The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Susannigans: "House:" The Comforts of Holmes

2 min read


After the ultimate of all unforeseen Super Bowls this past Sunday, a small number of the population—including yours truly—doggedly stayed tuned to Fox for the quintessential episode of “House” that followed the game.

It could be argued that “House” is the most intellectually stimulating show Fox has to offer, with “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” a close second.

Hugh Laurie, of “101 Dalmatians” fame, masks his Oxford accent impeccably, taking on the role of Dr. Gregory House—the jaded scrooge that bares the show’s namesake. “House” is the anti-Doogie Howser: a ruthless, vindictive, miracle-worker.

While “House” may seem like a mundane and uncreative name for a protagonist, the name is actually homage to Detective Sherlock Holmes, of whose adventures the entire series is based off of.
House shares Holmes’ uncanny reasoning, caustic wit, and ironic addiction to pain-killers. He even has Wilson, a Watson-esque sidekick to constantly prod and foil.

“House” has adapted the Socratic formula that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle commissioned for Holmes; after several red herrings, our hero ultimately solves the case, inspired by a seemingly non-related occurrence. House will solve the case, without fail. Essentially, every episode is the same damn thing. So why, after four seasons, do we continue to tune in?

We are creatures of habit. While the characters’ interpersonal relationships have plenty of twists and turns, the excitement of  “House” lies in the bizarreness of the case itself, not in whether it will be solved. The comfort of House’s infallibility is refreshing in contrast to the rest of the show’s insufferable melodrama. Even if the patient ends up dying, we never have to doubt Dr. House.

As outrageous hits like “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” try to outdo each other with polar bears and apocalyptic plot twists, “House” is reliably predictable.

There is a fine line between tribute and imitation, but “House” has executed a classic formula beautifully. House not solving a case would be like Charlie Brown finally catching the football—uncomfortably realistic. There is value in sticking with what you know—remember when Bob Dylan went electric?

Some artists can pull off any transformation—here’s where I give Bruce Springsteen credit for having both a traditional folk album and album of his signature brand of rock ‘n’ roll sell billions of copies each this past year.

But among the eclectic savants, we need a few ol’ stand-bys. Here’s to the hope that “House” never gets renovated.