Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Must-see TV that isn't mere hype

AKA, House comes through, just when I felt certain it should have been canceled at the end of last season...

For fans of Hugh Laurie and fans of House in general, the last couple of seasons have been frustrating.  They pulled the trigger on the House/Cuddy relationship that never needed to happen.  House is back on Vicodin, surprise surprise.  Certain members of the cast - Jesse Spencer and Robert Sean Leonard in particular - seem M.I.A. in terms of real character development as Amber Tamblyn's newbie hogs the attention (though more deservedly so in the last few episodes).  And meanwhile, the writing has, for quite some time, seemed phoned-in and flaccid - not the sort of thing one needs to hear about what is possibly the most formulaic show currently being aired.  When the episode structure is straight from a Screenwriting for Dummies book, the actual dialogue and plot cannot be.  A little part of me has longed for a mercy-kill for a while; euthanize House, please, FOX.

And then what do they do?  They bring back Olivia Wilde, who seems like she's a much better actress than when she left the show to do Cowboys and Aliens (or perhaps she had this built up, knowing how they'd bring her back), they ratchet up the funny with House's side plot, and they write a show about euthanasia.  The Kuttner episode ("Simple Explanation") was, until now, one of the episodes you could show people to say that television, for all its screwed-up tendencies, can say something significant (in that case, regarding an unexplained suicide).  But, "The Dig" probably has that one beat.

It's been a long time in coming, though, and the payoff here was somewhat unexpected: that 13 is still relatively healthy was probably not predicted by many when the character vanished in the season premiere.  But it's a solid payoff, given how carefully the character has been handled all along, and the moments of honesty and truth and difficulty that we see out of House & 13 as they come to terms with what's happened and what they have faced (and will face, apparently), are moments that send an important message to the viewer: that death with dignity is of utmost concern to the dying person, and, compared to that, the wishes and qualms and morals of anyone else are, at best, a lot of selfish bluster.  

There are few marks against this nation and this society that are more shameful, more hideous, and more cancerous than our continued allergy to choice, not just in this realm but in so many others.  One would sincerely hope that the greatly enjoyable efforts of House's cast and crew will not go to waste, that the cause of choice in dying will be advanced by this brave and genuine effort.

No comments:

Post a Comment


There may be aspects of this blog you find offensive - and I am not referring to the content. I strongly urge you to use Firefox to view any content herein, so you may take advantage of its functionality.

And there may be aspects of this blog you find offensive within the content. Well, too bad. Anyone who insists on behaving like a child in response to what I say will find their personal information posted. Expect to be treated precisely as well as you deserve.