The current gang* as of season five:
*Well, for the most part.
This is a tribute, not an introduction, so I'm addressing this to people who know and love the show. For those of you who haven't seen it and like what you see here, it's available on Netflix and (I presume) Blockbuster and elsewhere. Grab season one and settle in for a fun ride.
The clips on this page are designed to be watched in full-screen mode. Click on the little symbol on the video player's tool bar to open them up.
There are tons of forums and such around, just do a Google search. One of the better commercial sites is here, and one of the better fan sites is here. Some of the sites are fun in that they keep a running tally of who solved the case, how many 'breach of ethics' were in each show, memorable quotes, who did the background songs, etc.
A few things I've picked up:
- One thing I find interesting is that the actors aren't told in advance the direction the show will take, and what makes this especially intriguing is that this was true during the first nine weeks of season four as House weeded out the applicants on the show. The actors, themselves, didn't know whether they'd be 'fired' until the reading of the next script. That is, they were auditioning both on the show and for the show at the same time. The actors in their interviews said that it made them nervous as hell, but it was fun because it was so unique.
- The odd diseases are real diseases. What's surreal is the way these 1-in-a-million calamities show up week after week at the same hospital — but that's showbiz, folks. The various possibilities the gang considers actually are diseases whose symptoms fit the patient. The show has a whole medical staff doing research to 'flesh out' the story lines.
- It continually amazes me that Hugh Laurie is British. And it isn't his command of the American accent that so impresses me — it's the way he's picked up on our mannerisms and nuance. Sometimes it feels like he's the most American actor on the show.
Play Me A Tune, Piano Man
Let's start with the music. Apart from being a great TV show, it also has superb taste in contemporary songs. Here are a few choice moments.
Alanis Morissette performing Not As We:
In the show, House has a patient who electrocutes himself with a knife in a wall outlet in order to replay a state of enlightenment he attained in a near-death electrical accident a few days before. It gets House to thinking of going to the edge, himself, perhaps to attain an insight as to whether or not an afterlife exists. There's also a shot of Foreman at his new job where he behaves like his former mentor — putting the patient ahead of the rules — and ends up saving the patient's life and getting fired as a result.
Iron & Wine performing Passing Afternoon:
Update note: I'm including the episode the following comes from at the bottom of the page, so don't watch it if you're planning on watching the full episode.
This is the final few minutes of season four. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it would take about ten pages to explain the significance behind each scene in this clip, but suffice to say that they all linger from touchingly poignant to profoundly sad. And that's particularly true in hindsight. The only one who looks outright happy is the one who later takes his own life.
And there are two things in particular that are significant about this clip:
- If there was an award for 'Most Meaningful Sentence Of The Season', the sentence I'd give it to wasn't even composed of words. Granted, if you're not a fan of the show it won't mean much, but Cuddy's intake of breath after House blinks his eyes is truly a sublime moment in both scriptwriting and acting.
- And I wonder if fans of the show truly appreciate what a great gift it was they gave us with that last, lingering shot of Amber radiating a beauty heretofore unseen. It would have been so easy to just move on and not care about the 'lasting images' in our minds, leaving us with that picture of a twisted and dying Amber forevermore. So to give us that last breathtaking shot fading away into the purity of white, erasing the ugliness that had gone before, was something that should be both noted and appreciated.
Jeff Buckley performing Hallelujah:
A story of death, with Foreman disliking a death row inmate, now a patient, until House finds a physical reason for his murderous rages. Now Foreman is considering defending the man in court. In the meantime, Cameron hasn't been able to bring herself to tell a patient she's dying from lung cancer. The 'five stages of death' on the whiteboard have been followed by Cameron throughout the show, rather than the patient.
And while I'm sure the show gets lauded for its song selection, a hat tip should also be handed to the crew and the special effects they delicately employ. In this scene, listen to the echo effect right as House peels the card off the window. Very nicely done.
By the way, as you probably know, there's a 'Goofs' section on the IMDb where people note goofs in the movies. It's to note that goofs take place in TV Land, as well. In that last clip, watch the bottom card of the deck carefully. It actually changes four times. Twice right at the beginning, then right before and after House draws the card.
And, speaking of special audio effects, most of the opening scenes of the show have a little audio hype as they shift into the main theme song, but I thought this one was extra special. Close your eyes and just concentrate on the sound:
And here's a fun example of the background music leading us astray as the somber tone makes us believe House's reaction is real:
Just Doing The Job That Needs Doing
Apart from the terrific inside-the-body animations the show uses, there's not much need for special effects. In this episode, however, where the patient is at the South Pole, they really outdid themselves. When the scene first opens, you're thinking, "Oh, it's just a model." But then, as you get nearer, you start thinking, "Well, maybe it's a real wind farm, but not actually at the South Pole."
And, at that point, you'd probably be correct. It seems fairly apparent that it's a real helicopter landing at some wind farm, maybe somewhere in Texas on a wintery, snowy day.
And, just to reinforce how real it is, watch the camerawork closely as it nears the windmill blades.
Is this cameraman brave, or what?
Is It Still Called 'Panning'?
Great special effects here. House is interviewing a patient whose only form of communication is beeping 'yes' or 'no' through a computer:
Natural Drinking Buddies (in another lifetime)
I thought the banter between Mark and House was loads of fun. Here are three scenes of them together:
Exit question: At the very beginning of the clip, in the restaurant, we note there aren't any candles in view, nor does House smoke. So, where does someone come up with a wooden kitchen match in the middle of a restaurant?
