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TV - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
TV
So, I finally got around to watching House and Monk. The latter, I'd been meaning to watch because, hey, how often do you see actual OCD on television? The former, everyone seems to be recommending, so as long as it was on on USA, I tried it out, and checked out the TWoP recaps.

I don't know that I could ever get addicted to this show, but it was amusing, and really did have the irritating nature of OCD in it. And no one taking him seriously when he said he had house plants to look after and no one else could be trusted. While his compulsions managed to tip off his assistant that something was wrong and his fretting on the detail of a moved tarp located a body, on the whole, it was presented as a real handicap. Funny sometimes, but actually somewhat incapacitating. It seemed a little scattered as to what his obsessions and compulsions are--general contamination, I guess, but the mental condition isn't entirely clear. I don't know the back story, though. It may have come in earlier episodes.

On the whole, the sense I got from it was that the main character really is a brilliant guy hobbled by a fairly nasty psychological problem, who manages to function despite it and solve cases. Writing and performances are nothing special, but not horrendous, either. I'll probably catch it again if I remember.

House, I have mixed feelings about. As a writer, I'm all over it. The shows are well-structured, the characters well put-together, and the performances strong. I'll even give serious points for showing an actual arrogant doctor who really isn't all about being swayed by his patients.

I just have a hard time getting over the suspension of disbelief. Here's this guy who's supposed to be brilliant by reputation, but week in and week out (I actually saw two episodes this week and read recaps on several more), he prescribes radical and dangerous treatments that turn out to be wrong and put patients in serious jeopardy. Yes, he ends up being proven right, but so far, I've been with the parents and so on who are, like, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?" And even if he somehow managed to avoid being fired for hot-dogging and insulting his staff on both racial and sexual grounds, he wouldn't enjoy such a reputation for brilliance if his patients repeatedly reported all the misdiagnoses. And if he really pulled that sneezing-in-the-OR trick, I don't care if he saved a life... there'd be professional hell to pay.

But dang, it's good to see Neil from Dead Poets again. And looking freakily the same as he did in DPS.
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Comments
jo_anne_storm From: jo_anne_storm Date: March 18th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not to mention House is an admitted addict. Which I found rather interesting (that being the first episode I've ever watched). TV tends to stereotype people, and I think that's the first time I've ever seen a functioning addict portrayed.
buffyannotater From: buffyannotater Date: March 18th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, one of the neat things about Monk, if you watch it regularly, is that he doesn't succeed in solving the cases in spite of but because of his OCD, because no one else is obsessive enough to notice the tiny details that he always does.

I used to love the show in the first two seasons. Then halfway through the third, in which the writing started to suffer, Monk's first assistant, Sharona (played by Bitty Schram) was written off the show after some sort of dispute with the show's producers, and very unconvincingly written off, I might add, and since the aspect of the show that I found fascinating was their relationship, I stopped watching and haven't seen it since.
stephantom From: stephantom Date: March 18th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't seen Monk, but I have recently become addicted to House. And yes, you do have to suspend disbelief somewhat... He's a fascinating character, but you can't help thinking that in real life, he couldn't get away with half the stuff he does. Supposedly people put up with him because he's brilliant and good at what he does, but sometimes you wish that his brilliance would be a little clearer... Of course, for the sake of creating interest and suspense, the first diagnosis can almost never be right. The problem gets solved too early. However, also keep in mind that it's corrected within days, sometimes hours. Which, considering how big a problem misdiagnoses really are, (I read in a NY Time article that fatal illnesses are misdiagnosed about 20% of the time, and that there really hasn't been any improvement in the area since 1930), if House was real, he would be pretty impressive. Remember that he takes on specifically the cases that no one else has been able to figure out, so of course they will be challenging. If he took on simpler cases, he would probably be able to diagnosis them correctly very quickly (but of course, that would be too boring - for both House and the audience).
ani_bester From: ani_bester Date: March 19th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Ir eally enjoy Mon, but I've only seen latter episodes. My Dad's been watching it since day one and says that theys tarted out playing things a little more straight and things are no done a lot more over the top, but I think the show is cute and it's a nice change of pace from Law and Order and such.

