This week has been devoted to planning which, as regular readers of the blog will know, is not one of my favourite pastimes, along with training and rising early. Planning also starts, for some godforsaken reason, at 8 am. I am always late, by about 20-30 minutes. I always leave early, by about 3-4 hours -- i.e. I skive off, so I can do some of the research and writing I'm meant to do to validate my being employed. As part of this superdiligent skiving off, I have been avoiding the blogosphere till the evening (hence lack of comments from moi lately).
Anyway, I digress somewhat boringly... I'm getting a little scared about being too publicly critical about Bumbledore, in case someone reads these posts and puts two and two together. So you're being saved another anti-planning tirade here (tho if you really must know, there was an earnest conversation about coloured dots on Monday morning and, so far, no butcher's paper has been involved).
I thought instead that I would devote a blogpost to the television character (or show of same name) most likely to eschew planning and all such bureaucratic leisure pursuits: House. I recently watched pretty well all of series one of House on DVD. (I say 'pretty well all', because disc 3 was scratched beyond repair.) I got into the House-DVD watching because (1) it's taking a bloody long time for season 5 of 6FU to wend its way across the Pacific towards me and (2) my appetite for House was whetted by watching a slab of season 2 on the plane to LA in which some of the stuff about House's relationship with his ex-wife and the bambi-girl's affection for him was explained. (Hmm, interesting how much the Pacific Ocean is involved in my rationale here.)
You see the thing is (sorry, this post is very stream-of-consciousness and boring so far; it will pick up soon) one can never rely on Imparja TV to show a complete television series (Idol is less of an ask). A show will suddenly appear on Thursday night at 9.30 pm, shift without warning to Tuesday at 8.30 pm then disappear without trace. Which makes watching some of the more intelligent HBO dramas problematic, so one really has to borrow whole series from the DVD shop. Not that House is particularly intellectually stretching; it was just nice to be filled in on the stuff with the bambi-girl.
I wrote about the spate of medical dramas on TV about a year ago: you can read this post here (it's not bad). I didn't say a lot about the character of House himself, other than that it seemed almost inconceivable that Hugh Laurie had reincarnated himself in this way (tho I think Who Weekly listing him as one of the Sexiest People of 2005 was beyond the call of duty).
Much of the appeal of House, as he's played by Hugh Laurie, lies in his anti-authoritarian behaviour, tho he himself is an authority of sorts. House is that kinda guy that many of us would like to be: the one who says exactly what he thinks and gets away with it (sort of like Borat with brains). He's a maverick, an expert in his own area, who's pitted against the forces of increasing bureaucratisation and rationalisation, represented by Vogler (sic?), the hospital benefactor, and to a lesser extent, Dr Cuddy (sic?). Like many of us, he struggles with the meaningless trivia that has become part of our working lives through greater rationalisation (such as having to work in the Day Clinic -- huh! A picnic compared to Bumbledore). House would certainly never have any truck with butcher's paper or coloured dots (tho he does use a whiteboard). House often cuts things fine with the authorities but at the end of the day, he eludes them with brains and rat cunning.
I think the character of House can be seen in the tradition of American rugged individualist who eschew forms of institutionalisation, state-ism and mom-ism, like Jack Nicholson's character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (whom I couldn't stand; I was always on Nurse Ratshit's side). But there's a streak of conservatism in the whole American self-made individualist thing. PC-ism is part of the mom-ism House rejects (well, I do myself a little. In its more tiresome, non-ironic forms.) While House stands against corrupt benefactors and drug companies, his base value is himself and his rationality. Does he really care, for instance, about his patients or the common good -- and does it matter, as long as his diagnosis is right?
But House really owes more to the detective-fiction tradition, particularly Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As I noted in my earlier post on medical dramas, each episode of House follows a clue-puzzle format: making a diagnosis parallels solving a crime. I'm not sure when the cross-over occurred between crime and medical dramas occurred, and I'm sure there are other examples (including docos), tho I suspect it might have been facilitated by clue-puzzle style forensic dramas such as Silent Witness. (Interestingly, in some of the bumph accompanying the DVDs, I think the makers of CSI were also said to be involved in producing House.)
House is also a contemporary Sherlock Holmes -- he shares certain characteristics with the arch-sleuth and the modern detective more generally. Like Holmes, the rational is his dominant mode of knowing, at the expense of more emotional, relational modalities. He's also an isolated figure, apparently unable to sustain relationships. And like Holmes, he has a drug abuse issue -- or a 'pain management problem', as he calls it. Some of House's best diagnoses are supposed to occur while he's cruising on Vicodin (sic?).
House is a noticeably wounded figure -- his gammy leg suggests his castratedness & outsider status to the phallic order -- he’s in it, but not of it. If you're not into psychoanalysis, his leg might simply suggest his emotional woundedness & otherness. (His former wife, we learn late in the first series, is directly responsible for this castration, indeed, while he was unconscious and not able to control the situation with his mental powers.) As such, he's like many an isolated, contemporary professional who's poured himself into work at the expense of family, etc.
Yes. So I like House, because I suspect he would scorn planning and other work-related -'ing's. That said, I still find some aspects of this program less than convincing, like the general amateur sleuthing and cat-digging up his team do (far more suited to CSI, etc). And some of the performances: can we really believe that Dr Chase (the Australian guy) and the bambi-girl are doctors? I can believe that the bambi-girl might fall for him tho because that's the kind of thing you do in your twenties: think that crazy people are the ones worth going for.
And -- trivia question -- why has Cynthia Nixon been a patient in so many of these dramas? So far I've seen her in Nip and Tuck, ER and House.
And why is House called House? (Is anyone really called House?) Because he's a little person against the system -- a house compared to a hospital ?
I'm now over House and onto The Sopranos: Grey's Anatomy, Desparate Housewives await me. I don't have anything much to say about the Sopranos yet except that it's a clever idea but I don't enjoy the family as much as the one in 6FU.
Better go to bed: planning at 0800 hours.