Thursday, May 29, 2008

TV EYE: Glazed Ham, M.D.

As much as the success of House depends on the showy, quirky, central performance of Hugh Laurie as the iconoclastic Doc with the Sherlock Holmes medical brain, an addiction to pain killers, a total disdain for social boundaries, and an ego twice the size of his hospital, it’s secret strengths lie in both its stellar supporting cast and the succinct writing that fills in the blanks of the interrelationships around the plot sinking medical mystery of the week. (Because Laurie is a Brit playing American, the majority of the audience thinks he's doing Shakespeare, unable to recognize that thick glaze on his hammy theatrics.) Unlike, say Shark, which allows James Woods to ham it up virtually untouched, surrounded by supporting players who, outside of his on-screen daughter, never manage to register, the House role players (particularly Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, and Robert Sean Leonard) work well collectively and burnish Laurie’s grandstanding. This season’s decision to add to the cast initially muddled the drama, but as the year wound down to a well-honed two-parter, House regained it’s footsteps with the help of newcomers Kal Penn, Olivia Wilde and the spotlighted Anne Dudek, regaining it’s position as one of the most entertaining and sharpest TV melodramas.

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