House: Season 1

I tried watching this show on tv each week but found it very irritating and predictable. For some reason though it was much better to watch all in one go (well, over a few days anyway) as the formulaic episodes usually have some interesting character stuff buried in them and there are occasional but interesting breaks from the formula.

The star (and indeed the point of the show) is House himself, a miserable, sarcastic, bitter diagnostician who has no real interest in dealing with patients. It is glorious to watch him put everyone down with one-liners, harassment and cultural references and watch everyone around him try to work him out. Whether he really is a bastard, or actually has a heart of gold buried deep inside doesn’t really matter, any small hints given in the first season are extremely small. The rest of the cast is there as support really – the ”ducklings” (the trio of junior doctors who follow House around) are hugely cliche but have some interesting interactions, the dean of medicine seems ridiculously young and frequently pathetic, but makes a good foil for House sometimes. The standout is the long suffering best friend who seems to be the only indication that House actually has a heart.

Plots are almost a sideline, they’re usually vaguely interesting, but suffer from having almost identical structure eatch week. Patient has weird symptoms, House et al guess at cause A, patient nearly dies, they guess at cause B, patient nearly dies, they guess at cause C (sometimes being a mixture of A+B), patient gets better. Slotted somewhere in there will be a patient nearly dies, something they do makes the patient worse/nearly dead, something they want to do is radical/illegal hence the hospital administration gets involved, House treats minor cases in clinic one of whom leads him to come up with the solution. If you’re watching it on tv you can actually time these phases by advert breaks.

Towards the end of the season a threat to House is brought in in the shape of a generous donor who gets himself on the hospital board and decides he wants House out. Frankly this whole thing seemed a bit daft to me as it seemed ridiculous that a successful businessman would try to micromanage something he knew nothing about. It all seemed contrived to create tension for the seemingly untouchable House, which it did do successfully, so I guess it’s ok if you can look past the absurdity.


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