Wednesday, June 6, 2007

House M.D. is Donuts For Your Brain (Really Good Donuts)

The wonders of Netflix, plus the 12-15 hours/week I spend on a bus training my ass to memorize the delightful contours of Highway 101, have given me an unexpected opportunity to catch up on lots of the tv I've been missing. This is either a good or bad thing, TBD, but the 1 year plan is mapping out bus-bound viewing periods ('seasons' if you will) for other of these popular tv series I've been missing: 24, Lost, The Office, etc.

I don't know why I chose House before all of these, and preceded only by Arrested Development, but I did and I'm sticking to it at least until I finish the first season.

I like the show, a lot, but one does have to be suspicious of anything so consumable, discretely enjoyable and unwoven. If tv shows were nutritious foods (or not), I'd equate House to a donut, each one is more or less the same and while everything in the immediacy of the experience cries out that it is indeed good, you know that it is actually quite bad - in the seductive, creeping, sinister sense of the word. There's a formula to donuts: sugar + fat = delicious. I suspect House is made with the intellectual equivalents, whatever they may be, but the point is that the means don't justify the ends since they're actually dangerous and while sugar and fat might make you diabetic and fat, House might just make you stupid while tricking you into thinking that you're smart.

And much like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin didn't invent the formula, they are mere iterations with different marketing details, House is not the first in this line of tv shows made of this gray-matter kryptonite - Law and Order, any of the CSI family of series and the West Wing come to mind.

I suppose 24 and Lost, at least, will turn out to be different donut varieties that could fit easily in this baker's dozen, maybe with sprinkles or maple-frosting, nothing too challenging. But comfortable, familiar, with good mouth feel and a satisfying finish.

The formula endures (for now at least) and that is the genius of this tv - not the original storytelling - but the business process behind it. Throw enough experts of details at an idea and anything can be good.

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