Friday, August 18, 2006

Hugh Is in the House

Most of the mystery fiction lovers I’ve talked with just can’t seem to get enough of the TV series House, which features an acerbic diagnostician played with a flawless mid-Atlantic American accent by Golden Globe-winning British performer Hugh Laurie.

Though House is a medical drama, the series’ creator and executive producer, Canadian David Shore (Law & Order, Due South), has said it’s no coincidence that the mystery elements of House are so compelling. One reason is that the character of Dr. Gregory House was inspired in part by that original party sleuth and fellow drug user, Sherlock Holmes. As well, Shore’s intention with this Tuesday night FOX-TV series was that it be a detection show, like CSI, but one in which “germs were the suspects.”

While Shore has stayed true to that goal, he’s also allowed the personal characteristics of his show’s principal players to develop. Lisa Edelstein, as New Jersey hospital administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy, is officious and prickly, yet retains a passion for medicine. Lovely Jennifer Morrison is self-righteous as Dr. Allison Cameron, Omar Epps shows his hotshot stripes as Dr. Eric Foreman, and Robert Sean and Jesse Spencer come off as totally believable in their respective roles as House’s best (and perhaps only) friend and a hot young Australian doctor. In season two, guest stars included Sela Ward (as House’s ex-wife), Ron Livingston, LL Cool J, and Cynthia Nixon.

But as talented as the cast and guest stars may be, the show’s growing fanbase tunes in week after week for Laurie’s occasionally obnoxious, damaged, but endearing Dr. Gregory House, who complains freely about his “nine to three” job, lacks the social skills to maintain a relationship, and whose constant pain from an injury he sustained prior to the show’s premiere gives the character’s lack of patience with his patients the roots to make it all believable.

With House we have a young show--season three is set to premiere on September 5--that was spot-on coming out of the box. The writing, under Shore’s direction, is sharp and witty, the characters well thought out and developed, and the acting ... well, I’m a fan, but I can’t help but think it was tough to go wrong with Hugh Laurie. He’s come a long (long, long, long) way from his Blackadder days or even his time with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met--and for a while dated--Emma Thompson. Thompson later cast him in her 1995 production of Sense and Sensibility and was once quoted as saying that Laurie is “one of those rare people who manages to be lugubriously sexy, like a well-hung eel.”

If you’ve not yet taken the House plunge, season two of the series goes on sale on DVD August 22. The six-disc collection features all 24 episodes from the second season and includes some bonus material, including Valley Girl versions of a couple of key scenes.


Anonymous said...

Matt Witten also writes/produces on the show. He is a former L&O writer and has published several amateur sleuth novels. I think maybe he wrote a play too...


Karen (Euro Crime) said...

Ages ago I read that Fry and Laurie were making a Sherlock Holmes tv show. House makes me wonder which of the two will/would play Holmes! Before House I would have picked Fry but's 50:50. ps Thanks for listing my blog and website.