Hope everyone had a wonderful, merry Christmas. Ours was nice: alternately chaotic and still in appropriate places.
I’m long overdue for a post about House. Darla Ecklund has been trying to convert me since, oh, last Spring, I think. She finally made me an offer I couldn’t refuse by loaning me the first season DVD last October. Diane and I have been nibbling away at it ever since.
We liked it from the first episode, but it was shaky going there for a minute about four or five episodes in. What we liked was the medical mystery each episode presented and the unique character of Dr. House. Most medical dramas are about super-caring doctors who grow emotionally attached to their patients. If there’s an uncaring doctor, he or she is probably a hospital adminstrator and acts as the show’s villain against whom our hero must endlessly struggle. Making the uncaring doctor the hero of the show was a stroke of genius.
Of course, that can’t last forever, because at some point if you’re going to care about the hero, you need something to latch onto. But even from the first couple of episodes, it was obvious that House does care, he’s just very very good at hiding it. He’s been hurt so badly at some point in his life that he doesn’t feel he can afford to become emotionally involved with, well… anyone.
I mentioned that there was a point at which we almost packed it in. Well, really it was Diane who had a problem, but her checking out on the show would’ve limited the times when I could’ve watched it. She noticed that there was a formula to the first few episodes. A strange case comes in, House and his team come up with an initial diagnosis that proves to be false, they come up with a second possible diagnosis that also proves incorrect, then they discover the life-saving third diagnosis and the credits roll. The show is a mystery show disguised as a medical drama; that’s what I love about it. But if the mysteries are formulaic, predicting their outcome will cause you to disconnect from them. Still, I’ve stuck with and enjoyed some formulaic mystery series (both on TV and in print) because the detective was fascinating enough to keep my interest. Once Diane pointed out the pattern to me, it bothered me as well, but I was more willing to stick with it because I like Dr. House. Fortunately, just as she was about to give up on the show, the writers abandoned the formula. If they’ve gone back to it from time to time, they’ve been clever in disguising it. Or maybe we’re just both so hooked on the characters now that we’re not paying attention.
I read something in a recent TV Guide that not only confirmed that House is a detective show, but also threw a gazillion-candle spotlight on why I love Dr. House so much. He’s Sherlock Holmes. One of the elements I’ve loved most about the show is House’s ability to walk into an examing room and immediately diagnose an illness without asking the patient any questions. Something in me registered that deductive reasoning as Holmesian, but I compeletely missed that his emotional detachment and drug addiction are also borrowed from Holmes. I guess that makes his entire medical team Watson, and Dr. Cutty is Lestrade. The billionaire who takes over as the hospital’s chairman of the board could be Moriarty and — though I haven’t gotten to those episodes yet — I’m guessing that Sela Ward must be Irene Adler. Or maybe I’m overthinking it.
So, I’m hooked. Grey’s Anatomy being an exception (and it’s really more of a relationship show), I’m not a big fan of medical dramas. But mysteries… man, I love those.