Friday, April 01, 2005

 

Set this House in Princeton!

I like House, the medical detective series starring Hugh Laurie that airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. (ET) on Fox. It's a bit formulaic, but Laurie is terrific as the brilliant, acerbic House, and the medical mysteries are interesting.

But.

House is set in Princeton, NJ, in the fictional "Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital" (from the exterior shots, the Princeton University infirmary and surrounding buildings). Anyone from around here has a good laugh at that designation - Princeton University, you see, has no medical school, and thus no call for a teaching hospital in the area. (The local hospital, the Princeton Medical Center, has a connection with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, which itself is connected with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and gets some residents from there; but it is not a teaching hospital.)

Worse, House, although set in Princeton, is filmed in Hollywood - and it shows. There is absolutely nothing the slightest bit "Princeton" about House. Other than the aforementioned exterior shots of "Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital," there appears to be no location filming done in the area at all. The characters might as well be living in Hollywood for all that they have any apparent connection to Princeton. No one ever mentions seeing some famous performer at McCarter Theatre; no one ever waits in line outside P.J.'s Pancake House on a Saturday or Sunday morning; nobody ever goes to the huge Barnes & Noble just outside the town. No one complains about the traffic on Route 1 or the fact that there are no gas stations in the entirety of Plainsboro Township. There are no shots of the Seward Johnson statues near Palmer Square. No shots of Nassau Hall or Palmer Stadium. Nobody visits the new town library.

Princeton is a small town, but there's a surprising amount going on. (Far more than when I was a grad student here in the late 1970s, and a joke pamphlet entitled How to Have Fun in Princeton opened, "Get on the bus for New York," followed by nothing but blank pages.) If you're going to set your show here, shouldn't you grab more than just a vaguely recognizable name, like all the businesses for 30 miles around that rent a box in the Princeton Post Office so they can boast the address? It's like setting a show in San Francisco and filming it in Vancouver ($1 to the first person to get the reference; if you know one of my obsessions that appears occasionally in this blog, it's not that hard).

Would it kill the producers to give House a real Princeton flavor as well as the nominal setting? Although, to give them credit, the interior of "Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital" looks surprisingly Princeton-like with its handsome orange hints (orange being the dominant color around here, as the University's atheltic teams bear the nickname "Tigers").

House is a good show, and I realize that 99% of its viewers have no clue that its producers have no clue, nor do they care. But a little less on the formula and a little more of Princeton would make it a great show. Paying attention to details when you don't have to - giving your show a real sense of place - those can have an outsize effect for the effort required.

Oh, and don't make Greg House nice. We need more harmless curmudgeons.
Comments:
So right about House. I for one would like a bit more 'local flavor'. Also, this Vogler arc is going nowhere fast. It bugs me because Chi McBride is so Hugh Laurie's equal and they burn up the screen when they're on together. I'm sorry, is my House obsession as obvious as a neon sign on my forehead that reads, "Damn, that's one hot dude." Love me some arrogant bastard House.
 
House and Arrested Development are the only two shows on television I actually go out of my way to watch. I, too, would love to see some local flavor; I think it adds tremendously to shows. The abysmal Philly from a couple of years ago is a great case in point. I was living in Oregon at the time and went out of my way to watch it for the local references.
 
I think anyone who lives around there can relate. However, the majority of viewers couldn't tell a pancake house in Princeton from a pancake house in Hollywood! The show is in its infancy, on location shots probably cost the studio too much money.

Maybe with Hugh getting the Emmy recognition, they will center around the characters' lives outside the hospital....I've heard many posters on the official website mention that they would like to see more "off campus" scenes of where they live, where they go for a drink or out to dinner.
 
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Comments: "
So right about House. I for one would like a bit more 'local flavor'. Also, this Vogler arc is going nowhere fast. It bugs me because Chi McBride is so Hugh Laurie's equal and they burn up the screen when they're on together. I'm sorry, is my House obsession as obvious as a neon sign on my forehead that reads, "Damn, that's one hot dude." Love me some arrogant bastard House.
 
" "
House and Arrested Development are the only two shows on television I actually go out of my way to watch. I, too, would love to see some local flavor; I think it adds tremendously to shows. The abysmal Philly from a couple of years ago is a great case in point. I was living in Oregon at the time and went out of my way to watch it for the local references.
 
" "
I think anyone who lives around there can relate. However, the majority of viewers couldn't tell a pancake house in Princeton from a pancake house in Hollywood! The show is in its infancy, on location shots probably cost the studio too much money.

Maybe with Hugh getting the Emmy recognition, they will center around the characters' lives outside the hospital....I've heard many posters on the official website mention that they would like to see more "off campus" scenes of where they live, where they go for a drink or out to dinner.
 
" "
http://www.adquity.com
Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com
 
" Post a Comment

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