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.