Fortunately, the first episode of next season will be in August!
House Season Finale
Fox to Start New Season in August
By David Hiltbrand Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
It's hard to imagine a more disagreeable TV doctor than the title character of Fox's quirky medical drama, House. Gregory House is brusque, cynical and misanthropic. And that's when he's in a generous mood.
Hugh Laurie, who plays this toxic New Jersey infectious-diseases specialist, describes House's bedside manner as "nonexistent."
"A large part of his day is spent avoiding being bedside at all. There have been a couple of shows where he hasn't even spoken to his patient."
Certainly, no one would accuse House of being a workhorse. "He's just plain lazy," Laurie says. "There is a streak in him, a rather adolescent avoidance of responsibility."
The show wasn't much of a self-starter, either, languishing after its November debut. But since acquiring American Idol as a lead-in in January, House's average viewership has vaulted from 6.5 million to 16.2 million per week, an increase of 149 percent. That audience will probably increase for tonight's 9 p.m. season finale, preceded by the performance half of Idol's two-part season-ender.
With the series now a consistent Top 10 Nielsen performer, Greg House has become one of prime time's favorite antiheroes. In each episode, he and his team try to cheat death by curing fast-developing illnesses that defy diagnosis.
What makes the brilliant but brackish House so compelling, despite his many flaws?
"I think the audience senses his unhappiness and can tell he is tormented by various demons," Laurie says. "That mitigates his cruelty. He dislikes himself as much as he dislikes his fellow man."
Laurie, 45, spoke last week from a hotel suite in Manhattan where he is about to take part in the network's unveiling of its fall schedule. "I do the beauty parade this afternoon. I see there's a half-hour allotted to grooming. That's intriguing."
With his mellifluous Oxbridge accent, the urbane Englishman is an unlikely choice to play an abrasive American, especially since his forte has always been light comedy, such as Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder.
He was in Africa making the film Flight of the Phoenix when he got the audition pages for House. "When pilot season comes around, all the actors on the set are getting scripts sent to them," says Laurie, who enlisted a castmate to help him tape his House scene.
"I held the camera for him while he did his audition for something else, then he held the camera for me."
He wouldn't have gotten the part if his American accent weren't so convincing. The show's executive producers, creator David Shore and director Bryan Singer, had already seen an army of actors.
"It attracted a lot of people, and, oddly, we saw a lot of English actors," Shore recalls. "Bryan got tired of it, because they couldn't sustain the accent. 'I can't see any more foreign actors,' he finally said. The next day we got Laurie's tape in the mail and Singer said, 'Why can't we see more actors like this?'
"I waited a few days before pointing out that Hugh is English."
Laurie picked up his Yankee diction from the telly.
"In England we get a huge amount of American TV shows," he says. "It's pretty grim but that was my schooling. I still have good days and bad days. On the bad days, I'm really struggling with the accent. Anything with an R is a big problem. Federal court order is very difficult. Coronary artery is almost impossible."
American TV is far more demanding because the season is three times as long.
"It's a similar work schedule on British TV, but we only make six shows," he notes. "Being on a show that goes on for nine months - that is a strange concept for an English actor. I've never worked this hard, but the fact is I love it. Of course, there have been some days where the thought of taking off for Rio has become very appealing."
In fact, Laurie is about to head home to visit his wife, Jo, and children, Charlie, 16; Bill, 14; and Rebecca, 11. He has had little time off because he recently finished tonight's finale. And Fox wants an early August start for the series' second season.
"This doesn't qualify as the term hiatus itself," Laurie says of his break. "It's more of a hi."