Thursday, December 03, 2009

Closer to home..

I recently got hooked onto to the TV series 'House'. Bought five seasons of the interesting medical drama from a pirated DVD shop and began a marathon viewing of the shows back to back; surprised to find all of life's varicolored dilemmas - emotional, psychological and physiological being played out boldly in most of the episodes. And to top as the icing on this cakelicious experience was the fact that I could absolutely relate to the central character of Dr. Gregory House - cold, bitter, misanthropic, calculating, a terrifyingly insightful eccentric genius, an intellectual with a sarcastic, witty and caustic sense of humor, a narcotic - addict who likes to push the limits till it all borders dangerously on murder or suicide and inspite of all of this still remains endearing, respectable and above all humane.

And it shocks me...that I can find House relatable. Its like saying 'I am a nun and the Texas chainsaw massacre villain feels like a soulmate'. The metaphor is a tad over-exaggerated but the feeling isn't. What really gets to me about the character is that even though it is written in a way that is too smart for it to be a real person, the flaws and the progression of the character's psychology and emotional maturity are unflinching and hard cored. And this growth is somehow fulfilling. House is generally Mr. Smartest Pants for most of his screen time, the "I-know-what-goes-on-in-your-mind-at-all-times" person. And more often than not, he's right.

He's right about people, about diseases, about diagnosis and almost everything under the Sun. But then there's always someone, a colleague or a patient or a relative, who cuts through House's defensive wisdom and reveals his vulnerable, tortured inner self. The smugness, the cocksure, rude, maverick, arrogant, defiant exterior of the character vanishes the moment he confronts his personal demons and in place of that we see an unsure, self-loathing, troubled individual who has difficulties accepting himself and his life, who questions his own judgment and fights against his own survival instincts to end it, once and for all.

And it is in these well-timed moments that the show's brilliance shines through and so does Hugh Laurie, who embodies Dr. House with his amazing emotional range and impeccable American accent. He's the reason for the 'all the way up" in the 'two thumbs all the way up' review that I'd give to most of the episodes in a true Roger Ebert style.

Also the way he talks is really for example he has these dialogue Wimbledon matches with his best friend Dr.Wilson (who, by the way is modelled on Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes. Ah, by the way did I mention Dr. House is based on Sherlock Holmes? Holmes - House, see the connection?)

Wilson: "That smugness of yours really is an attractive quality."
House: "Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain.

Wilson: "She's hot, so she's a hooker? What kind of pathetic logic is that?"
House: "The envious, jealous, I-never-got-any-in-high-school kind of logic, hello! "

And then ofcourse there are those nitrous oxide suffused philosophies:

House: " take risks; sometimes patients die. But not taking risks causes more patients to die, so I guess my biggest problem is I've been cursed with the ability to do the math."

House: "There's an evolutionary imperative why we give a crap about our family and friends. And there's an evolutionary imperative why we don't give a crap about anybody else. If we loved all people indiscriminately, we couldn't function."

Apart from Dr. Wilson, there's hospital administrator, Dr. Cuddy, a feisty female match to House's witticisms. Also there's his team of fellow diagnosticians, who act as perfect foils to his character and somehow are unrealistically but needfully effective at witty dialogue delivery.

For most part of the series, House convinces you that he hardly cares about curing the patients, he only wants to cure the disease. He only wants to be proved right, wants to establish that he is somehow the wisest of the lot. He talks about his unconventionality as a doctor, refuses to wear a lab coat and sneers upon all the typical patient-doctor emotional bonds. And he does that very well. But then he also is unafraid to take a beating, go to jail, give up his medical licence just for a glimmer of hope based his wild diagnosis, which eventually may or may not cure the person. These contradictions to his character make it more mysterious and unpredictable, yet you never tend to dismiss it as fickle. And that is what makes the writing of this show truly impressive.

If you could overlook the fact that there is a barrage of really complicated medical jargon bombarded at you for most of the time at the speed rivaling that of light, I think everyone will find House really entertaining. More often than not, I find he says the kind of things that make you question the fallacy of your steadfast beliefs. I find to my amazement that he sometimes voices arguments and passes comments that I dare not speak out for the fear of hurting someone or being rude. The nasty tone, the hilarious gestures, the outright insults camouflaged as witty twits, the absolute disregard for authority and the non-existence of moral, respectful or even dignified behavior just makes for such compelling, vicarious entertainment that I am completely hooked on for hours... Plus there is a regular dosage of strong debates over issues of belief, faith, God, afterlife; its intriguing because both the sides of the argument are so strong that sometimes you root for the side opposite to your current ideology...and ofcourse there are those outrageous sexual and sexist innuendos...but never offensive, always 'guffaw'cious...And its fun for most parts..

Will soon be getting over with the five seasons I got...But this will go down as one of the best TV series I have seen in a really long time...Go Team House!!