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Thursday, December 29, 2005

2005 Geekies: House, Best Show

OK, so I’m growing tired of procedurals. And really, who isn't? The CSI’s, the L&O’s, the spinoffs, the knockoffs. Sure, they still have their moments, but in the end, you know McCoy is gonna nail that murderer or Griss will solve another impossible case using epithelials, a matchstick, and his guile. Nothing new there.

I also despise medical shows. From the ham-handed emotional manipulations of ER to the cloying sentimentality of Chicago Hope, I’ve avoided them like a mysterious ailment TV doctors spend 44 minutes trying to cure, that is, while they’re not tending to plane crashes or saving drowning children from storm drains. (That’s drama!)

So it was pretty shocking to me when, a full year after its premiere, word of mouth got me hooked on a medical procedural, of all things. It was a drama as formulaic as it comes- victim gets The Big Sick in opening scene, superdocs spend the remaining five acts searching for The Big Cure. Big deal.

But this show takes the cliché one step further: its main character is an addict, a loner, a rebel without cause or care for anyone but himself. Straight out of page twelve of the Formulaic Drama Handbook, this ensures plenty of forced conflict, purportedly witty banter, and sexual tension.

Bottom line: this show should suck. And suck hard.

But this is House we’re talking about here. It’s brilliantly acted. Terrifically written. And witty enough to succeed despite its totally pedestrian format. Supporters Omar Epps, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Sean Leonard, Jesse Spencer, and Jennifer Morrison all play perfect foils (despite Morrison’s vests- why can’t she shed a layer once in a while?) to the brilliant Hugh Laurie, who somehow never lets his British accent slip through (a particular peeve of mine- Without a Trace, anyone?).

In short, this operation is a complete success. I wish House a long, healthy life- as healthy, at least, as the anemic ER, which should have been euthanized by NBC years ago.

Add it to the bang ‘em up potboiler Prison Break and the always entertaining (and ridiculous) 24, and Fox is really churning out some of the best drama on television. A bitter pill to swallow for the other webs, but one I’m more than happy to swallow. Stat.

Honorable Mention

Arrested Development:
Still brilliant. Still unwatched.

My Name Is Earl: On its way to Must See status.

The Office: Smart. Rich. And risky. Bravo, NBC.

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