When I first started watching House, I found it very intriguing. It is basically a detective story, only instead of trying to solve a crime, the doctors are trying to diagnose (and then treat) a disease. The creators modelled it off of Arthur Conan Doyle’sSherlock Holmes series.
However, by the time I got through the first season (I was watching them on DVD), I could barely stand the show anymore. There were just too many weird diseases. For some reason, I am not squeamish about murders. I am very squeamish about diseases. The more bizarre the murder/disease, the more squeamish I get, and thus even the more mundane episodes of House had me curled up in the fetal position on the couch. The blood, guts, and gore were not problematic either — I don’t mind blood and guts when it is logical (such as in a hospital), and rather did the scenes in the show feel like the writers had decided to add more blood than necessary.
No, what bothered me about House was that people in the opening sequence would seem perfectly fine, or be suffering from a minor ailment, and be nearly dying by the end of the episode (usually to be brought back from the brink in the denouement). What would be the culprit? Something incidental, usually. Sometimes, the disease was something exotic that someone had picked up while travelling, but most often it was something from a patient’s house or work. Even more likely — perhaps because this is the weirdest — was a disease that a patient had already: autoimmune disorders, allergies, cancers, or complications from other conditions. In other words, the primary culprits were the type of killer that one cannot protect oneself from. Not only would the patient be at death’s door, but they would start with a sneeze, or general fatigue, or a slight headache, or any minor symptom at all.
I soon found that I was no longer being entertained by a show that reminded me that any minor symptom that I might be feeling could lead to death. Thus, I found the interpersonal lives of the characters to be more interesting — until they became too ridiculous.
My favourite aspect of House, however,was its storytelling style. While most episodes followed a straightforward format, some branched out and told the story in reverse, or from the middle, or in flashback. No only that, but if a character was telling the story to another character, the point of view would shift, characters would pause mid-sentence as the tellers of the story stopped to argue, and random characters would appear in the middle. (As someone with a visual brain, I found such scenes easy to follow — some viewers would find such scenes confusing.) These elements added extra layers to the mystery, as well as welcome comic relief. Such an episode felt more like a stage play and also gave the characters opportunity to get philosophical without breaking the realism of the setting.
I stopped watchingHouse regularly after about the fourth season. The stories were getting repetitive and/or outlandish, there was too much focus on the characters’ personal lives (which would have been fine if not so ridiculous), and I was tired of being creeped out. I continued to follow the show’s storylines online, and occasionally I watched some episodes that were unusual, such as those mentioned above. Thus, I was not about to miss seeing the series finale! What, indeed, would happen to Dr. House? I was certainly expecting death or near-death.
I was not disappointed by the finale. I loved the writing style — maintaining the theatrical, storytelling feel and yet giving the cast a well-rounded send-off. Dr. House confronts his inner demons, who take on the form of people from his past, while stuck in a burning building. He tells them (really, himself) about his last case, which seemed to have convinced him that his life was too screwed up for him to care anymore. All of the actors did a great job with their roles. Furthermore, I was pleased to see what became of past characters, even if we only got small glimpses.
Without spoiling the ending for those who have yet to watch it, I was relieved that the last scenes were played out to upbeat music. To me personally, it felt almost like an apology — a “We’re sorry that we scared you. We just wanted you to be entertained.” Because truly, like Dr. House, I was intrigued and entertained by the puzzle. I could have a million and one diseases. If I do, or develop them, I will worry about them then. There is little use to obsess about them now.
I think I will try to watch the DVDs again…eventually.