It begins with the word on the page. The writer. The words. Upon hearing the news earlier this month that he had been honored with a third successive Golden Globe nomination, Hugh Laurie, star of House, MD and himself a writer (novelist, screenwriter, and comedy writer), said in his usual eloquently humble way: "I'm extremely honored to be included in such company. But I have to emphasize how much I owe to David Shore and all the writers. Without them, I wouldn't even know how to finish this sentence without... you know..." Point taken!
One of the joys of watching House, MD is experiencing the intricacy and subtle layering of the writing. Laurie once referred to House scripts as "Fabergé eggs", and I think I do understand what he means. But speaking of Laurie, his nuanced and complex (and often brave) portrayal of the troubled House makes the writers’ words come alive and lends to them a resonance that beckons the viewer to look behind and inside and around them. The subtext he provides to the writers' words (and enhanced by the direction) lend a humanity and fragility to the character that is simply stunning at times.
If you think about it, so much is going on in even an average episode of House, it’s amazing that they can carry it off in the allotted 43-minute run-time. Pulling it off, creating the density, the pacing, and the ebbs and flows requires cohesion of script, direction, editing, and acting. Frantic action in a very talky, serious, funny show: breakneck action inter-cut with moments of exquisite introspection, soul-searching and ethical debate. When it works, the results are spectacular. And on House, it works (almost) always.
The season one episode "Sports Medicine" happened to be playing on my television the other evening. Written by John Mankiewicz,“Sports Medicine” fits into the “typical” House episode formula. But when you look into the heart of story, there is so much more going on than immediately meets the eye. Plots and subplots that move the series’ storyline forward, give us pause, make us think and make us laugh. It is quite intricate and fragile. Like Hugh Laurie said — a Fabergé egg. Yet the episode’s story can also be taken at face value, by a more casual viewer and be amusing and completely satisfying.