melodrama of 'ER' or 'Gray's Anatomy', and the explicit gore of something like 'Nip/Tuck'. It also borrows elements of forensic shows like CSI, where the doctors break into the patients houses seeking clues for whatever ails them, like a medical 'whodunnit'. Hugh Laurie is superb as the brilliant but caustic and sarcastic Doctor House. So cutting and unpleasant as to make one like him, however that works...? I think he says all of the things that you wish you could say, but know you couldn't. His relationship with his colleagues is interesting. He's constantly bickering with the hospital's chief administrator, Cuddy, often making schoolboy remarks on her clothes or appearance. He's bullish to his team of doctors, coming up with flash diagnosis and dismissing any suggestions they might have, to defend his own judgements. We are given brief glimpses into his private life, (playing the piano alone in his dimly-lit apartment on Christmas Day), suggesting his loneliness and inability to open up. He has but one 'friend' among hospital staff, whom he has 'man-to-man' conversations with, and there is the suggestion throughout season one of a potential relationship with Cameron, the only female doctor on his team, who clearly likes House, despite everything. (I know I could find out where this goes if I jumped forward, but I refuse!)

There are too, moments of emotional depth, which are presented in a subtle way, and not overplayed as they tend to be in the likes of 'Grey's Anatomy'. An example from season one was when House was presented with the trumpet of the famous jazz musician he treated, probably his most coveted possession, and on receiving this gift, they share a moment of understanding. In response to why House pops pills all the time, he replies "I'm in pain", to which the musician concurs "Aren't we all?"

If I have any negative criticisms of the show, it's probably something around the fact that it follows the same structural make-up in each episode...person gets sick, they make a wrong diagnosis, person gets worse, they do a bit of research, and hey presto, they come up with the most random, but correct diagnosis by the end. All of this forms the backdrop to a very subtle development of House's life and relationships with the other characters. This should account for more of the storyline if I had my choice, and events should develop at a faster pace. The other characters support Laurie well, but really Laurie dazzles in his depiction of House, without whom, I suspect, the show would be second-rate.

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