The Demise of Dr. Gregory House MD.

For a long time House has been hailed as the Sherlock Holmes of medicine and the show enjoyed not only exceptionally healthy viewing figures, but the respect of health workers and viewers alike. It had a great reputation based on light hearted humour and intriguing medical problems, and each episode offered intrigue, if not excitement. Unfortunately, House is dying, and unless something major is done about it, he won’t be saved.

Where did it all go wrong?

Let’s start with the shameless recycling of story lines and themes:

  • House & Cuddy
  • House & Vicodin
  • House & Happiness
  • Trust vs Cynicism
  • Science vs Faith
  • Foreman vs Ambition
  • Foreman vs Relationships (remember Thirteen)
  • Taub vs Relationships (wife and adultery)
  • Chase vs Relationships (cameron and girls in general)
  • Wilson vs Relationships (wait…I’m seeing a trend here…)

Every episode these days thinly disguises one of the above themes with an emotional or moral dilemma, but House isn’t didactic. Nothing is learned. The episodes conclude with more or less the same resolution every week: House is selfish, but has his character developed? The answer is always the same: no.

Further, House epitomises the classic and somewhat misogynistic stereotyping of men as ‘the head’ (rationale, logic), women as ‘the heart’ (love, honesty). We began with Cameron, then we had Amber (the only woman whose focus was logic and they branded her “psycho-bitch”, killed her off within a season and then brought her back as an irritating hallucination). Now we’ve got Masters, who is basically Cameron – I even saw a hint of love interest from Chase towards her back in episode fourteen (just prior to Cuddy’s award ceremony).

Recently they attempted to mix up the standard formula (which they’ve used for seven seasons) – patient falls ill, House and team try and fail to diagnose, in the final few minutes they work out what was wrong, treat it, and inevitably learn some cheesy moral lesson in the process (which they take nothing from and repeat the following week). But instead of true novelty, the unorthodox episodes we’ve been offered have been gimmicks. A couple of episodes scattered here and there as a brief respite from the usual slog, but the flights of fantasy, be they hallucinations, music videos, computer games, film references or 1950s dreams aren’t enough to convince this viewer that he’s watching something new, different and worth his continued time.

There have been plenty of chances for the writing team to spark some fresh story lines. Take for example what could have been a terrific ending or at least a fantastic twist to the story: House going in to the mental hospital at the end of season five. Within two episodes, season six was back to the traditional formula.

In this season alone there has been tonnes of room for potential new story arcs and development:

When Cuddy’s mother is admitted there was a definite chance to throw a spanner in the works between House and Cuddy. What if she had died?

When Cuddy falls ill, there was the opportunity to cause a major controversy and stir and take the season in a new direction by killing her off (or somewhat less drastically, leaving her incapable of running the hospital for a while). Instead, they used it as an opportunity to take things back to square one, House returns to Vicodin (apparently sourced from the same bathroom supply he’s had since ever) and the two separate, leaving the writing team with lots more emotional tension to regurgitate. After all, it’s not like they haven’t covered all this ground before…

Aside from all of the above problems, the script itself has deteriorated significantly since the early seasons. The wit has dried up, replaced by a dry sarcasm that is much less droll and ergo much less entertaining than before. If they are to continue this series, they really need an imaginative innovator on their writing staff, or at least someone who is prepared to move away from the same cast, story lines and episode structure. Failing that, not even House and his team of emotionally stunted caricatures will be able to save the show from a gruelling death.

The Social Network – a masterclass in film making.

Wow. I’m simply full of praise for the team behind The Social Network. Surely Hollywood, not to mention the premium TV channels that have shunned him in the past, are now clamouring for more scripts by Mr. Aaron Sorkin. I’ve written of my admiration for the guy in the past, and I’m sure I will again. His script is quick-fire, quicker witted and utterly compelling. It is saturated with Sorkin style; rapid conversations that are just too smart to be real, multiple topics and scattered trains of thought covered in dialogue scant sentences long, and of course, a sense of humour, all of which combines to create real momentum and audience involvement. (There is also reference to cocaine, a pivotal point for Sorkin due to his own habit earlier in his career. How much that storyline adheres to the truth I’d be interested to know…) At the cinema screening I sat through, the entire auditorium was totally attentive all the way through, an uncommon circumstance these days. And by these days I mean, days in which cinemas are largely attended by loud dickheads who eat and talk and annoy.

Fincher’s direction is top notch as per usual, great pacing, a broad contrast of ups and downs; that emotional rollercoaster people love to speak of was well an truly rolling and coasting.

Equally impressive is the casting and the cast. Even Timberlake, and I can see it’s not going to be long before ‘even’ won’t belong at the beginning of a sentence like this, gave a spot on performance as the infuriatingly slimy and cock sure, Sean Parker (Napster creator). Eisenberg was at his best. Sullen, sharp, unlikeable – a perfect Zuckerberg and last but not least, our beloved friendly neighbourhood Andrew Garfield, playing the hard done by Eduardo Saverin, in what might be his last interesting role for a while as he dons Spidey’s suit.

Except he’s not really last, because three more of The Social Networks greatest assets need a mention.

Well, actually, this is where it gets confusing, because two of those ‘assets’ are actually one person. Armie Hammer, whose acting career is just about to go boom, plays both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and does a hilarious job of it (in the best possible way). Meanwhile, their friend Divya Narendra is played by Max Minghella, another character with a relatively small role who really jumps off the screen and makes an impression.

Ultimately, I think that’s why The Social Network is going to be such a highly regarded film. It offers a spectacular example of film making on every level. Fincher’s on a role, I really hope Sorkin is too. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice but take a look anyway:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB95KLmpLR4[/youtube]

Good Evening, London

So as Cameron begins his rein in number 10, I thought I’d remind us of a fantastic speech from V for Vendetta, written by brothers Wachowski. Of course, we’re far from the scenario V’s talking about, but it’s not such a jump… In 8 – 10 years time when Cameron finally throws in the towel, you saw it here first.

Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.