Don’t watch much fiction on the teevee. Not since that splendid summer where I told time by which program was coming on next – back in the day when titles were longer and shows were, well, 80s: Hardcastle & McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Simon & Simon, Magnum P.I., many others whose names now escape me, possibly because they were too long. That was the summer when short-lived True Blue taught me more practical jokes than I’ll ever have the time or cojones to use, and started my love affair with New York’s Emergency Services Unit (“When citizens are in trouble, they call the cops. When cop are in trouble, they call the ESU”). Good times, good times.
For years, I didn’t have cable, and thus no fiction. Well, not quite none. My best friend, Garrett, brought his Highlander videos and got me thoroughly addicted (Methos is teh awesome). Justin, who’s lined up to become my Professional Layabout should I become rich and famous, hooked me on Alias and Firefly. Chaos Lee and Justin together turned me into a rabid Buffy and Angel fan. Through the kindness of other peoples’ DVD collections, I didn’t completely lose touch with excellent teevee shows.
But for the past several years, I’ve used my television as an extension of my research (when my ex-roommate wasn’t monopolizing it, that is). People told me about shows I just had to see, and I shrugged. Too busy with writing, too disinterested in most of what’s on offer. Even the truly good stuff – Heroes, Numbers, other shows that should’ve been right up my alley – couldn’t hold my attention. Give me the Science Channel or nothing. Well, aside from the occasional episode of House.
I first saw House whilst suffering from an ear infection that left me incapable of doing anything other than lying on the couch while the world spun and my stomach heaved. My roomie had it recorded. I turned it on for reasons unknown. Writers will understand what happened next, as I’m sure all of them have had the spit-take experience of seeing one character basically embody one of your own. Turn Dr. House into a female FBI agent who is manifestly not addicted to Vicodin, and you’ve pretty much got Dusty. Although she’s a shade more diplomatic when it comes to forcing people to follow her prescribed course.
Old friends are on that show. Hugh Laurie, who played Prince George on Blackadder, is of course genius. He shocked me with his range. You don’t really equate an 18th-century British doofus with a brilliant American doctor. Anyone else have to look on IMDB before you believed it was really the same actor?
Robert Sean Leonard played one of my favorite characters in Dead Poets Society, Neil Perry. I still think of him as Neil. It’s good to see him playing an utterly awesome character on one of the best shows on teevee – he deserves a lot more recognition than he gets.
But it’s not those two who addicted me to House, as good as they are. It’s Jesse Spencer, who plays Dr. Chase. He’s brilliant. Don’t even know how to ‘splain it, but I’ll sum up this way: were I dying of some mysterious illness, I’d want him to be the one treating me (and House, of course, diagnosing, although I’d request they didn’t follow his first few treatment ideas). Watch how he interacts with patients in crisis, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
(No, it’s not just because he’s cute. I’m not into blonds. Hell, I didn’t even fall for Orlando Bloom until he went back to being a brunette.)
Sometimes, a character will captivate me. I want to study everything about them: the way they move, the way they speak, their expressions, all of it. What this usually means is that they’re reminding me of one of my own cast members. And I’ll watch obsessively until I can place exactly who. Even if the show or movie’s teh suck, I’ll watch it repeatedly – hell, I suffered through that hideous made-for-teevee Merlin movie. That was because of this guy:
He made me realize that a minor character was actually the center of my universe. And no, it’s not because he’s a brunette. Geez, people, I’m not that shallow. And no, the character’s nothing like Mordred. Quite the opposite, in fact. They don’t even look much like each other, aside from the dark hair and gray eyes, and the slim build. That’s all beside the point. He was just enough like that character to get the Muse a-whippin’.
Whoever Dr. Chase is reminding me of probably won’t end up having more than a passing resemblance, either. Doesn’t matter. The plain and simple fact is that something’s trying to tell me somebody.
I’m just grateful that this time, it’s using an excellent show to do so.
While I feed this House addiction, any of the writers in the cantina want to tell me about the weird ways you find inspiration?