What to say if you liked it
An intelligent, understated medical drama which has sent Hugh Laurie soaring high in a new direction, far removed from his trademark nitwittery, while his erstwhile partner Stephen Fry is stuck in his curmudgeonly posho rut.
What to say if you disliked it
It’s nowhere near as good as Holby City. (Actually, that’s a big fat lie – we couldn’t really find anything to dislike)
What was good about it?
• Hugh Laurie delivers a dark, deep performance as the “brilliant, brutally honest doctor whose flawless instincts make him a hero.” When Martin Clunes and Peter Davison tried to pull off a similar trick in British dramas Doc Martin and Distant Shores, they were just stupidly rude. Laurie’s Dr Gregory House, though, has a deep philosophy running through his malevolence. He’s also got a limp, an unkempt appearance and traces of vulnerability beneath his frosty facade.
• The big case in this opening episode (teacher Rebecca has a seizure) wasn’t a sensational ratings grabber but provided the medics with an absorbing riddle.
• House tells it like it is (like Dr Cox in Scrubs without the whistles and funny voices). “Your cousin doesn’t like the diagnosis? I wouldn’t, either. Brain tumour. She’s gonna die. Boring.”
• House tells it like it is again. “Treating illnesses is why we became doctors. Treating patients is what makes most doctors miserable. If we didn’t talk to them, they couldn’t lie to us and we wouldn’t lie to them.”
• House tells it like it is again. To a mother who is unhappy about getting her 10-year-old to use an asthma inhaler every day: “Oxygen is so important during those prepubescent years, don’t you think.”
• House has a sparky relationship with his female boss Dr Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) – but she gives as good as she gets. House – “As the philosopher Jagger once said, you can’t always get what you want.” Cuddy – “You’re right, you can’t always get what you want but, as it turns out, if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” In the end, she got what she needed – forcing him to actually come face-to-face with the sick.
• The CSI-style shots up noses and down throats to see what’s going on inside the patients’ bodies. We also enjoyed the tracheotomy, because we’re not wusses and don’t have to turn away from the squeamish bits.
• House’s team could be stereotypes but aren’t. Dr Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) is the black former juvenile delinquent but doesn’t reek of street; Dr Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) is the pretty woman but isn’t a glamourpuss; and Dr Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) is the pretty boy but isn’t the sort who only cares about getting the nurses moist.
• House only has one quirk – he loves watching the soap General Hospital. We can live with that. If this was a British show, he’d probably have a vintage car, a love of jazz, a penchant for antique porcelain etc
What was bad about it?
• They just couldn’t bloody resist putting in a schmaltzy scene near the end – cured teacher Rebecca got a visit from her kindergarten class who brought a “We’re happy you didn’t die” card.
• Jesse Spencer failed to get shirtless.