“House” (no-one bothers with the “m.d.” – it is writ so tiny on the logo as to be almost invisible anyway) is a brilliant show. Superbly written and acted, it has something else that is unique – each season has a different story ARC.
Allow me to explain. When Gene Roddenberry designed the original “Star Trek” format, he allowed it to encompass EVERY genre of story-telling: drama, action, comedy and of course, science fiction. They even had the obligatory cowboy episode.
But in trying to please as many of the people as much of the time as possible, the show had a snag. If a person disliked any two of the rotating-genre stories, despite the fact they would probably like the third – they might ABANDON the series, before it aired.
Thus it was that when it finally came back, as TNG, the Trek’s writers introduced multiple story-lines. This meant that a typical episode would have a main story, that would begin and end in that episode – whilst a vignette that frequently had NOTHING to do with the main story, weaved its way in and out.
That way, even if someone did not like the main story – they would still be entertained by the “sub-plot”.
But in addition to those two stories, there would often be a THIRD.
However, this one would NOT begin and end in one episode – rather, it would ARC over several episodes – sometimes many – being picked up every time there was space for another dip into it.
Which brings us back to House – another story-driven series. But it is different – its arcs last for the ENTIRE SEASON.
Like Trek, each episode is complete – but nearly all shows move the season’s ARC along, too.
There was the story of House having to find a whole new team, deal with Amber (alive, then dead) go mad, then regain his sanity (barely) and now he and the curvaceous Cuddy are going to give it a go.
And these arcs generally last a WHOLE SEASON – which IS unique. It is kinda like the serials of old – designed to keep you coming back. But when the writing and acting (particularly that of Hugh Lawrie, whose American accent is ALMOST flawless) is of this calibre – most would keep coming back anyway. The serial element is just a bonus.
The only thought that wee-wees on my barbecue is – we are now in Season Seven. And no show has EVER managed to excel for more than ten. So how long can they keep DOING it…?