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You can cheer up now, the cranky doctor is in

 
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MessagePosté le: Mar 20 Jan - 08:43 (2009)    Sujet du message: You can cheer up now, the cranky doctor is in Répondre en citant

You can cheer up now, the cranky doctor is in

Why so serious?

Bleak financial forecasts and harsh winter weather have made us a cranky nation, but do try to chin up and consider the small pleasures that still make life worth living. TV helps. Try to look past the daily rounds of dire economic predictions, if you can, and look forward to this week's arrival of a new American president – tomorrow's inauguration of Barack Obama is already touted to be the global TV event of the century – and take the time to appreciate tonight's return of the angriest man on television. Dr. House is back, and his foul demeanour seems right in keeping with these times of high anxiety.

House (Fox, Global at 8 p.m.) returns after a winter break, but on a new night and in an earlier time slot. Fox has relocated the series to Monday to make room for the karaoke competition that is American Idol. Tuesday's loss is Monday's gain.

Shifting nights and moving back an hour would spell the end for most network dramas, but House devotees will change personal plans and follow the show over to Monday night. A select group, House viewers are fiercely faithful to the show, which they recognize as the best drama on network television.

In its fifth season, House still feels like a real medical drama, and for all the clinical coldness exuded by the peerless British actor Hugh Laurie as the sharp-tongued, Vicodin-addicted Dr. Gregory House, the series has great warmth

The original premise of House trained on a medical genius saving lives while beset by fools – or at least fellow medical geniuses he perceived as fools. Unlike the doggedly serialized ER or other examples (go ahead, try to name another medical series from the past decade), House has changed gradually from being a singular character study intoa fine ensemble drama, giving audiences more to watch.

Tonight's new episode is a very sharp hour of television drama. House's former fellow Cameron refers to the diagnosticians a patient named Jeff, who suffers from chronic pain so severe he's been contemplating suicide. While in the hospital, he makes two attempts.

Through the usual scientific method and sessions with his team of underlings, House deduces the patient's pain is at the state where his own chronic pain condition will be in a few years. For once, House has no bite in his exchanges with a patient. He isn't sure he could live with the pain himself.

With the main storyline in place, the episode touches on the lives of other people revolving around the mad doctor. The last new show in early December saw the dean of medicine and erstwhile object of House's affection Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) adopting a baby. The scenes of House cuddling the infant were priceless. The story now follows Cuddy's struggles to function as a single mom, which in turn causes her to consider a work leave. House is not pleased by the prospect of a Cuddy-free world.

The episode splits into a third direction with focus on team members Foreman and Thirteen, now in a relationship, which impedes their work on an important drug trial for Huntington's Disease. Those work romances never seem to run smoothly.

But in the end, there is hope. House is all about hope, even though the publicity shots for the new season feature the entire cast in softball-team jerseys with the words, “Hope is for sissies” emblazoned on front. It's all a grand joke, of course. These guys are the merchants of hope.

House is feel-good television for the informed, in a way. The medical theme serves the dramatic content, instead of the other way around, and some wonderful acting transpires, mainly by Laurie; anyone doubting that film acting is all in the eyes should watch this man.

And those people close to House are gently advanced in their storylines, thereby making them more interesting. House is probably the only show on TV that has viewers caring about the support players.

Even by usual House standards, it's an above-average outing that demonstrates the smart evolution of a good series. House marks its 100th show on February 2. The century-episode milestone is often the time when a network series simultaneously slides into sameness and first-run syndication, but that's not happening on House. Unlike most shows on television, it's still growing.

ANDREW RYAN From Monday's Globe and Mail

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MessagePosté le: Mar 20 Jan - 08:43 (2009)    Sujet du message: Publicité

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