Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The House, M.D. Formula

At my roommate's behest, I finally sat down with the first season of House, M.D. Ass hat doctors are definitely not my thing, but she convinced me that House's acerbic style would grow on me. Funnily enough, it did. With a few significant looks and a tricked-out cane, Hugh Laurie turns one of the most misanthropic bastards on TV into one of the most like-able tragic heroes ... though I wouldn't dare say it to his face.

The only drawback of watching this show marathon-style (two to three episodes a night) is that the formula becomes painfully obvious. To wit:
1. The patient is shown falling ill in an unexpected and/or hilarious way. Cue theme.
2. House is forced to take an interest by one of his minions.
3. The team's first diagnosis is proven wrong when the treatment causes the patient's condition to worsen. House takes a moment to torture his minions.
4. House is forced to interact with the patient and/or family to get to the truth.
5. He decides on a risky treatment that will almost certainly kill the patient (but never does).
6. Something he learned/saw during the walk-in clinic will lead him to the answer.
7. House delivers the final diagnosis and, in a shocking turn of events, the patient is saved!
8. Instead of accepting the family's heartfelt signs of gratitude, House skulks off into the corner to pop a few Vicodin.
Mix in some of House's good-natured racism/ chauvinism/ antisemitism, ordering his minions to break the law (and they usually do), and a bit of sexual tension with Wilson Cuddy, and you've got a show! My roommate assures me that the writer's break from the formula in later seasons. And from my recollection of the first episode I ever watched - the season four finale, "Wilson's Heart" - that is largely true. So I will stick with my prescription of House, M.D. ... at least until this nasty rash goes away.

1 comment:

Maggie Cats said...

I started watching House the season before last (3rd season, maybe?) and resisted a long time because 1) it was on FOX, 2) it aired after American Idol, and 3) it was so popular I figured it must be crap. But darn it all if I don't love it now! It definitely has a formula that starts to bug, but this past season really shook things up. While most people were not entirely happy with the results, I loved it. And hello, Kal Penn added to anything is a good idea.