House season one review
In a nutshell: If Hercule Poroit had borderline personality disorder. And a medical degree.
The 411: Having spent his career playing klutzs, nice guys and buffoons it’s fallen to Hugh Laurie to play a brilliant but deeply flawed American physicist Dr Gregory House. Perhaps following Ian McShane‘s stunning turn as Al Swearengen on Deadwood the idea of a limey playing a misanthropic genius seemed perfectly natural. If we can take on Renee Zellweger playing tubby fucknut Bridget Jones then they can take some of our talent to their bosom so they can act the living shit out of their thesps. On balance, they’re getting the better half of the bargain.
"If we can take on Renee Zellweger playing tubby fucknut Bridget Jones then they can take some of our talent to their bosom so they can act the living shit out of their thesps. "
It’s worthwhile taking a look at Hugh Laurie. Preternaturally gifted – an international rower at Oxford, accomplished composer and musician, brilliant comedian, successful novelist and actor – it’s a wonder he wasn’t widely known Stateside before this. His achievements have tended to be overshadowed, at least in the public’s eye, by writing and performing partner Stephen Fry though Fry insists that Laurie is the talent in the partnership claiming "he’s better at everything than I am."
And now he’s receiving plaudits for his portrayal of Dr House, the maverick physician who specializes in infectious diseases and does whatever it takes to solve the case. The Seattle Times says " there are three reasons to watch the show: Hugh Laurie, Hugh Laurie and Hugh Laurie". which is a shit way of putting it but you get the point – it’s a sparkling turn by Laurie.
Dr House has that familiar infallibility you associate with superheroes. He reaches flash judgments in seconds then bats back every objection his medical team throw at him. He’s harsh, caustic and unforgiving of any weakness or sentiment. If Aerial Telly were a doctor, he’d be Dr House.
The usual set-up with hospital drama is ordinary people performing extraordinary tasks. This is slightly different. This guy’s a fucking cunt and he performs extraordinary tasks. Of course, the trick is to give us little glimpses into his personal trauma which allow us to identify with and sympathise with him. They accomplish this well, revealing his painkiller addiction and with his lame leg dragging behind him you never forget he’s both an emotional and physical cripple.
His gammy leg is the result of an incompetent doctor not diagnosing correctly in time. You can see how this might affect a feller with a laser-guided ability to diagnose the undiagnoseable.
"Dr House has all the happy-go-lucky joie de vivre you expect from a man who just found out he’s got a cancerous testicle in his lung. "
He smokes, he swears, he pops pills – he hires women because of their looks – he’s an asshole. Dr House has all the happy-go-lucky joie de vivre you expect from a man who just found out he’s got a cancerous testicle in his lung. So it’s all barbed put downs and vicious aphorism – like Jeremy Paxman if he had an actual reason to be a miserable turd. Dr House’s team follow him around with a wary loyalty – knowing his brilliance but never afraid to challenge him when needed. Not that this does much good as he’s nearly always right but the clashes make for good drama.
So House is a modern American hero but it’s a decidedly British misanthropy that fuels him. We should be proud – it’s one of the few things we still lead the world in.
The best thing about it: Great special effects like a tapeworm inside a woman’s brain.
The worst thing about it: Tapeworm inside a woman’s brain! Aaaargh!
The verdict on House: Two of these, twice a day – come back in a week’s time if it hasn’t cleared up
Marks out of 10: 7.5