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Series of the Week: House M.D.

“You can think I'm wrong, but that's no reason to quit thinking.”
House, originally titled House, M.D., is a critically-acclaimed American medical drama television series created by David Shore and executive produced by Shore and film director Bryan Singer. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning medical drama debuted on the FOX Network on 16 November 2004. The series is currently the most watched program on FOX.
House stars British actor Hugh Laurie as the American title character, a role for which he received the 2006 and 2007 Golden Globe Awards and 2007 Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor in a Drama. In February 2007, House was renewed for a fourth season, which premiered on September 25, 2007 in the United States and Canada.Gregory House is a maverick medical genius, who heads a team of young diagnosticians at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (based directly on the Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, the teaching hospital affiliated with Yale University) in New Jersey. Most episodes start with a cold open somewhere outside the hospital, showing the events leading to the onset of symptoms for that week's main patient. The episode follows the team in their attempts to diagnose the illness.
The team arrives at diagnoses using the Socratic method and differential diagnosis, with House guiding the deliberations. House often discounts the information and opinions from his underlings, pointing out that their contributions have missed various relevant factors. The patient is usually misdiagnosed two or three times over the course of each episode, often with sarcoidosis, lupus, cancer, or an infection, and treated with medications appropriate to those diagnoses that cause further complications. Often the ailment cannot be easily deduced because the patient has lied about symptoms and circumstances. House frequently mutters, "Everybody lies," or proclaims during the team's deliberations: "The patient is lying," or "The symptoms never lie." Even when not stated explicitly, this assumption guides House's decisions and diagnoses.House's begrudging fulfillment of his mandatory walk-in clinic duty is a recurring subplot on the show. During clinic duty, House confounds patients with an eccentric bedside manner and unorthodox treatments, but impresses them with rapid and accurate diagnoses after seemingly not paying attention. He often plays video games on either his PSP or his GBA SP while patients or one of his colleagues talk to him, and in one episode House diagnoses five patients in the waiting room in under a minute on his way out of the clinic. Realizations made during some of the simple problems House faces in the clinic often help him solve the main case of the episode - ironic, because he claims to hate working in the clinic.
Episodes frequently feature the unusual practice of entering a patient's house with or without the owner's permission in order to search for clues that might suggest a certain pathology. The creator, David Shore, originally intended for the show to be a CSI-type show where the "germs were the suspects," but has since shifted much of the focus to the characters rather than concentrating solely on the environment.A running joke in the series is that Lupus is suggested as a cause of the patient's symptoms in many episodes, although invariably this is quickly dismissed. In one episode, House produces some of his secret Vicodin stash from inside a hollowed-out Lupus textbook; by way of explanation, he says, "It's never lupus." Lupus is one of the medical conditions known as The Great Imitator, because it can present with a wide variety of symptoms.
Another large portion of the plot centers around House's abuse of Vicodin and other drugs to manage pain stemming from an infarction in his quadriceps muscle some years prior which causes him to walk with a cane (ironically, House was unable to diagnose his own infarction before it damaged his leg). The pain and drug abuse act to increase many of his more objectionable character traits while not impairing his medical acumen, which leads him to often self-medicate. Overall, House is thus presented as a classic flawed hero.
House is in many respects a medical Sherlock Holmes. This resemblance is evident in various large elements of the series' plot. House, like Holmes, often relies (particularly in his clinic cases) on apparent minutiae to make accurate snap judgments about his subject's lives. He also displays a keen interest in individual psychology as a piece of his larger analytic method. House is addicted to Vicodin, but he can get along without it when the case is interesting; similarly, Holmes used cocaine out of boredom when he did not have a good case. Both play a musical instrument: House plays the piano and the guitar, Holmes plays the violin. These thematic parallels are confirmed, and hammered home, by various otherwise-trivial plot details. For example, Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street, and House's street address, as shown in "Hunting" Season 2 Episode 7, is also 221B. Moreover, the name "House" itself can be read as a pun on "Holmes" ("homes") and the name of House's friend James Wilson is a direct reference to Holmes' side-kick John Watson. Another confirmation is in House's encounter with a crazed gunman credited as "Moriarty" - the same name as Sherlock's nemesis… 10/10


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