Not since Rob Morrow left Northern Exposure have I followed a network (or, for that matter, cable as well) TV series. To be sure, I have enjoyed a miniseries here and there and an occasional episode of a number of well-written shows (including most recently Grey’s Anatomy), but until watching an episode of House with my sister-in-law on Sunday while in Cincinnati, I never really felt engaged by a TV series.
So compelling was this TV show that I heard myself telling my newly 4-year-old nephew that he would have to wait until the commercial for my assistance with his puzzle (I had spent the better part of the day playing and shopping with him and his younger sister who, like a TV character of yore, can “turn the world on with her smile“.) While I left him alone struggle with the puzzle on his own (which could have turned out to be a good thing), I did have to turn away from the tube when his local uncle (my other younger brother) arrived at the house.
What I so liked about the show was not merely Hugh Laurie‘s crusty demeanor, but the ability to the writers to make the show about something more than the matter at hand. In the particular episode I was watching, Dr. House was treating a one-time nice guy who started speaking his every thought about those around him. (Kind of a foil for the show’s protagonist?) Without saying so directly, he show thus seemed to be asking a great (and fundamental) question: who are we really, our persona (the “mask” we wear everyday) or our passions (many of which we conceal in order to fit in — or not offend). Good writing that–to pose such a question through a story-line.
The show, despite one major casting flaw, seems to succeed for the same reason a number of good shows have succeeded: sharp writing, good casting and a smart premise. Nice to discover something this good on the tube when I had thought the only good TV today was miniseries.