Category Archives: House

But Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t do that!

 

I spent too much time during the episode thinking exactly that to myself.

All right, in the original series, Watson, a doctor, does keep an eye on Holmes’ drug intake (Holmes takes drugs because his amazing, superhuman brain is bored. When he’s on cases, he’s fine). But Watson is now Holmes’ babysitter.

 

Her being played by Lucy Liu isn’t an automatic problem for me—I could live with a female Watson, who is supposed to be the “normal, relatable” character who helps us understand the mad genius. On House, Wilson is so terribly nice that he doesn’t totally work as the modern Watson of the story, though his role as the genius’s soundboard certainly works. Wilson is just as foreign to us as House is, and it’s his team who become the relatable figures of the story. This Watson is the classic fish out of water—a normal character dealing with Holmes’ abnormal behavior. She has demons in her past, but so does Doyle’s original Watson, surly and depressed from his war wound and the horrors of Afganistan. The Show Sherlock has a sinmilarly wounded Watson, who blogs about Holmes’ adventures as a kind of therapy. SO far we’re all right, by Liu has suggested in interviews that Holmes and Watson have a chemistry and they make hook up soon. This is NOT the original story, or any possible permutation of it (Though several movies and the show Sherlock have observers believing they’re gay, this is the tale of two true friends, more like House and Wilson than a couple.)

 

While BBC’s Sherlock does an amazing job of modernizing the story, much of its charm is in how directly it updates the adventures—Sherlock texts constantly as a form of distancing, since his old favorite the telegram is passé. He uses a network of homeless instead of street urchins. Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime, breaks into the Tower of London and wears the Royal Jewels. It all fits. Even more delightful for fans are all the clever references and teases—“The Speckled Blonde,” not “The Speckled Band,” as case, the many reversals of “A Study in Pink” and the book it’s based on. Experienced fans are delighted by the allusions and the surprising updates alike, as the footprints “of a giant hound” are more than quote, but a secret clue buried in the odd phrasing.

 

Elementary isn’t quite so cunning. The first episode’s mystery has sensational, violent murders, and clever clues to unravel the pieces. Watson dives into the world of mysteries, delighted and intrigued by Holmes’ deductions even as she helps him reach a solution. But there are plot holes. A saferoom the husband had no knowledge of, built for no particular purpose? Worse yet, Holmes has an actual temper tantrum, destroying property through rage rather than a ruse. It felt wrong. Will the characters become another valid Holmes/Watson pairing in truth, or will the show vanish along with all the unsuccessful crime dramas? It remains to be seen. But this pair will have to work harder if they want to convince me they’re THE Holmes and Watson.

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Goodbye House–Thoughts on the House Finale

Like House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart, House undergoes a long night of the soul and makes a choice whther he wants to live or die. Once again, a medical mystery is tied to his decision.

The writers brilliantly broughtt in so many characters House would hallucinate in his final moments–Kutner, his guilt; Amber. his abrasive competitiveness; Stacy, his love and possibility of a decent relationship. All of them offer him reasons to live–his fear of a wasteful pointless death, his enjoyment of puzzles, possibilities of finding love again. During House’s long night of the soul, all these aspects of his personality urge him to fight the dying of the light, to live. Cameron by contrast offers him a balm which she counches as a reward of gift, an end to the pain. As she offers him the suicide he’s contemplating on a silver platter, he faces the ugly truths about himelf–he’s arrogant and self-destructive. “You’re a better person dying than you were living,” House realizes of his patient. and this makes him realize that he too needs to face death. HIs hallucinations tell him that without Wilson he can grow a conscience, and after facing death, he discovers that’s true.

His hallucinations challenge all the pronouncements he’s always made–that he doesn’t believe in God, that he’s happy alone, that there’s nothing after death, that he does’t care about his patients. His final case on the show was treating an injured drug adict who’s dying–a perfect reflection of himself. All these force him to confront the sides of himself he’s repressed–his enjoyment of puzzles, his conscience, his fear of and longing for death. Facing these suppressed shadow selves is a perfect hero’s journey or Jungian moment. And as with the hero’s journey, he follows these realizations with a descent into death.

All of House’s team, past and present, unite to bid him and the audience goodbye–Cameron’s look at the original team’s photo was a fun glance back at the past, as she and other team members establish futures: she has a baby, Chase leads the team, and so forth. At the funeral, Wilson, of course, breaks through everyone’s feeble praise to speak the truth, as House likely would have at Wilson’s funeral.

House’s surprise return wasn’t a great surprise for any fans of Tom Sawyer or Sherlock Holmes for that matter. Holmes’s famous death devastated his best friend Watson, but Holmes returned a short time later, explaining that while “dead” he could accomplish more than alive. Holmes and Watson are last seen driving off together having foiled the Germans in WWII, and heading off to another adventure–retirement can’t stop them! In the US, The Reichenbach Fall episode of Sherlock aired a day before this one, underscoring House’s faked death with Sherlock’s almost identical scene–another fun moment for fans. And indeed, a resurrected House is a House unconfined by the job that once defined him, a House prepared to grow a conscience on his own, find love, or at least find adventure and develop a new identity for himself. With of course, more puzzles and more excitement on his everlasting motorcycle. Drive on, House!

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Sherlock the Show and House the Character

On House, our hero solves the medical mystery each week. We see the mysteries that are hour-long challenges and the little ten-second puzzles of the clinic cases. But none truly test House’s limits. His true challenges are the emotional puzzles–figure out how to keep his employee from leaving, discover how to have a romantic relationship. He’s an expert on people as he deduces patients’ lies, affairs, and guilty secrets. But in practice, he knows nothing about how to be part of society.

Many have heard that House was based at least slightly on Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, House is well known for “reading people,” observing by their hands and pockets what they’ve been up to. The new television show Sherlock echoes this character along with his conundrums. The main character is removed from what he considers human weakness—human emotion. Sherlock and House ignore the law when it suits them as they go on breaking and entering, taking drugs, and being rude to the people around them. Both have a friendly yet sarcastic contempt for their “co-workers”—the police and House’s team, whom they view as inferior, bound to social conventions, emotions, and lesser intellects.

Watson/Wilson is of course the enabler character. He is the hero’s only best friend and entire support system in one. Though the hero may protest that he doesn’t need anyone, he knows deep down that this one true friend is keeping him grounded and sane, connected to the world and caring for it. This most human of best friends represents the isolated hero’s humanity. Of course, he’s also a connection for us the viewers to participate in the story through, the ordinary man thrust into an impossible relationship with an impossible-to-manage genius. He’s also, though not the smartest, often a catalyst or trigger for the hero to deduce the answer. This perpetual sidekick goes through many shallow relationships, because, as all his girlfriends comment, his real, lasting relationship is with his best friend.

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