The Politics of 'House'
Incredibly, unlike a show such as 'Boston Legal', which weaves a handful of Democratic Talking Points into every single episode, 'House' tends to stay out of the political spotlight. The only actor on the show who exercises any sort of judgment at all is House, himself, and he pretty much mocks everything and everybody — as befits his character.
In principle, though, House appears to be an enigma:
- In regards to global warming, House is a conservative. He's made a number of derogatory remarks about it.
- In regards to abortion, he's a big fan and falls squarely in the liberal camp.
- In regards to capital punishment, while his only comment on the show where he saved the life of the death row inmate was "Everyone has an opinion", one gets the feeling he's all for it, putting him back in the conservative camp.
- When it comes to religion, there's no bigger atheist on the planet than House, which bounces him squarely back to the liberal side.
- In regards to immigration, if memory serves he's made one comment on the subject and it was decidedly negative, so that pushes him back the other direction.
- And the list goes on.
I would hesitate to slap a label on him, but he certainly comes across as the crusty, staunch conservative, albeit without the moral grounding. As a doctor, though, having seen life and death all around him for years, one would expect him to have something of a cavalier attitude toward death. So perhaps his views regarding abortion and capital punishment have more to do with pragmatism than ideology, theology or principle.
In regards to Chase, Cameron and Foreman, they've said very little that could be construed as 'political commentary', except for one remarkably revealing scene.
In my opinion, one of the most disturbing aspects of modern society is the way it's sexualized so many innocent, innocuous events. A cancer-ridden 9-year-old girl wants one little kiss before she possibly dies, just to know what it feels like, and just watch the reactions of Foreman and (particularly) Cameron when Chase delivers the news that he complied:
What a scandal! Cameron was shocked, she'll tell you, shocked! And, as an example of this leap we're being taught to make, please note this exchange:
Chase: She asked me to kiss her.
House: I rest my case [that she's mentally unbalanced]. A regular 9-year-old girl does not have sex on the brain, not when a doctor's threading a catheter through her vein.
An innocent 9-year-old girl merely wants a kiss and the crusty old prude immediately assumes it's sexual in nature? That's the direction we're being pushed; where even a hug or a kiss is automatically deemed sexual, and all males are deemed predatory unless immediately proven otherwise.
Well, even though Dr. Buttwipe ignored Chase's opinion and put the poor thing through a humiliating rape test, the Great Hobbled One did come up with a miracle cure at the end and the day was saved:
The background song is In The Deep by Bird York.
And did you see her kiss Chase's neck ever so gently? I'm surprised Foreman and Cameron didn't pin him to the ground and call for the Rape Squad. The camera didn't show it, but I have to imagine Cameron was again holding her hands to her mouth, fighting back the tears of outrage and shame over the depths to which humanity had sunk. "When I'm queen," she's thinking to herself, "I'm going to make sure that scum like this are locked away permanently! Any male who even looks at a female other than his wife will be immediately imprisoned under my benevolent and compassionate rule!"
But I stray.
Overall, politically, I'd have to — and it stuns me to say this about a Hollywood product — admit that the show is relatively neutral. Apparently, David Shore, the originator and producer, has discovered one of the Great Secrets of Life™ that so few producers have grasped:
If you aren't blatantly ideological, you can actually appeal to everybody!
Such a concept! The mind reels!
And it's a secret many have yet to learn, like the producers of Lie to Me. I was over at a friend's house a few years ago and caught part of 'Boston Legal', thought it was great and was planning on doing the Netflix thing and giving it a run, but I just couldn't take the incessant liberal drool emanating from my speakers every 10 minutes. As I said, it's like the writers were ticking off a list of Democratic Talking Points. "War in Iraq is bad — check!" "Global warming will kill us any minute — check!" "President Bush is an imbecilic madman — double-check!"
Kudos to David Shore for stepping outside the Hollywood box.
Wilson Has His Moments
Most reviews tend to use the word 'opposites' when describing House and Wilson, but I don't see it that way.
I prefer the word askew.
Here's a perfect example of their quirky, askew friendship:
And here they are playing cards with boss lady Dr. Lisa Cuddy:
It's All In The Cheekbones
A 'Gotcha' Of A Most Embarrassing Sort
Admittedly, there haven't been many hot babes as patients on the show.
One, though, certainly springs to mind.
Watch it… if you dare!
(The next time I go on a date, I'm checking
her his its their everybody's DNA first!)
Fool Me Once… Dept.
Jeez, when it comes to hot babes and the writers pulling a fast one on us, you'd think we'd learn!
Fave Personal Moment
The Florida Keys, where I lived for ten years, actually are in the official Tropical Zone.
The following clip is near the end of the show. The symptoms he's exhibited throughout the previous hour have mimicked a type of tropical disease, but since he'd stated that he'd never been to the tropics, they were dismissed while they went off in a dozen different directions.
Then they quizzed him again.
I have three full-length features for your viewing pleasure.
One of everybody's favorite styles are the shows that introduce just a small element of fantasy. Not enough to actually distract from the main plot, but enough to make it fun.
The most recent one was from season 7, Bombshells. In it, Cuddy thinks she might die. Her contract with Fox Network, however, extended through season 8, so we knew she'd pull through.
While I don't think the whole episode is worthy of posting, the dream sequences were certainly a kick, so here they are:
Of this genre, two really stood out. Named — perhaps coincidentally — Two Stories and Three Stories.
From season 1, here's Three Stories:
And from season 7, probably my second-favorite episode, Two Stories:
To finish up this tribute, here's what I presume is what many fans consider to be the greatest episode of all, the two-part House's Head and Wilson's Heart.
One last time, gang, take us away.