Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Interesting characters

So, we've been talking a lot about TV lately. I guess it's the season. Although now with the writers' strike... We may be losing new TV episodes pretty soon.

Watching House last night, I realized that Molly's right. That show has totally redeemed itself as a series this year. I spent some time (15 seconds) trying to figure out why. Here's what I've come up with so far.

House is great because of the characters. Sure, there's an interesting medical question each week and structuring the episode like a mystery/crime show instead of more traditional medical shows is creative and unique, but the real thing that makes this show is the characters.

Gregory House on his own is an interesting enough character, and Laurie a good enough actor, to carry this show through the first season and maybe part way through the second. He's an edgy character. In fact, I read an interview with Laurie saying the show didn't have a title when he received the scenes for his audition tape. (He auditioned remotely while filming that plane lost in the desert movie... Flight of the Phoenix?) Anyway, after reading his character's scenes, he assumed the show was about the Wilson character and he was reading for the crusty friend part.

But the show's creators didn't stop at a great main character. Cuddy is an interesting contradictory complex character and so is Wilson.

But they didn't stop there. They parceled out information about these 3 main characters slowly over the 2 seasons. Okay, we learned most of the juicy stuff about House in the first season -- but it was very juicy and extremely well delivered -- and they mostly just posed questions about Cuddy and Wilson as well as Cameron and Chase and Foreman in the first season, so we were still interested in watching the second season even though we knew what happened to House's leg and his marriage and why Cuddy puts up with him (guilt) and other juicy tidbits that we'd been fed in the first season.

But House started to bore me last season. House's quips weren't enough to get me through and after watching the first several episodes of this year I think I know why it's working for me again. I was bored of the secondary characters last year. The mystery was all gone. There was no where new to take them without getting silly. We knew Cameron had "issues". We knew she loved House, but that the two would never get together. We knew Foreman was the smartest but had trust issues and issues with authority etc. And we knew Chase had great hair. (Sorry... but pretty as he is, he was always the boring one for me.) Even the Chase/Cameron thing, which was interesting for a while because of the gender reversal -- her using him for sex -- started to be dull for me by the end of last season. (And I know I'm not doing these 3 characters justice here. Tons of stuff was revealed about these characters over the first few seasons and that's what made them interesting.)

So, they've finished revealing all the backstory for Chase/Cameron/Foreman. What did they do? Do they have one abducted by aliens? Marry a criminal? Paralyzed in an accident? Lose an arm? (All typicial of plot twists in most medical dramas.) No, they take them (at least temporarily) out of the picture and introduced a bunch of new characters. And they didn't dump too much information about any one of these new characters, either. The result, we have new character mysteries to keep us tuning in from week to week. More questions we want answered, like: What's up with 13? Why is cut throat bitch such a cut throat bitch? How far can House really push the black mormon guy before he snaps, and where's his wife? Which ones will last? And even having the character I most wanted to see survive get fired this week after he (sob) poisoned a patient to fake polio so that he could get attention and money for medical studies? Pretty out there, but interesting. Even though I was hoping they'd grow that character. I know from Huff -- that actor can do interesting things... I'll miss him. (Now, watch... all the interns will be fired next week and I'll never get my burning questions answered... But my point is I have the questions, so I'm interested in the people.)

But the best thing about last week was the adding of the new Michael Michele character. A woman strong enough to stand up to House. And with a military background so she's used to order and rules... And the sexual chemistry between those two? Yowsa. And that she gave back as good as she took?
Her: "I can kill a man with my thumb."
Him: "I was still making sexual innuendos."
Her: "So was I."
And only House could deliver a line like "I have a position open on my penis" and have it be funny instead of revolting. Okay, it was a little revolting. But I was laughing so hard I didn't care.

I am optimistic about this show again. They finally seem to have remembered their show relies not on silly plot developments like a cop out for revenge after having a thermometer stuck up his butt, but on keeping us fascinated about learning more about complex characters and seeing them interact with each other.


Molly O'Keefe said...

I'm so with you Maureen! Loved that show last night -- Excellent addition of Michele what's her name! Loved the chemistry - loved how totally thrown he was when she came back and said I'm going to take you up on your offer and he thought she was talking about the sex. Loved it.

The Black Mormon guy is a single father -- did you miss that episode? I really like him. And I really like how House is weeding all the interns - or how they are weeding themselves. Good show - and it's committing both ways -- to the medical drama and to the character drama. They've never let up on House's character. And they keep the medical mysteries coming.

Anonymous said...

I'm only OK with the addition of the new doctor. It seems almost recycled, a mix of his relationship with Cuddy and his previous female under doc.

I also like the show best when it's House, Cuddy and Wilson interacting.

But we'll see. This season is a huge improvement over last season.

But I still think they should end it gracefully.. this season.

Maureen McGowan said...

I hear what you're saying about the new character, Sinead. I was actually more excited when I thought she wasn't going to join the team. I thought, okay, so every fourth episode he'll consult on some cool CIA case. That might add some spice and intrigue to the show... And maybe a little affair Cuddy can get jealous about...

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