House - Season 2 (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
HUGH Laurie continued to excel as the lovably grizzled Dr Gregory House in the second season of the acclaimed medical drama which surpassed the quality of the first in many ways.
Having firmly established both a formula for success and a strong set of characters, the show went on to test them in many ways over the course of 24 episodes, presenting them with many ethical and moral dilemmas, as well as medical ones.
Season opener, Acceptance was a classic case in point – featuring the combined stories of a Death Row prisoner (exceptionally well played by guest star LL Cool J) and a dying patient who were both vying for House’s attention. Greg opted to concentrate his attentions on the prisoner, much to Cameron’s frustration, and had to debate the merits of saving a convincted killer awaiting execution over a terminally ill woman.
Similarly, an episode in which a lesbian came to the rescue of her lover by donating an organ, unaware that her partner was looking to leave the relationship, succeeded in placing the doctors at odds with each other as they debated whether they should inform the donor of her lover’s plans.
There were times, of course, when the rigid format of the show threatened to make things feel overly repetitive but the writers did throw in the odd surprise and there were several insights into the characters’ personal lives that proved just as entertaining.
House, for instance, was given a potential love interest in the form of ex-wife, Stacy (Sela Ward), who eventually had to choose between her new husband and Greg, while his relationship with friend and co-worker Dr James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) was put to the test when they agreed to live together (after the latter separated from his wife).
The love aspect, in particular, showed the sensitive side of the doctor and the culmination of the love triangle was sensitively portrayed – and more than a little surprising.
On the professional front, Greg even had to keep his emotions and temper in check when black colleague Dr Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) was temporarily put in charge following an error with a patient – a storyline that placed extra strain on Foreman’s ability to cope with House’s constant game-playing.
The doctors, themselves, were also placed in harm’s way on several occasions with Foreman, in particular, flirting with death in a two-parter entitled Euphoria. The story in question began when a police officer was admitted to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head and uncontrollable laughter – a condition that spread to House’s colleague.
The second part provided House with one of the most rigorous examinations of his diagnostic skills and made him suitably grouchy, while Foreman’s colleagues were left to sort out their own mixed emotions towards him.
Such episodes showcased the programme’s ability to mix high emotional drama with interesting medical dilemmas.
The season finale, meanwhile, found House being shot by a vengeful patient and striving to save himself – albeit mentally, as part of a cunning plot device that succeeded in pulling the wool of viewers’ eyes for the duration. It also succeeded in throwing up a decent cliffhanger ending.
Just how long the creators of House can maintain such high standards remains to be seen, for there were the odd signs of wear and tear. The character of Dr Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), for example, remained a little too earnest and could do with some shaking up, while attempts to place House into the background of a couple of episodes merely highlighted the show’s inability to cope without him.
The structure of many episodes sometimes hindered the flow of proceedings, with some of the medical cases struggling to hold the interest as convincingly as others.
But with Laurie continuing to provide such a commanding lead presence, the flaws are easy to overlook as House remains one of television’s most charismatic and challenging characters. He remains the biggest reason for tuning in and his witty comments and moody temperament ensure that most episodes entertain at the highest level. So sit back and enjoy…