Starring Hugh Laurie, Jennifer Morrison, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Sean Leonard. Created by David Shore. Transmission Season: 2004-2005. FOX, 22 episodes, 42 mins.
I want to say that I dislike formulaic television shows, but then I recognize most shows have a formula one way or another, so I’ll limit my dislike to the following: I am not a fan of any incarnation of CSI, NCIS, or LAW & ORDER. I have a semi-interest in two other FOX shows though, BONES and LIE TO ME, although that interest stems purely by my pleasure in watching the awesomeness of David Boreanaz (ANGEL) and Tim Roth (PULP FICTION). Otherwise, the medical drama/cop drama/procedural drama/mystery drama just doesn’t hold much in the way of interest for me, unless there’s some really awesome clincher that just demands that I come back each episode.
Out of all of ‘em, that’s HOUSE for me. Frankly, I don’t find myself too invested in the cases House and his expert team of doctors face episode to episode, which I know is a big draw for many, but the real success of this show is entirely the characters. It’s a testament to the writers and the actors that this show, which is so entirely formulaic, doesn’t feel remotely like it deserves to be in the niche. For the longest time I would tune in here or there or read a episode review from TV Squad, but I never really watched a full episode, and I was always curious how it started. Now seven seasons in on FOX, I finally got the chance to rent the entire first season, and it’s pretty damn good.
As many have said before me and many will say after me, Hugh Laurie owns this show. Full of pain, pessimism, and narcissistic tendencies, Gregory House isn’t a very well loved doctor at the hospital, but he’s an invaluable one. In fact, one of the interesting but semi-cliched storylines of the season involves a multimillionaire donating loads and loads and loads of dinero to the hospital, and he quickly clashes with House. Inevitably, it turns into a 'fire House or I take my blah blah million back', and it's one hell of an episode with some powerhouse performances. It also adds a continuity to the series, stories like that, where the first 14 or so episodes were leading up to the final batch. But back to the matter at hand, in that even though he House does his best to make you hate him, he's so damn fantastic, interesting, and charismatic of a character you nearly get depressed whenever he's offscreen. So, kudos Mr. Laurie. On the other hand, HOUSE benefits from a diverse set of characters that keep the interest level high, indeed.
House is accompanied by three doctors. Chase (Spencer), Cameron (Morrison) and Foreman (Epps). Out of the three, I’m more a Cameron fan myself, which I’ll explain later, but all of them are integral to the show and offering up different interpretations or diagnoses. Foreman is the rule man, the guy who doesn’t walk outside the line and a stickler for order, so of course he and House have a row plenty of times in the season. As you can expect, Foreman isn’t a favorite of mine, not by a long-shot. In fact, I’m possibly fantasizing about what happened to Romano on ER happening to Foreman, but knowing that Foreman has both his hands in season seven, it appears that’s not going to happen. Chase sides with House often, but even he has his disagreements. Not afraid to bend the rules here and there, Chase is an intuitive individual, and my second favorite character. Be mindful, I’m not bashing the actors, just the characters. Spencer is loads of fun as Chase, and Epps seems to have a fun time arguing with House and his colleagues, it’s just unfortunate that fun doesn’t transfer to the audience.
Cameron, played by Jennifer Morrison (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER), is perhaps the coolest and most interesting. Reserved and understated in her performance, Morrison portrays Cameron as a wholly independent woman, tough and decisive, and unafraid to stand up for her convictions, all the while maintains a alluring feminine quality. There's not a lot of shows that can accomplish that, where it's either, 'She's too pretty to really be this character' or 'She's too tough to channel her emotions'. Morrison finds just the right balance, and I have no doubt it helps that her character is written in quite the interesting way.
Two other characters making great impacts on House are Lisa Cuddy (Edelstein), the runner of the hospital and the person most likely to explode from stress by Houses' actions. They banter like a old married couple, yet there's an undeniable chemistry between the two. I'm thankful that the writers didn't start up the sexual tension subplot yet, and it's very refreshing to just have two associates biker and insult each other. There's a certain amount of glee about that with this show. The other character is Dr. James Wilson (Leonard), the only man House can call his friend. Unfortunately regulated to sidekick and not given a great list of plots, Wilson is nevertheless a delightful and fun character I hope to see exploited in further seasons.
The format of the show is as so: the tease introduces the guest star and symptom, the first act is everyone suggesting ideas, second act they come up with a diagnosis and treat it but its wrong, and third act is the correct diagnosis and resolution of any hostility or problems that ensued during the prior forty minutes. Nice, easy, acceptable formula, and the beauty is that it allows plenty of wiggle room for the characters to breathe and do their own thing. And above all, it never stops being fun when House comes up with the correct treatment, but the danger it presents to the patient is too extreme so his colleagues try to stop him, and he finds a way to do the insane thing anyway. Whenever House goes bonkers or gets in trouble, it’s always a fun time.
By now, anyone and everyone who has a inkling to watch HOUSE has done so. If you haven't, well, here's my two cents: Watch it, you'll like it. Pretty soon you're going to find yourself walking around with a cane on Halloween and muttering insults to random people. And wear a nice suit. So, yes, HOUSE - SEASON 1, watch and love.