By Callum Creaney
In 2010, Hugh Laurie was named as the highest paid actor on US TV drama. $400,000 per episode might seem a tad excessive but, as you enter the world of the medical master, prepare for eight seasons worth of heartache, joy, disappointment, hope and sympathy as you’re drawn in by the allure of fantastic characters and an impeccable lead actor. Laurie’s consistently stunning performance leaves him unrecognisable to audiences used to seeing Prince George in all his bluff, crass glory’ – forcing you to love the man creators were worried would “just be hateful”.
The show follows maverick genius, Dr Gregory House, as he applies cynicism and sardonic wit to a unique brand of diagnostic medicine. Together with his team of doctors, he tackles the most unsolvable of medical mysteries at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, New Jersey. Regularly flaunting the hospital’s regulations, House’s stalwart rationality is his most trusted tool in his battle to uncover the answer. Dependent on narcotics to manage the pain of a leg infarction which left him dependent on using a cane, House regularly puts his own health on the line to see his cases through.
Partly inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Gregory House is almost everything you’d want in a doctor and nothing you’d want in a friend: a brilliant intellectual with time, unlimited resources and an unbending determination to diagnose – balanced against a mordant wit and blatant disregard for human emotion. Applied not only to his treatment of patients, House’s abrasiveness leaves him with just one close friend, Dr James Wilson; the Watson to Hugh Laurie’s damaged detective.
Laurie’s performance is reward enough for investing time into digesting eight seasons of the show. His transformation into the gritty, middle-aged doctor with no manners and an inflated God-complex is reflected by his physical performance. With the character dependent on a cane to walk and plagued by pain, Laurie brings a physicality to the role which leaves the audience feeling every agonising step. Paired with his portrayal of House’s increasing dependence on narcotics, it’s almost impossible to remember that you’re watching a performance.
The medical mysteries themselves are fantastically well thought out too. The writers do an excellent job to balance good drama, excellent dialogue and realistic medical mystery. A commendable effort when doing any of the three well is a difficult task; and just when you start to notice the repetitive formula of each episode, House demonstrates a wonderful level of self-awareness which makes it permissible and allows you to carry on enjoying the plot without worrying about it.
Even those who aren’t interested in the medicine will find themselves completely invested in the myriad of subplots behind the main action of the story. House’s plot features romance, conflict, drama in the workplace, personal struggles, substance abuse, character development, humour, intrigue and a number of other relatable and interesting issues. Avoiding the clichéd, the show has particular strength in presenting the content in a moderated, civil manner – including a strong, balanced compliment of realistically flawed characters, all of which seem to have been perfectly cast.
So, between its plot, characters, detail, dialogue, self-awareness and the lead performance, House shows its credit quite clearly. Along with its two Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Satellite Awards, two TCA Awards and six Primetime Emmy Award nominations, it receives a glorious recommendation for Best to Binge Watch and almost makes you think that $400,000 isn’t quite enough.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);