Monday, September 11, 2006

HOUSE, M.D. (Season One TV Series)

Hugh Laurie House, M.D. Created by David Shore
Starring Hugh Laurie
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



I’ve got one big complaint about HOUSE that I must mention. I work in the medical field and one thing is glaringly missing from this otherwise excellent series: ancillary staff. Where are the nurses, radiologists, and lab techs? Trust me, doctors DO NOT start their own IVs on patients, or run the CT machine, or draw blood, or process viral cultures. If they attempted to do all of this, there would be zero time spent on patient care.

Hmpf! Okay, I’ve got that off my chest.

Gregory House (
Hugh Laurie, STUART LITTLE series) is who this series is about. He’s a doc with a keen sense for disease. And he’s also damaged goods. Years before the series even begins (and as the story progresses) we learn why doctor House hobbles around on a cane. One of his thigh muscles infarcted (died) due to ischemia (blood and oxygen deprivation) thus killing off a lot of muscle tissue. This has hardened him as well as causing a lot of pain, which he quells by popping Vicodin as if they were M & Ms.

The head of the hospital where he works (Dr. Cuddy played by
Lisa Edelstein) forces House to work in the hospital clinic; something he loathes ("Oh look! A runny nose. How exciting!") Obviously House feels this is beneath his skills as a disease specialist and this is very insightful into his character. Not only does it show the audience his uppity attitude but it also shows his amazing diagnostic abilities. He figures out pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, niacin toxicity, and even paranoid delusions in the blink of the proverbial medical eye. This might sound as if it would come off as completely ridiculous, but the writers of this show have given doctor House such an excellent persona that it comes off being completely believable.

Although I had problems with the glaring omission of ancillary staff, the producers of House made such a screwed up character with remarkable brainpower that I found myself completely engaged in the series. And although there are several holes in how things "really happen" in hospitals, I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what barbed comments doctor House would throw out next at the clinic, at his staff, or at the hospital administrator ("I don’t have a pain management problem. I have pain issues. Or maybe I do have pain management problems but I’m just too stoned not to realize it" or "She just ran six miles for the first time in years and her legs hurt. Hmm. I wonder what’s causing that?")

As mentioned earlier, I work in the medical profession and part of the appeal of this series is that doctor House holds back nothing. He’s completely, brutally, honest, which makes him both rare and unsettling. We in the medical profession would often LOVE to say some of the caustic things that come out of his mouth, but we hold back for fear of a) losing our job, and b) being sued back to the stone age.

Even so, the writers of this excellent series have created a great character who makes us both cringe and laugh.

Click here for the House season one trailer!


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