Wednesday, 19 April 2006

House

Well, I finally got the PC fixed. It turns out my niece shut it down while Windows XP was still loading. She did not realise the dire consequences of this action. Anyhow, it is running normally again.

Last night I got off early from work, which gave me the luxury of actually watching primetime television for once. In this case I watched the last part of American Idol (not a show I would watch on a regular basis, but they were performing standards last night) and then House. Along with Lost and Desperate Housewives, House has been one of the most talked about TV shows of the past two years. Despite this, I did not have high hopes for the series. Medical dramas have never particularly appealed to me. Indeed, it seems to me that they all tend to be made from a cookie cutter. Every week another patient suffers some unusual ailment and the brave doctors must rush to save his or her life. And every week the brave doctors become emotionally involved with their patients. Indeed, I think it would be safe to consider medical dramas as a subgenre of soap operas for the most part.

Fortunately, House is different. Much of this is due to the character of Dr. Gregory House himself, played by the great Hugh Laurie (of The Young Ones, Blackadder, and Jeeves and Wooster fame). House is an absolute curmudgeon who never gets emotionally involved with his patients. In fact, he has a tendency to view his patients more as "cases" than as "human beings." House is also an outright cynic when it comes to humanity. When it comes to people, he tends to believe that they almost always act with their own interests in mind. Despite this, there can be little doubt that deep down House does care about his patients, even though he does keep his distance, and he always fights to save the life of each and everyone.

House is assisted by a small group of residents, each with his or her own unique personality. Dr. Allison Cameron (played by Jennifer Morrison) is the closest the show comes to the physicians usually found on TV medical dramas. She typcially becomes emotionally involved with her patients (much to House's consternation) and is always concerned with the ethics of any given situation. Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) is ambitious and sometimes seems to put such ambition above his relationship with his other residents and even his patients. Dr. Robert Chase, played by Jesse Spencer, is the closest of the residents in personality to House. He is a bit of a medical detective, fascinated by the puzzles that often confront them.

Indeed, moreso than its characters, House is set apart from other medical dramas in that it is much more of a mystery series than a soap opera. The show has been compared to the Sherlock Holmes stories and with good reason. Each week House and his residents are confronted with another mysterious malady. The doctors then chase down various clues until finally arriving at a diagnosis. Gregory House is a good match for Holmes, often using unconventional methods to solve a mystery. In fact, he has been accused of caring more about his medical puzzles than his patients.

In this respect, I rather suspect that House would appeal more to fans of mystery series than medical dramas. The show literally owes more to Columbo than it does Marcus Welby M.D.. In fact, I can actaully see the typical fan of medical dramas actually disliking the show. On the other hand, I think anyone who likes a good mystery and can appreciate original, unique characters enjoying the series quite a bit. On the surface, House might appear to be a medical drama, but it owes more to CSI than it does ER.

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