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Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Sublime and the Ridiculous - A Continuing Series 

Well, here I am again; faced with an intimidating blank screen. I feel somewhat at a loss as to what to include in this entry, so I've decided to focus on both the ridiculous and sublime elements of my new favourite show, "House."

"House" is a medical drama, with a quirky sense of humor, on the Fox network. It stars one of my favourite British actors, Hugh Laurie, in the title role. It is quite hilarious to see Mr. Laurie as Dr. Gregory House, as he speaks with an American accent and uses a cane in the show. It seems American audiences aren't familiar with his work in "Blackadder" or "Jeeves and Wooster," and some think he really is American and may use the cane outside of working hours. Hugh Laurie describes his character as "ornery," a word which he loves using, as it is not part of every day speech in Britain. Laurie's character is head of the Infectious Diseases Department at a New Jersey hospital. He has no bedside manner and tends to treat each case at a distance, allowing a team of unbelievably pretty doctors to deal with patients. His character can be compared to Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, he is a solver of puzzling cases. Interestingly though, he combats infectious diseases in the same way Holmes endeavoured to fight criminals. Like Holmes, he has an unhealthy dependency on a drug, which affects his performance and perhaps his ability to interact with people. He also butts heads with the chief of hospital administration in a way that is comparable to Holmes' difficulties with Scotland Yard and its various representatives.

So, what is sublimely entertaining about this show? Hugh Laurie. He brings a standard of acting and a cleverness in delivering his lines that always leaves me in awe. However, the thing that made my jaw drop was seeing him in such a dramatic role when I've spent more than 10 years admiring him in comedies where he plays a buffoon and a fool. Suddenly, he seems to have taken on an aura of sexiness along with the new accent, cane and the embittered character of Dr. House. The writing in the show is very good, as well. Yet, I think through the medium of another actor it would not have been as successful.

Now, what is ridiculous about "House?" First, as I alluded to earlier, the supporting cast is way, way, way too good-looking. I've spent a lot of time with family members in hospitals over the years and it is no catwalk. I've seen the occasional doctor that has merited a second glance and one or two nurses that could grace a Sears catalogue, but really there are no special people-watching advantages when sitting in a hospital waiting room. However, I must say that House himself is just so ridiculously funny that I can't stop laughing every time I remember one of his zingers. I close this entry with some of my favourites (note these are not word for word):

Patient: What are those pills for? Oh, for you, for your leg.
House: No, 'cause they're yummy. Want one? They'll make your back feel better.

House: Unfortunately, you have a deeper problem: your wife is having an affair.
Patient: What?
House: You're orange, you moron. It's one thing for you not the notice, but for her not to notice you've changed colour, she must not be paying attention.

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