House in a House

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House in a House

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Sometimes when I'm reading a magazine article, or one of those awful New York Times news analysis pieces, the reporter will feel compelled to say, in the middle of referring to a person or a place, something like, "full disclosure: the author is personally acquainted with... " you know, whatever they were writing about. So if they're writing about Yale or Harvard, they'll say, "full disclosure: this reporter is a graduate of Yale," which didn't really need to be disclosed, actually: you can tell someone went to Harvard or Yale just by the tortured non-logic of his argument, and how often he uses the word "obviously." The full-disclosure ruse is just a way of bragging to people about something that it would be pushy or la-di-da to mention any other way -- full disclosure: this reporter is short-listed for the Pulitizer Prize; full disclosure: this reporter once saved a kitty's life -- all wrapped up in disingenuous ooze.

But in this instance, obviously, a full-disclosure note is in order. I am going to talk about a show I like, which is unusual because it's not a show I wrote, or created, or own in any way. And since pretty much the only things I like to watch on TV are things that are directly renumerative to me, you have a right to ask, what up?

The show is called House, and I am friendly with one of the writers, and once a few years ago I had a nice dinner with its star. Not much of a disclosure, but, obviously, one I had to make in order for you to think that I know famous and talented people. Obviously.

Anyway. House. It's a good show, and even good-er, it's a hit. A genuine hit, and on Fox to boot. Plus, the main character is a writer's dream: he's mean, he's tortured, he's often cruel, but he's brilliant and almost always right. In other words, he is the person that every writer imagines himself to be. Especially the always right part. He says rude, funny, unbelievably insensitive things to every other character on screen, and then hobbles off jauntily with his cane, and the other characters look at him with a mixture of awe and pity and shock and mesmerized worship. Full disclosure: this is the way people often look at me.

See, we'd all prefer to write a show about a nasty guy, because nasty is funny. And interesting. And usually, nasty is exactly what they make you take out of your script before they let you put film in the camera.

But this past year was sort of House's big year -- it popped in the Nielsens, and got what we around here call 'traction,' meaning: people sought it out, watched it, and came to it regularly. And that means that this summer is going to be a House summer. This is the summer that people like me go into meetings at the network with House-inspired pitches, and because House is working, it's the summer that networks, for the time being, don't mind hearing pitches for a show with a nasty misanthrope in the lead. So all over town it's going to be: it's House, but in a college. It's House but on a newspaper. It's House, but in space. It's gay House. It's legal House. It's deaf House. It's CSI House. It's, basically, Lost House. It's House, but he runs a show like the Daily Show. It's Daily House. It's cop House.

I have a friend who's pitching, sometime this week, his idea of doing House, but with a wife and kids at home. So it's House, but in a house.

"I've got it!" a friend of mine said, when describing his new pitch. "It's House, you know, basically, but in a hospital."

"House is a hospital," I said.

"Okay then. Female House in a hospital."

Which, when it's sold, will set off another round of: it's black House. Black House in a restaurant. Asian House in a research lab. Female Black Judge House. Asian Teacher House married to Desperate House Wife.

See? TV is easy. Everyone should do it.

That's it for this week. Next week we'll be either two or twenty minutes late. From KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long