Thursday, November 8, 2007

House: My Differential Diagnosis

Would YOU want to be treated at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital?

Nothing would frighten me more than becoming ill and having to go to Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH). Well, maybe there is one thing that would frighten me more – going there for treatment and finding that your doctor is Dr. Greg House (Hugh Laurie). Why? Because under his care, you’re likely to be closer to death than when you first came in for treatment – and sometimes your closer to death more than once.

The show follows a predictable formula. The show starts with the person of the week (often abbreviated to POTW) becoming ill. House’s staff initially spends time reviewing the patient’s history, all the while having to dodge the frequent insults and barbs from House. With the current season, House is screening a group of doctors to replace Chase, Foreman, and Cameron. Still, it’s the same formula as previous seasons, only with different doctors, and more of them.

The show continues while House, and the doctors, diagnose and treat the illness. I call it educated guessing. This is where the patient usually nearly dies, several times over, while they undergo frequently torturous treatments. Interspersed between this activity is House repeatedly insulting, abusing, and otherwise being generally annoying to everyone to which he comes in contact. Of course, the show would not be complete without some sexual innuendo, Dr. Wilson’s (Robert Sean Leonard) frequent quips, and Dr. Cuddy’s (Lisa Edelstein) low-cut attire. (Side note: Do women in high level positions really dress that way and expect to be respected? I’ve never seen it.) In previous seasons, there was House’s all too obvious pill popping and drug experimentation; this year, that subject is less noticeable. Also a staple in the show is House asking one of the doctors to break into someone’s home to find information to explain the illness. This season, we’re seeing some ridiculous scenarios as a twist on the "break-in" theme. Case in point: the doctors digging up a grave, at House’s insistence, in “Guardian Angels”. I mean really - does this happen in real life?

Let's not forget the obligatory operation and/or the scenes of blood, guts, and vomiting!

Toward the end of the show, House has some revelation and the patient is treated and becomes instantly better.

After a while, all this can become all too predictable and makes for a boring show.

I’ve never worked in any job dealing with the medical profession, but it seems that people I know that do, it doesn’t resemble anything near what we see at PPTH. It seems to me that if Greg House was the fantastic diagnostician that he’s billed to be, then he would be wrong so many times before he lands on the right diagnosis. It almost makes a case for having a computer diagnose the illness. And who in their right mind would want someone working for them who continually make harassing and racist comments? It certainly makes Dr. Cuddy look weak in ineffective. The show likely does it for shock value, but after a while, it becomes trite.

The only reason why I continue to watch the show is because the actors have great chemistry and they are very talented. The first season was the show at its best – great drama with interesting and more “real” people. The episode “Three Stories” is an example of the show at its best, giving a glimpse into the inner workings of House in a manner that draws you in. Lately, the show is becoming a caricature of itself, taking elements that worked well previously in small doses, and dishing them out in huge portions. And now I’m getting full on it. Too much of a good thing doesn’t make it a better thing.

I hope the show can somehow get back to the quality of the first season. I also hope that the show can work to portray a hospital environment that’s a little more realistic. More drama, less comedy.

And that’s my diagnosis.

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1 comment:

Black Tulip said...

Here I agree with you. House is very predictable, you just know what will happen next. However I like Hugh Laurie, not foe his role in House ( although he's good in it), but for his excellent performance in Black Adder, chapeaux bas!