Monday, May 10, 2004

In the Fox "House"

A lot of crappy TV pilots are about to get ordered to series.

Network executives will ignore their better instincts, blindly follow research reports, tell themselves a million times over, "We can recast"-- and then go ahead and order 13 episodes of shows they know deep down will never work.

But enough about "Emeril." Or "Good Morning, Miami." Or "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." Or "Jessica."

While some of this site will be devoted to lamenting the lameness about to be unleashed on the American viewing public, we'll also give love to the good stuff.

And, damn: Fox's "House" is good. Maybe great.

Directed by Brian "X-Men" Singer, the show's a sort of medical "Monk." Hugh Laurie plays Dr. House, a pill-poppin', "General Hospital"- watchin' doctor... who hates patients and needs a cane to walk around. That's OK since his main job isn't to treat bellyaches. He's actually a brilliant research doc who's brought in to solve medical mysteries that have stumped other MDs. He's even got a Fox-friendly team of studs/hotties to help him out.

The pilot pacing is a bit slow in places, but otherwise "House" is a stunning 44 minutes of television. Laurie makes House's asshole act believable; he's crusty without being a cariacature. Two of his three team members have interesting backstories, which should provide plenty of fodder for B-stories and subtle character development. And the whole medical mystery plot device gives Fox its best chance yet at a broad-appeal hit like "CSI" or "Law & Order."

Actually, that could be the one thing that scares Fox suits away from "House." It's not the usual high concept crap Fox loves to put on. (Actual conversation inside Fox a year ago about "Tru Calling": "Um, I have no idea what just happened, either. But Eliza Dushku is hot. And sci-fi geeks will eat it up!")

But if Fox execs are willing to take the shot, "House" should be a hit.

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