Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Limping over the shark

I thought that since I had already written about Doctor Who and Supernatural, I really should devote some screentime to my favorite show, House, M.D..

Especially since I’m so worried about it.

I don’t quite remember when I became a fan of House, but I certainly remember how: my best friend in my writing program at some point, told me I needed to watch it and lent me the first season on DVD. I don’t remember why, nor how it came up, but man, it hooked me right away.

Some background: I was, during college, premed. I got right up to the MCATs before I realized I’m not a doctor, and by then it was late enough that I ended up graduating with a secondary major in science. My primary major was literature, and I did my thesis on the connection between medicine and writing as embodied in the work of Arthur Conan Doyle and William Carlos Williams. Looking back, I think what ultimately made me give it up was realizing that I really couldn’t handle that responsibility. It’s not the blood or the guts or anything; it’s the fear of making a mistake the cost of which would be a life.

I was skeptical when my friend lent me that DVD, but then I started watching the show, and I found I very quickly couldn’t stop. I’d say I’m not sure there’s a better show on television because I’d have a very limited sample set (I haven’t really owned a television in several years), but I know I just kept going, straight on through. I watched the entire first season in a weekend, and then watched most of the second over my first USC winter break, my first Christmas and New Year’s on my own and in LA.

And I loved it.

For anyone not watching; House is less a show about medicine than it is about diagnostics, problem solving, and detective work, and House himself has less in common with, say, Doug Ross (or choose a favorite doctor character) than he has with Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. One can pretty much pick up the series with any episode; most are completely self-contained, and all focus primarily on a single case. With nearly perfect three-act structure in every episode. Plus, House is acerbic, sarcastic, and brilliantly curmudgeonly.

But after last season, I’ve been wondering if he hasn’t limped over the shark.

The first three were mostly terrific, and the third ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger in which he lost his entire team (Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, and uber-hot Jennifer Morrison). It was set up well enough to be a dramatic development, and season three began first with House on his own, until his boss forces him to hire a new team. In typical House fashion, he basically has a marathon interview with, like, forty applicants. The third season pretty much became survivor in a hospital with House as Jeff Probst, with several odd-ish complications along the way.

I started to notice it most when House used a hunting knife and a wall socket to electrocute himself. I’m not sure how he did it, though; my father is an electrician, and so far as I know (do not try on your own), one needs at least two such implements, one in each slot of a socket, to complete the circuit and get a shock. How he managed to kill himself with just the knife is anyone’s guess (though, I guess, being House, he probably accounted for it), but moreso it took the character to a weird extreme. House is a Vicodin addict, certainly often a prick, and by most accounts self-destructive in some ways, but destructive enough to set aside survival instinct to see if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? It felt very much against character.

I can really only hope that the issues that occurred midway through the season did so for the same reasons that I speculate occurred with Supernatural; that writers’ strike messed up productions several ways to Sunday, and about the only show I’d guess it didn’t affect would have been The Bachelorette and its “reality”-based ilk.

The season ended with the death of a character too prevalent and well developed, over the season, to really be called minor but not really exactly major, either. It seemed to come a bit out of left field, but it did complicate various relationships in the show in a lot of ways.

With a few weeks left before the new season starts, I hope they’ve gotten their act together and pull it off well. I’m interested to see where it goes. The friction between House and Wilson (played by Robert Sean Leonard– Swing Heil!) could be insanely tense, and Laurie and Leonard are two actors I’d love to see holding nothing back while going for each other’s throats. They have as dramatic and amazing a chemistry as Laurie ever had with Fry (and if you haven’t seen A Bit of Fry and Laurie, you must).

I’m also wondering if they’ll ever demonstrate just what Taub actually brings to anything, because so far, I’m not totally clear on his use in the show, and why he’s there.

I’m also hoping to see more of Jennifer Morrison. But that’s kind of an obvious request, probably.

(this entry cross-posted to

1 Comment

  1. I remember why. It was because you were horrified with my taste in television viewing and I wanted to prove to you I wasn’t totally beyond hope. Just mostly.


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