Hugh Laurie

House M.D.: Season 2

House season 2

House MD season 2 DVD

 This past week I rewatched season 2 of House MD because I bought season 7 of House MD.  That probably does not seem to make a whole lot of sense, I admit.  I am rewatching all of the House MD seasons, but I just did not want to watch season 1 again.  I love season 1, but I have seen it at least four times and so I started the rewatch with season 2.  It was the second time I saw the second season. (Wow, so far I feel like this paragraph is an effort in writing a tongue-twister.)

Season 2 consists of 24 episodes that began airing in 2005.  I feel that I need to explain some of my feelings toward television drama.  I am a strong believer in dramas being dramatic, fictional, and multi-faceted.  Following the history all the way back to the Dionysia events of ancient Greece, we cannot deny that tragedy and comedy upon the stage are almost necessary conditions of Western human culture. So, if we enumerate “theatre-men” like Euripides, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese, we can see that throughout history, theatre was never dull, disengaging, or forgettable.  While in the contemporary era television seems to be a distraction or a hobby, there is a definite core of cultural necessity tied within it.  Sure, a lot of television programming is frivolous and pointless – I would never write an apology for its intellectual vitality.  Nevertheless, there is something very natural and deeply-rooted about television shows that are dramatic, amusing, and entertaining.  House MD is usually all three.

I know that when I watch House MD, I am watching fiction. I know that I am watching theatre. I know that I may have to willingly suspend some disbelief. These are all normal elements of theatre. I feel like House MD would do very well if judged by ancient Greeks.  So, sacrifice the bull and ready the goat….

I could not remember when House’s ex-wife shows up. Apparently, its at the end of season 1.  The first episode of season 2 is called “Acceptance” and the title has a lot to do with House and his ex-wife, who (as a lawyer) has taken a position at the Hospital.  It also has to do with the patient House and his team are treating:  a death row inmate.  The inmate is played by none other than LL Cool J.  There are interesting dynamics between House, Cuddy, Stacy, and Wilson that run through the first part of the season.  While the individual characters are being developed and their relationships explored, there are a variety of unique, interesting, and complex medical cases hanging in the balance.

Starting a season off with a death row inmate can seem hack, but of course it raises the predictable issues. Is the death penalty just? Should doctors give equal treatment to a death row inmate and any other patient? These ethical “situations” continue throughout the season. In the sixth episode of the season, “Spin,” ethical issues surrounding performance-enhancing drugs in sports are raised.  In “The Mistake,” we learn of Chase’s father’s death and about a mistake made by Chase that led to the death of a patient.  A disciplinary committee investigates the actions and decisions made by Chase and House.  In “House vs. God,” the territory of faith healing and science is explored when a religious teenager is admitted.

In other episodes we meet House’s parents, meet an ex-bandmate of House, battle a case of life-threatening insomnia, and treat a patient who cannot communicate using spoken words.  All of these are interesting (albeit, probably not very plausible) cases. It’s good television – good theatre.  But the best episodes of the season are the two-part “Euphoria” episodes in which Foreman is on the verge of death and the last episode, “No Reason,” wherein House is shot in his office. We also get some zingers such as learning that Cuddy is considering in vitro fertilization.

House is as obnoxious, witty, and caustic as ever.  The script writers give us several great quotes per episode, however, I think the episode “Forever” has the best ones. A couple of these become “classic” in the show, and Hugh Laurie delivers them perfectly:

  • Ideas are not soda cans. Recycling sucks. Give me something new and shiny.
  • I ask you, is almost dying any excuse for not being fun?
  • Idiots are fun – no wonder every village wants one.

Overall, each episode provides solid theatrical performances that entertain the audience. The show is consistent, relatively intellectually engaging, and fun. Season 2 of House MD wins the goat at the Dionysia.

5 stars

House, M.D.: Season 1

House 1

House, MD DVD season 1

House M.D. is one of  my favorite shows on TV. (I do not actually have television service, I watch all things on DVD.) I own and have seen seasons 1-6, and as I usually do when there are no more TV shows available for me to watch, I just rewatch the stuff I already own. The first time I saw this season I watched the first two discs alone at home in the afternoon. I thought it was quite good.  I hadn’t known what to expect at all. Some medical show…. the main character is named House. That’s the sum of what I knew. I got hooked on the show, though.  I am just going to highlight two of the early episodes….

  • PILOT – 4 quotes

The pilot episode is pretty good, though not the best of the whole series.  It includes the first occurrence of the famous phrase of the series: “Everybody lies” — this comes at only 05:57 in the episode.  The patient’s name is Rebecca and she is ill because of a Tapeworm that she may have gotten from eating pork.  The diagnostics team figures this out because Dr. Chase saves the day by figuring out how to prove that Rebecca actually does have a tapeworm.  Dr. Allison Cameron?  Yeah, she doesn’t do a whole lot for the team in this episode.  However, House tells Cameron that he hired her because she’s good looking and “damaged.”

This is the episode where House tells Cuddy about the “philosopher” Jagger who says: “You can’t always get what you want.”   House also tells Dr. Cuddy (22:26):  “I don’t [think I’m always right], I just find it difficult to operate on the opposite assumption.”  Honestly, I think the actor should have said “from” not “on,” but its still amusing as heck.   One odd thing:  Dr. Wilson, House’s friend, spends time treating the patient, too.  So Rebecca actually has at least 5 doctors.  When the team cures Rebecca, her grade school class children give her a card that reads: “We’re happy you’re not dead, Miss Rebecca”  Overall, I give the pilot a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Occam’s Razor

The third episode of the season is one of my favorites. This one is a lot of fun because none of patient Brandon’s symptoms fit together. The episode starts off with Brandon and his girlfriend having sex.  He is taken to the hospital because of his cough, rash, and he passes out.  The girlfriend, at one point, mentions to Dr. Chase her fear that because she was “rough” with the sex act, that she might have caused Brandon’s illness.  House spends his time working on Brandon’s case and treating patients in the Clinic.  His efforts to spoil Dr. Cuddy’s orders for him to spend time in the clinic include his playing Gameboy Advance, and asking for consults from other doctors for basic diagnoses.  One of House’s clinic patients is a teenager who has an MP3 player up his anus.

The diagnosis that House maintains regarding Brandon, is that there are two different problems simultaneously causing Brandon’s illness – and House believes one of those is caused by a reaction/OD to another drug.

One of my favorite quotes is at 29:41 when House is talking to his team:  “The simplest explanation is almost always: someone screwed up.”    When it seems like House’s diagnosis might be wrong, he tells Wilson: “Reality is almost always wrong,” because House tenaciously believes he is correct.  As House’s diagnosis is proven correct, he tells Wilson:  “Make a note – I should never doubt myself.”  Wilson replies: “I think you’ll remember.”

Two other amusing quotes are when House sarcastically asks Cameron “Oh wait! Which way does time go?”  And when he scolds Wilson:  “No, there is not a thin line between love and hate. There is, in fact, a Great Wall of China with armed sentries posted every twenty feet between love and hate,” because this is the first insinuation and hint that there is any inkling of love/relationship between Dr. Cuddy and House.

I like this episode for several reasons:  how it brings up the issue of pharmacological treatments causing/interfering with other symptoms – and the potential there is for getting the incorrect medicine. I also like the balance of the comedic episodes in the Clinic with the seriousness of Brandon’s fate.  Finally, the writers are demonstrating how the other doctors in the hospital deal with (or don’t deal with) House’s antics. Of the first three episodes, this third one and the first are both necessary, canonical House episodes.

5 stars