Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Is Hugh Laurie Lost in the "House"?

Having finally gotten around to watching my first episode of the new medical drama, "House", I think I’m ready to pan it! As someone who now ritually avoids network telly whenever possible (OK, I make an exception for ABC’s "Lost", and maybe the occasional "West Wing" when I can still stomach watching that particular fairyland—but that’s it, really!), I'm usually able to avoid being sucked into TV-land. But I was sucked into watching an episode of Fox’s new series with my partner last night. Only reason I did so was because of the wonderful Hugh Laurie, who I remember so fondly from his days with “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and various "Black Adder" series (not to mention his turn in Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” video). Laurie's a bit of a weirdo here; he's got the whole misanthropic, tortured hero thing going. Fair enough, I thought ... but then again, is it? It took me a couple of ad breaks, but I came to realize that poor Laurie’s a fish out of water in this mad-doctor-with-an-attitude adventure—and not just because he’s dumped his Brit accent for something weirdly American. He’s actually not too bad—I mean, he really tries to bring this thing around—but the show around him is just too crap; actually, it's insufferable: Too many beautiful people, too many plunging necklines, too much been-there-done-that camera work (including that now-clichéd internal organ cam pioneered in David Russell's Three Kings); and as for that Aussie character with the mad hair ...! I’ll sign off by quoting Sherwin B. Nuland in Slate. Now Nuland—sorry, Doctor Nuland—is a surgeon at Yale, though I won’t hold that against him. He thinks the depictions of medical procedures in “House” are rubbish—I’ll take his word on that—but the bit I sign on to is this: “What this show needs, in the highly unlikely event that it will survive, is a character who winks conspiratorially at the viewer, conveying his awareness that Dr. House and the plot, dialogue, and story line of this misbegotten series are as outlandishly preposterous as they are laughable”. That character should be Hugh Laurie. The fact that it isn't means it's a sad day for us all!


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