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Bringing down the House

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hit Show Climbs Higher

On Tuesday night, all of your maladies will be cured. All those itchy little voices in your head telling you to always say nice things, always be polite, and lie when the truth is mean will be driven out.

“House” is coming home.

Gregory House returns to his primetime throne Sept. 25 as the king of truth – just not the truth you always like to hear. This paragon of the phrase “the truth hurts” will once again grace television screens as he solves the most unusual medical cases and cures his patients against all odds.

House brings back Tuesday’s glory with his classic biting wit and ability to say everything you would if you were a) quick enough to think of it and b) gutsy enough to say it out loud.

“House” has come a long way. Three seasons ago “House, M.D.” premiered to a healthy audience and quickly began bringing in awards, everything from Emmys to Golden Globes (two of which went straight to Hugh Laurie for Best Actor in a Drama Series). The show has also received a Humanitas award, a Screen Actors Guild award and the Peabody award for Best Electronic Media.

Throughout the next two seasons the ratings began to climb, and last season Gregory House managed to take down Meredith Grey of “Grey’s Anatomy” in the weekly Nielsen ratings. “House, M.D.” is also the first show to challenge Fox’s other mega-hit, “American Idol.”

Executive producer Katie Jacobs and creator David Shore have brought “House” full circle. Tonight the world will find out how House deals with being “Alone,” the title of the premier episode. Earlier this summer Jacobs went to Fox and asked if they could “play survivor” on “House” in order to find his new team of doctors.

The plan is to start with 40 prospective employees and have House narrow them down as the season continues. Rumor has it that one of the surviving M.D.’s will be Kal Penn of Harold & Kumar fame. But whatever happens, it won’t be conventional, that’s for sure. Let’s just hope these doctors can handle “House”‘s House of Pain.

House’s complex background sets stage for drama

If you are a newcomer to the world of “House,” you might want to take the time to read this background based on the first three seasons. It will leave you fully prepared to enjoy the next season.

Gregory House is a diagnostician with a specialty in infectious diseases. He works at Princeton Plainsboro Hospital under the ever-watchful eyes of Dr. Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine. She manages to put up with House’s unorthodox methods (and ever-present insults about her ever-plunging neckline).

House’s best friend is Dr. James Wilson, an oncologist whose office is next door to House’s. Wilson is around to foil House, point out his flaws and be his conscience. Wilson is probably the only person House will listen to. (It’s a known fact that the series attempts to mirror Sherlock Holmes – House/Holmes, Wilson/Watson.)

A number of years ago House had an infarction in his right thigh. If it happens in your heart, it’s a heart attack; in your brain, it’s a stroke; and in the muscle, it’s an infarction. His doctors wanted to remove the leg but House refused. Instead, he insisted they cut off the muscle and let it die. He still has his leg, but it’s basically immobile. That’s why he walks with a cane.

House is also addicted to Vicodin. In his words, “If I’m in a butt load of pain, I need a butt load of pills.”

For the past three seasons House has had three doctors working for him – Dr. Eric Foreman (neurologist), Dr. Robert Chase (intensive care), and Dr. Alison Cameron (pathologist). They managed to survive under House’s rule and even learned from him as they were forced to do his bidding and challenge his decisions.

Cameron had a crush on House in the first season, but after she forced him to go on a date with her that quickly dissolved. During the last season Chase developed a crush on Cameron that was finally requited in the season finale.

At the end of last season, Foreman quit because he did not want to turn into House. Instead of talking to Foreman and asking him to stay (as Wilson was suggesting) House turned around and fired Chase, saying that Chase had learned all he could. In the last 30 seconds of the finale Cameron handed House her letter of resignation.

The team disbanded and left House completely on his own.

It remains to be seen where this next season will go, but if it is anything like the previous installments of “House,” it is sure to be a dramatic and enjoyable ride.

Falling in love with Hugh

Hugh Laurie is television’s most respected British comedian. Or at least, that’s how he started. Laurie began cracking jokes in college while he attended Cambridge. He was president of the undergraduate comedy team the Footlights Club with Emma Thompson, who was vice president. After Cambridge he began to work with Steven Fry, who became his true comedy partner.

“A Bit of Fry and Laurie” is classic British comedy. This sketch show began in the 80s and featured Fry and Laurie protraying a myriad of characters. The jokes are still good – the DVD’s have recently been released and are selling well. I rented Season One this summer, and, while watching it one night, turned around to find my entire family laughing out loud on the couch. Think “Monty Python” meets “Saturday Night Live.”

Fry and Laurie also did a series called “Jeeves and Wooster” which was big in Britain. Laurie’s most well known work in America is probably his role in the “Blackadder” series, with Rowan Atkinson (who is currently starring in the movie “Mr. Bean’s Holiday”).

Aside from British humor, Laurie has appeared in many bit-roles in American films. He was Jasper in “101 Dalmations” with Glenn Close and played the dad in “Stuart Little.” In 2004 he starred with Dennis Quaid in “Flight of the Phoenix.” While stranded in the desert filming on location for that movie, he recorded an audition tape for a new American TV show slated to be called “Medical Mysteries.” Laurie had to film the tape unshaven (like his Phoenix character) and in a bathroom because it was the only place that had good lighting.

When Brian Singer, producer of the new show, saw Laurie’s cranky character, he supposedly got out of his seat and went close to the TV andproclaimed Laurie to be the real American man he was looking for. It was only later that Singer found out that Laurie is, in fact, British. He was hired anyway.

Three seasons of success later, Laurie hasn’t let anything go to his head. Though he has single-handedly led “House, M.D.” to its current status in the ratings, Laurie acts like it’s a fluke, like he couldn’t possibly be that good. He shared his woes to Jay Leno last week when he admitted, “As far as I can remember in my life I have never asked a girl to dance, I have never asked a girl out and I have never had a party.”

Besides his ability to ignore his own accomplishments, Laurie is also an expert musician. He is currently the keyboardist in Band From TV, made up of actors from various shows such as “Heroes.” All of the proceeds from their gigs go to charity. Their new rendition of “Can’t Always Get What You Want” features Laurie on vocals and is on the recently-released “House” soundtrack.