House: The Medical Genius
Hello everybody! This week we have an interesting pick (as I binged the last few months watching the whole series). We have the medical drama House.
STARRING: Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer, Peter Jacobson, Kal Penn, Olivia Wilde, Amber Tamblyn, Odette Annable, Charlyne Yi
# OF EPISODES: 177
GENRE: Dramedy, Mystery, Medical Drama
YEAR: November 16, 2004 – May 21, 2012
COUNTRY: United States
Gregory House, M.D., often construed as a misanthropic medical genius, heads a team of diagnosticians at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. Most episodes revolve around the diagnosis of a primary patient and start with a pre-credits scene set outside the hospital, showing events ending with the onset of the patient’s symptoms. The typical episode follows the team in their attempts to diagnose and treat the patient’s illness, which often fail until the patient’s condition is critical. They usually treat only patients whom other doctors have not accurately diagnosed, and House routinely rejects cases that he does not find interesting. The story lines tend to focus on his unconventional medical theories and practices, and on the other characters’ reactions to them, rather than on the details of the treatments.
The team employs the differential diagnosis method, listing possible etiologies on a whiteboard, then eliminating most of them, usually because one of the team (most often House) provides logical reasons for ruling them out. Typically the patient is misdiagnosed at least once and accordingly receives some treatments that are at best useless; this usually causes further complications, but—as the nature of the complications often provides valuable new evidence—eventually these help them diagnose the patient correctly. House often tends to arrive at the correct diagnosis seemingly out of the blue, often inspired by a passing remark made by another character. Diagnoses range from relatively common to very rare diseases.
I would categorize House as a very good show that had some great moments. Something like The Wire or Lost is just going to rank higher because of the ambition those shows had. The were trying to make something all time great, whereas House was more of a procedural show. There’s nothing wrong with that, its just that procedurals tend to aspire to less thanks to their basic structure. Most House episodes have an identical story to tell with certain variables (patient, symptoms, disease) that get changed out. I don’t think there has been a show as that followed as rigid a formula as House other than Law and Order. It is quite an achievement that given that story structure that the show was so good.
Despite that structure the show would occasionally step away from the formula. When it did so, it was clear that the writer’s behind the show had some serious chops. I’ll quickly countdown my top ten episodes before returning to my series recap.
Here are my thoughts on the series finale.
While I am happy that House changed himself by ‘killing himself’ or faking his death in the fire allowing him to take on new meaning and a new life, I am quick to remember House’s own mottos of Everybody Lies and People Don’t Change. And I guess I don’t buy it for a minute. I want to. Deep down I want to. Perhaps if earlier episodes had paid this more off, I would be more accepting of it. You could argue House in “Holding On” accepting Wilson’s decision was the beginning impetus for House changing, but I feel that it should have started much sooner than that. It is usually wise to champion letting the audience put 2+2 = 4 but here it feels X + 2 = XY and solve for X and XY leaves you with just an calculation that the calculation itself feels faulty. The answer makes sense but…
As much as I liked the series finale of House M.D. I really didn’t love it. I liked it, but I loved the penultimate episode “Holding On” more yet one digresses.
Ultimately the only thing that really matters is how creator David Shore wanted to end the show. Did he end it the way he wanted to end it? And really, as someone who loves storytelling, that is all one can ask for. Because it means that David ended the show his way and on his own terms with what he could make do with. And that to me, is sometimes the sign of great endings as well.
- Main cast performances.
- Number of episodes.
- Interesting cases.
- Character design/relationships.
- Differentials began to be repetitive after season 5.
- Guest stars.
- Structure of each episode.
SCORE: 9.0 / 10
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