House: Season 2
The overall strength of the second season of House, M.D. proves that its first-year success wasn't a fluke. This season starts with Dr. House (Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie) pursuing his ex-wife Stacy (Sela Ward) and ending with a tragedy that could potentially be deadly for himself and two colleagues. The premise of each show follows a set routine--a patient is brought in with unusual symptoms; House challenges his trio of underlings to diagnose the problem; they treat the patient, usually incorrectly the first few tries; and then at the very last minute--through a revelation that often has little to do with the patient--House figures out what's wrong and saves the day. It would be easy for this set up to grow old fast. But because of the smart writing, nuanced acting, and believability of the characters (who're often dealing with unbelievable scenarios), the formula works on each of the 24 episodes that aired on Fox during the 2005-2006 season. Viewers have been conditioned by the Marcus Welbys of the TV world to think of doctors as saviors. Even on ER, the most narcissistic physician was selfless at heart. But House is a different breed. When he's at an off-track betting parlor and a woman collapses, he doesn't miss a beat. Still eying his race on television, he asks, "Is anybody here a doctor?" He'll mock a sick patient's complaints with a sarcastic, "Boo hoo!" And, if there happens to be a dead body around, he has no qualms about shooting it if he believes that could help diagnose another gun-shot victim.
Not that he's any more reasonable or compassionate to his boss Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), his oncologist best friend Wilson (Tony winner Robert Sean Leonard), or his young charges Foreman (Omar Epps), Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), and Chase (Jesse Spencer). He instructs his doctors to break into patients' homes as if they're cat burglars. He does not know the meaning of the phrase "politically correct." But because he spits out insults (as if he has a mild case of Tourette's) equally to both his patients and colleagues, the latter never flinch at his constant stream of inappropriateness. When his three young doctors storm into his office to report the declining condition of a patient by blurting out, "We have rectal bleeding," House says, "What? All three of you?" To sensitive Wilson, who is trying to get some work done without being interrupted, House says, "I know you're in there. I can hear you caring." And when Foreman's father says, "My son says you're a manipulative bastard," House replies, "It's a pet name. I call him Dr. Bling." Of course House actually does care about his patients, but he views a good bedside manner as the luxury of a doctor who has a healthy patient. But dying patients with seemingly incurable diseases need something more. They need House.