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October 13, 2015

What if House stopped being a procedural?

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 23rd 2009 9:08AM
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory HouesI have a problem with procedurals. I tend to get bored with the same formula week in and week out. And yet, I've been enjoying House for years, despite the incredibly repetitive sequence of events we get every week. The reason for that is because of the brilliance of the character Gregory House, and Hugh Laurie's portrayal of him.

As Jonathan mentioned in his review of House's season premiere, this two-hour trip into the insane asylum broke the procedural formula completely. Not only did we not see House cure any medical ailments, we didn't see the rest of the cast at all, save a quick cameo by Wilson. Instead, we got a character study and a major breakthrough for House.

But a breakthrough is a beginning. What if the show, like the character, had a transformation of its own? How about a medical-based drama instead of a medical procedural? We can still have cases and House diagnosing them, but dump the weekly formula and instead make it about the characters and their lives.

I loved spending two hours with Gregory House, the man. There's a whole cast of people with lives and loves on this show. Would it ruin the show to make it more about the people than the case-of-the-week? There's plenty of drama to play with. I know what kind of television viewer I am, though, and what kinds of shows I do and don't like. The ratings say that viewers love procedurals, but this non-procedural episode of House got huge ratings.

Non-procedural has worked for hospital dramas like ER and Grey's Anatomy. Could it work for House? Or would it take too much of the focus off of the main character? What are your thoughts? Would you watch House as a straight-up medical drama, or should FOX leave well enough alone?

Check out clips and episodes of House to make an informed decision at SlashControl.

Would you watch House if it stopped being a procedural?
No, I love the medical mysteries each week114 (19.7%)
Yes, I'd like it more as a straight-up drama187 (32.4%)
It doesn't matter, as long as House is in it277 (47.9%)

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No, no no no, why do people who dont like something try to change what others love so they might like it more. Go watch trauma or mercy if you want a drama show with doctors. Leave us and House alone.

September 25 2009 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I guess I disagree with most of the people here. I think part of the reason I've become increasingly disenchanted with it over the last couple of years is that they have been focusing less and less on the case of the week and more and more on the characters who, with the exception of House and possibly Wilson, generally bore me. It was fun seeing their interactions and how they played off each other solving cases. Spending hours on Foreman and Thirteen's relationship has been driving me bonkers. While I'm all for mixing the formula up a little, changing it completely would be the last straw for me.

September 24 2009 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Procedurals are easier to produce than other formats. They also film faster since they require less writing time and less location shoots.

Either way, I'd rather have 23 episodes of House with decent character development than 13 episodes with nothing but character development.

September 23 2009 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Personally, I think this show has been drifting away from being a procedural show for a couple of seasons now. Sure they have the POTW each week but the time spent on those stories has been getting smaller and smaller and the time spent on developing the cast interaction and storylines has actually been the main focus for the hour. Think about it, the best shows are NOT the ones where when we discuss it its "hey how about that show where the ballerina's skin was falling off" its always "hey how about that one where Amber died" or "House's ex came back". This week was no different, regardless if one liked the Gregg show or not, this was a masterful two hours of television. We, the viewing audience continue to watch because we are challenged each week with an hour of unconventional television writing. Even though there's a POTW, that's never really been what House has been about. Hopefully we'll see further exploration of this in this year's episodes - and from the teaser at the end of the show, it looks like that's exactly what's coming.

September 23 2009 at 9:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think a slight change from the POTW (Patient of the Week) is warranted. Instead of solving a patient's case in one episode have a rotating group of cases. Some may take 2 episodes to solve, others more etc. The POTW would not necessarily be the "A" story in each episode. This way you still have the procedural aspect that the House character shines in but still have flexibility in telling the story.

September 23 2009 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is nothing left for them to do as a procedural. The patient per week formula has become far too predictable and boring. They definitely need to mix things up. The greatest House episodes are the ones where they slip from the standard a-b-c can only help with quality.

Unfortunately as has been mentioned, this would likely upset the simple majority who tune in for predictability and 'shipping crap. Can't upset the masses in search of artistic quality.

September 23 2009 at 7:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Margaret. They could depart from the specific time frame of finishing the diagnosis at the end of the show. If they solve it randomly and then add more character development throughout it would make a hopefully better show. Which is hard because they already have a great show. The characters are already varied enough to allow for great story telling. Looks like we may get more of Foreman and 13 starting next week.

September 23 2009 at 3:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The biggest problem I have with the procedural formula is that it has gotten too predictable. My friends and I can look at the clock and know that the team hasn't solved it yet. It's gotten to the point where we just say "oh, it's 9:48, this must be the right one." Maybe if they just changed up the way they present each medical mystery, it would be more interesting.

September 23 2009 at 1:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to margaret's comment

I do that too. Even when it looks like everything is fine, when there is 20 minutes to go or something you know they don't have the answer yet. It does get very predictable and well I hardly care about the diagnosis or the patients.

September 23 2009 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I personally loved the episode, and agree that a deviation from the patient of the week format would be a welcome change. That being said, I heard from my mom and my sister that they weren't fans of "the Greg show" this week. They missed the medical mystery and the other characters.

And your assumption is there is something wrong with the patient of the week format. The main focus of the show has always been House, and then that is enhanced by the mystery he solves and his interactions with others. Right now, I'm fine right where things are. The show's already messed with the format once before (Chase, Cameron, and Foreman "leaving") and left viewers unhappy. Perhaps it's in our best interest to take things at face value. Love the great episodes, procedural or not.

September 23 2009 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul K

You can't possibly judge whether or not viewers would accept a complete shift in the formula based on the ratings for the season premiere. The ratings were high because people love House and wanted to watch the show. You wouldn't be able to judge until several episodes had gone by with the new format whether people would love it or leave it.

I don't mind the occasional character development episode. I thought this one was fantastic! But there are already WAY TOO MANY soap operas out there. Leave House the way it is. Drama surrounding the weekly medical mystery.

September 23 2009 at 12:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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