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Wednesday, 2.15.06: Addicted to House

My mom introduced me to the Fox series "House." It stars British actor Hugh Laurie as the cranky, Vicodin-addicted physician who heads a diagnostic team at a prestigious university hospital. I got hooked on it and caught up on Season One via DVD. Season Two is unfolding erratically on Fox's shifting schedule.

In plot, it's similar to CSI: puzzles are solved by a team of dedicated smart people. But in theme, it couldn't be more different.

On CSI, procedure is your friend. There will be hell to pay if you don't follow the correct protocol for collecting, documenting, and analyzing evidence. Being comfortable with standard operating procedure frees your mind to take those intuitive leaps to nail the answer. Gil Grissom is fond of telling his staff to let the evidence lead the way. Emotions occasionally bubble up, but professionalism reigns.

It's probably no accident that "House" is on Fox. Like the frenzied "24," "House" tells us that it's okay to disobey all the rules and throw protocol out the window -- even lie and break into patients' houses -- as long a you are right.

Gregory House is a mad genius with a bum leg. His continuous physical and psychic pain, complicated with Vicodin by day and tumblers of whiskey by night, stokes his passion and his impatience. He's the kind of bad boy women love -- really a good guy because he's smart and dedicated, but bad because he's so damaged.

When you really start thinking about it, the message is disturbing. You wouldn't want your child to use House as a role model -- he's really Dick Cheney (or who Cheney fancies himself). Rules are for hacks.

But the best literature is not about presenting role models. It's about creating complex characters who lead complicated lives. I still look forward to my weekly encounter with the brat.

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