You have to admire any show that defies the stereotypes, and House accomplishes what many would have thought impossible – making the lead character a thoroughly rude and unlikable doctor. Gregory House’s mission is to “diagnoses the undiagnosable” – while being one of the biggest egomaniacs in television history.
It’s a great premise, and Hugh Laurie brings it to life brilliantly. He was unable to try out for the part in person because he was in Namibia filming a movie. So he made an audition tape in the hotel bathroom (the only place with enough light) and sent it to the producers. They were taken right away with this “quintessentially American person,” only to learn later that he was, in fact, British. Laurie credits his American accent to “a misspent youth watching too much TV and too many movies.”
House is not only given a physical handicap in the show, but is also addicted to Vicodin. He takes only the cases he finds interesting, much to the chagrin of hospital administration and fellow doctors. And he comes within a breath of killing all his patients (who he treats with general disdain) before finally finding the amazing cure at the last moment.
House M.D. premiered in 2004, and has been a consistent favorite of both fans and critics ever since. It has been a top 10 show for several seasons, and a top 20 show the rest of the time. And it’s been the most-watched show on the Fox network.
Aside from American Idol, of course. As Dr. House said, “I’ve got to start pretending to care.”
- Hugh Laurie becomes highest-paid actor in US television drama (guardian.co.uk)