I’ve always been skeptical of “official guides” to television shows, since most of them are quickly produced works of questionable worth. A few glossy photos and interviews paraphrased from internet articles are generally what you get.
This is not the case with Ian Jackman’s excellent House, M.D: The Official Guide To the Hit Medical Drama.
If you are a fan of a long-running TV show, you have probably developed an emotional investment in its characters, its plot, and the actors who appear on your TV screen week after week to bring the the stories to life. But what about the other folks involved, those without whom shows like House would never see the light of day?
In Ian Jackman’s book we are introduced to a cast of characters whose roles are markedly different but just as essential to the show as any of the familiar faces we see on screen. Those we usually take for granted are celebrated here and Mr. Jackman has not glossed over their importance. Along the way we meet the prop masters, directors, producers, set designers, catering people, etc. Just about anyone involved with the production of the show is written about or interviewed.
In my favorite chapter entitled “What If Michael Caine Played House’s Father?” the hierarchy of the writing staff according to showrunner David Shore is revealed. How a script is written is delved into, as well, focusing on staff writer, David Hoselton’s process for constructing an episode. The time constraints and the pressure put on these writers is immense. How they pool their creative energies and work as a small community to get the job done makes for a fascinating read.
The attention to detail Mr. Jackman takes with this and all facets of the book is admirable. He never talks down to his readers, rather he informs us of his findings in an intelligent and entertaining manner.
The chapters focusing on the main characters/actors are handled in a unique way that works quite well. An overview of the character is given; quotes from the actor are interspersed with Jackman’s look at episodes he uses to give an example or make a point about the character he is focusing on. He then gives us a Q & A with the actor, who offers his or her thoughts about their character and how they relate to House. Jackman’s questions are well thought out and are in no way run of the mill. I found that I actually learned much I didn’t know about what makes these characters tick.
In the center of the book are 16 pages of behind the scenes photos in full-color glory (most of which are exclusive to this book). Smaller black and white photos are interspersed throughout and are also worth a look.
By now, if you’re not suitably convinced, the 10-page foreword by Hugh Laurie is alone worth the price of admission. Sharp, funny, thoughtful, and wonderfully written, the polymath Mr. Laurie has again proven he can do it all.
Whether you are a longtime fan of House or are just getting interested in the show, House, M.D.: The Official Guide To the Hit Medical Drama is an essential read.