April 09, 2007

A Little TV Criticism

I've been watching more network TV lately than I ever used to. Of course, I only get FOX and ABC right now (don't ask), so my choices are rather limited. And that's how I discovered House.

For those who don't know, House is a new show on FOX, and it has nothing to do with home improvement. From the official FOX description:

DR. GREGORY HOUSE (Hugh Laurie) is devoid of anything resembling bedside manner and wouldnÂ’t even talk to his patients if he could get away with it. Dealing with his own constant physical pain, he uses a cane that seems to punctuate his acerbic, brutally honest demeanor. While his behavior can border on antisocial, House is a brilliant diagnostician whose unconventional thinking and flawless instincts afford him widespread respect.
House is heartily non-theistic. It seems that he takes special joy in throwing a patient's faith up in their faith. But that's just his nature -- as the site says, he genuinely dislikes people in general, and sick people in particular. From a theistic perspective, though, it really seems like House takes special pride in insulting people of faith.

This is particularly clear in House's treatment of patients who are pro-life. Which brings me to the latest episode, "Fetal Position." Long story short, patient comes in, critically ill. Turns out that her unborn child has turned on her, and is slowly killing her. House is insistent on terminating the pregnancy.

House's boss is also pro-life, and goes to extremes to avoid aborting the baby. House agrees to perform surgery on the fetus. THIS is where the show got really good. During the surgery, the fetus reaches out and holds onto House's finger. Time for the closeup, Mr. DeMille. Unfortunately, FOX hasn't put a picture up on the site, and probably won't.

The part of the story I totally enjoyed is the crisis that one event has caused in House. The closing scene shows us House sitting on his couch, staring at his finger, contemplating what exactly happened in the OR. A decidedly pro-life moment.

House has one great strength -- it's ability to take a character who questions even the idea of belief itself, and making him confront the possibility that his assumptions are wrong. Throughout the season, House has confronted patients who have been examples of faith, and he doesn't emerge unscathed, philosophically speaking. He is still far from a theist, much less any form of Christian, but he's asking questions that he never thought he'd ask. At a time when so much of TV mocks and attacks people of faith, it's refreshing to watch a prime-time program that takes us seriously. I never thought I'd enjoy network TV this much ever again.

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Posted by: rqnfal at January 14, 2009 10:03 PM (Mha/e)

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