Silver Chips Online

The doctor is back in the "House"

Television's most controversial doctor is back

By Bridget Egan, Online Art Editor
September 22, 2005
Gone are the days when the TV doctor would tell a patient to "take two aspirin and call me in the morning." Now, the doctor is a lonely, bitter and sarcastic man who enjoys his Vicodin a little too much and has a tendency to play Gameboy instead of treating his patients.

"House MD," last year's hit drama on FOX television, has begun a new season with sure signs of success. Set in a hospital, "House" features Doctor Gregory House (British actor Hugh Laurie) who, with the help of his co-workers, treats patients suffering from obscure and rare diseases.

The treatment of rare diseases in and of itself isn't the interesting part. Television has seen more than its share of hospital dramas, with shows like "House" holding little leverage against competitors like "ER" and "Scrubs." What makes "House" worth watching are the characters. House, a middle-aged, cynically charismatic man with a limp, treats the world with utter disregard. Popping Vicodin more times a day than average people eat, House treats his patients with his obsessive skill and his smart mouth.

House's fellow doctors, Chase (Jesse Spencer), Foreman (Omar Epps) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) all add to the dynamics of the show. Chase buys his way into the job, Foreman has his position only because he was previously in jail and Cameron was hired because House thinks she is pretty.

A typical episode of "House" follows the patient from diagnosis through treatment. Often, House works in the hospital clinic and deals with less serious cases, such as a woman who will not have a tumor removed from her stomach, because her husband likes her more when she is fat. Normally featuring more comical situations, this side plot allows the audience a moment to relax from the intensity of the show.

Every so often, creator David Shore throws in a few twists, as in the season premiere which featured a death row inmate dying for no explainable reason. While raising the controversial issue of capital punishment, the episode managed to entertain viewers, while making them contemplate the irony of first healing an inmate only to kill him.

Unfortunately, like any other medical television show, the medical jargon that House and his team use is incomprehensible. Though the doctors might as well be reciting the "Gettysburg Address" in Greek, viewers can still understand the basic plot, and commonly there is a confused relative for whom the medical expressions are interpreted.

Starring relatively unknown actors, people might expect "House" to be another show that is doomed to fail. But viewers, for some strange reason, love the bitter doctor. Maybe it's House's constant mocking of his co-workers, or maybe it's his distinctive limp that has him hooked on Vicodin. Or maybe it's just the fact that he tries his hardest to save any patient, regardless of age, sex, race or religion.

All it takes is one episode to become addicted to "House." Whether you start watching in the beginning, middle or end of the season, you too will soon be more addicted to the show than House is to Vicodin.

"House MD" airs at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday nights on FOX.

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