Television is a brutal business. That’s why it’s often reason to celebrate when a show lasts even 10 episodes.
It’s the rare series that can survive the ever-shifting interests of viewers and the fickleness of critics to hit the 100-episode mark. Because it’s such a tough task, typically the 100th episode is a special one.
There is nothing about “House” that can be considered typical, including the rather lackadaisical way the cast and crew are approaching tonight’s milestone episode (8 p.m., KAYU-28, cable channel 3 in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene).
“I’m glad we are getting the publicity. But I’m kind of going, ‘Why is this episode different than 90? If we had nine fingers, would Episode 81 be the big one?’ ” says executive producer David Shore.
As far as Shore is concerned, episode 100 is no different than 99 was and 101 will be.
“It’s another really good episode,” he says.
By “good,” Shore means Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) will mix his medical mastery with quips designed to get under the skins of his fellow workers and friends. His staff will juggle dealing with the barbs and trying to solve the oddball medical mystery of the week.
And, just before the hour runs out, House will get a look of revelation on his face.
It is a formula that has worked since the show launched in 2004. Of course, the problem with using a formula is that it comes with a certain degree of predictability.
Shore argues the nature of the show limits the possibilities needed to be unpredictable. Either the patient lives or the patient dies; there is no middle ground.
“I don’t think people watch it going, ‘Oh, I wonder if (the patient will) get better,’ ” Shore says. “I think they are watching and going ‘What’s House going to do, and how is everybody going to react to that, and what is the challenge, and what are the obstacles, and how are they going to get through those obstacles?’
“And so keeping that aspect of it surprising is the fun part.”
Much of that fun comes from Laurie’s portrayal of the title character. Sure, he’s a super sleuth when it comes to solving medical mysteries. But the good doctor can be as annoying as a plane full of crying babies.
“I suppose there’s a big jerk inside me. There must be,” Laurie says. “That’s the only explanation.
“There are all sorts of aspects of his character that I feel very sympathetic to. And what a lot of people describe as his jerkiness, I think he’s sort of more complicated than that. I don’t think it’s quite as easy to dismiss it.”