House, ahhh you're with my mom.
My Mom was a hospital department admin and so various aspects of House drive her nuts because she kows that no matter how smart he is, he'd be gone . . . and that's for the addiction alone, let alone half the other stuff he does.
But, she finds the show engaging and fun and *L* secretly I think House is the kinda Doctor a lot of medical people wish they could be when the patients are clearly not being honest.
stephantom From: stephantom Date: March 19th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
While I agree that he'd be gone, I don't think the addiction would do it alone. Because it's kind of a grey area... What qualifies as addiction? Physical dependence? The fact that he suffers chronic pain means that he is physically dependent, so becoming physically addicted doesn't really make a difference, which is his view on it. Emotionally or physologically dependent, that's another matter. The fact that he takes more Vicodin when in stressful or irritating situations is telling, and that he takes too much - he wants to get high. But still, it's kind of irrelevant because he has no choice but to take pain meds constantly... I don't think in real life you'd have any right to fire a chronic pain sufferer for popping pain killers.
sparkly_stuff From: sparkly_stuff Date: March 19th, 2006 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I love House, but I know what you mean. I just keep reminding myself that it's just a TV show, and that the point of the show isn't to inform about medicine or the medical profession, but to be interesting and entertaining. (I remember one of the producers pretty much saying that in an interview I read.) After watching the whole 1st season and most of the 2nd, the only thing that really annoys me is how formulaic the episodes became--House makes a diagnosis convinced he's right, House turns out to be wrong, the next five treatments are wrong, House gets a stroke of inspiration, the patient is cured. And I agree, by now he should have figured out that he's never right the first time! But the snark, the characters, the subplots, and the suspense is so great that you can't help but forgive the writers.
stephantom From: stephantom Date: March 19th, 2006 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
He has occasionally been right the first time, usually when the diagnosis isn't really the focus on the show. The last episode, for example, he diagnosed the patient for something, basing it on him having gone to cheese-tasting thing or something, and it was right - this was in the first 15 minutes. But the main difficulty of the episode was getting the guy a new heart.

He also isn't always convinced he's right the first time - in fact, I think that most of the time he expects the initial diagnosis to be wrong and just does it with a "Well, let's see what happens when we do this," attitude, because the result can usually tell him something.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2006 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's not exactly the writers' fault, either--the flaw is inherent in the concept, so I'm willing to be forgiving, but thinking about it too much tends to make me go, "Yeah, but..."
dsbs From: dsbs Date: March 19th, 2006 02:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I've never even heard of Monk. Or *cough* DPS. But I'm a huge House fan. And yeah, I agree, the suspension of disbelief does get a bit much sometimes. Here's my theory: I think the whole point is that the main PotW is that this is a mystery no other doctor could solve, so it's "okay" that House doesn't guess the ailment at once. The clinic patients, on the other hand, are there to show us House's "brilliance" because he usually diagnoses them correctly after looking at them for all of 2 seconds.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2006 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Oo, check out Dead Poets Society... RSL as a prep school student who defies his father for the first time, Robin Williams as a teacher, Ethan Hawke as RSL's roommate, and a guy with a lipstick lightning bolt on his chest.
dsbs From: dsbs Date: March 19th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Really? Wow, I've heard of all those people (this is rare for me :D). Will do :)
disturbed_kiwi From: disturbed_kiwi Date: March 19th, 2006 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to agree about House. He invariably has a couple of 'sure thing' goes that turn out to be disastrously wrong. I can't believe his reputation survives it.

Its a fairly fun show to watch though.
moonlinnet From: moonlinnet Date: March 19th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you would have enjoyed Monk more if you had seen it with Sharona (the previous assistant) instead of Natalie. The show was much more well-written then. =)

But I do love Monk. And have not gotten to see House yet.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: March 20th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
My sister loves Monk, she says he makes her feel totally non-OCD.
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