House, M.D.: Season Five
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House, M.D.: Season Five

Medical shows on television traditionally depicted Doctors who fell into one of two descriptions; young and head strong or more mature and kindly. The former was represented by Dr. Kildare while a representative of the later would be Marcus Welby. In either case the doctor in the leading role is dedicated to the care of his patient and true to that portion of his sacred oath that first and foremost do no harm. If any of these old school doctors ever got an opportunity to watch Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) at work they just might keel over in dismay at what has happened to their most honorable of professions. You see Dr. House is nothing like any television ever previously depicted. House is a curmudgeon, a misanthrope and generally a rather nasty and abrasive person. If you wonder how a man that is so unlikeable can keep let alone obtain a staff position in any reputable hospital the answer is simple, at least for a fictional television series, the man is a genius; the leading diagnostician in the world. His skills are unparalleled in his ability to rationalize what disorder a patient using the most esoteric symptoms imaginable. His skills are never really called into doubt. What most people, including his boss Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), Dean of Medicine and hospital administrator, question is his variant of the crime series focusing on forensic investigative technology. House is a modern doctor who relies on the most advanced diagnostics available. Each episode he calls out to his ever present assistants for MRI, PET scan, CAT scan and any other test that requires big expensive machines with great looking flashing lights. One thing that rises far above any recent medical drama is the sheer quality of this production. The acting is incredible, the writing excellent and the direction is among the best on television. One of my best friends is a nurse and readily points out no matter how good a doctor may be ay what he does no hospital would every put up with the slightest portion of what House pulls on a daily basis. The hospital Lawyers would be in intensive cardiac care after one day following him.

A major aspect of Houses’ process in referred to the differential diagnosis. Here the various symptoms are listed in hopes of discovering a disease or disorder that will account for them all. For this house surrounds him with a team of other physicians in a type of Socratic methodology. In the previous season his original team had all left or have been fired requiring House to pretty much rebuild from the ground floor. The only member of the original tam left is neurologist Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) who Dr, Cuddy insisted on to keep an eye on house. The new team consists of former plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), sports medicine specialist Dr. Lawrence Kutner and Dr. Remy Hadley (Olivia Wilde), an interest who prefers to go by the name ‘Thirteen’. Like their predecessor they realize that House enjoys tormenting them but they are still able to learn, more from him than they would anywhere else. Houses’ best and pretty much only friend is the chief of oncology James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard). He is the only one that House would trust or confide in on a personal level.

At the end of last season one of the rejected applicants for the new team, Amber Volakis (Anne Dudek) dies in a bus accident after trying to bring a drunken Houses out of a bar. Although she didn’t make the cut with the team she was always around as she was living with Wilson. Her death hit everybody extremely hard especially Wilson who left his position at the hospital and Houses’ friendship for awhile. Upset the team becomes even more upset with the unexpected suicide of Kutner. Situations become extremely tangled when Forman and thirteen develop a relationship. She is diagnosed with Huntington’s disease Forman takes on administering a research program relating to the disorder. He breaks the protocol and violates ethnics to make sure thirteen got the medicine being tested. Two members of the original team, Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) become engaged infusing one upbeat plot in an otherwise strange, dark season. The writers really ramped up the drama this season. House had to undergo a dangerous procedure to help him remember the bus crash and it may have affected the one thing he cares about; his rational mind. He has begun to have hallucinations of Amber, usually in the context of her helping with a diagnosis. House soon begins to question his own sanity especially when ‘her’ advice almost kills Chase. House tries to diagnosis himself and comes to the conclusion it is due to his addiction to Vicodin. At the end of the season House commits himself to a psychiatric hospital.

This is a darker season than any previous one. While there is still the mystery aliment of the week the primary focus is on the interpersonal relationships of the team members and the gradual erosion of Hours’ massive ego initially having him doubt his own abilities and ultimately surrendering in admitting he needs help. This is a transitional season setting up for a major change coming up.

Posted 08/30/09

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