Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. by Barbara Barnett

Edition:  Paperback 
Language:  English 
ISBN:  1550229559
No. of Pages:  352
Publish Date:  9/1/2010


"I look for zebras because other doctors have ruled out all the horses." — Dr. Gregory House Medical students are taught that when they hear hoofbeats, they should think horses, not zebras, but Dr. House's unique talent of diagnosing unusual illnesses has made House, M.D. one of the most popular and fascinating series on television. In Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., Barbara Barnett, widely considered a leading House expert, takes fans deep into the heart of the show's central character and his world, examining the way this medical Sherlock Holmes's colleagues and patients reflect him and each other; how the music, settings, and even the humor enhance our understanding of the series' narrative; what the show says about modern medicine, ethics, and religion; and much more. Complete with an episode-by-episode guide and numerous interviews with cast members, producers, and writers, Chasing Zebras is an intelligent look at one of television's most popular shows

Read an Excerpt:

“It is an axiom of medicine: “when you hear hoofbeats, you think horses, not zebras.” Dr. Gregory House and his elite team of diagnostic fellows chase medicine’s “zebras” — the anomalies, the odd presentations, the diseases so rare that most doctors would not have encountered them in a normal medical practice. 

House, M.D. is, itself, a zebra in a herd of horses. It is a rare find of a show blessed with consistently sharp, intelligent writing: densely packed and multifaceted. It features one of the most complex characters ever to have been written for the small screen, Dr. Gregory House, brought to life through Hugh Laurie’s brilliant and nuanced performance.

I grew up on TV. By age nine, I was hooked on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and by 11, I was addicted to Star Trek classic. Nowadays, I have little time for series television. But when I get hooked on a television show, I really get hooked, and so it is with House, M.D.

Whenever the media say that women are attracted to House because he’s a “bad boy,” I tend to cringe first and then shake my head in disagreement. I don’t like “bad boys” — real or fictional. I like my heroes, well . .. heroic. Heroic, but tragically flawed: equal parts Mr. Knightley and Edward Rochester; Mr. Spock and Rick Blaine.

House has a “public persona” and also one he keeps tightly under wraps, reluctant to reveal — to anyone. Publicly, he’s a brilliant diagnostician, intuitive, deductive, and eerily smart. He’s also a risk taker and more than a tad reckless.

In many ways he’s an adolescent boy constantly hatching his next manipulation or elaborate game. He’s crude and rude. House’s closest associates tell us that House cares only about the puzzle. No messiah complex for him; he has a Rubik’s complex instead. But how does this image reconcile with the times we’ve seen him gazing yearningly from behind the glass into patient rooms, watching them with their families? How often do we observe the arrogant and egotistical Gregory House late at night, alone in his office or apartment, desperately searching for answers inside himself long after everyone else has gone home? Like the show that bears his name, House is as complex and rare as the medical cases he takes on: a zebra amongst the horses.

This book is a highly subjective look at a great television series through one fan’s perspective. Another writer might focus on the medicine, the humor, or the mysteries. But I view House, M.D. fundamentally as a detailed character study: House’s journey, his struggles, and the people in his orbit. This is the lens through which I enjoy House — and through which I understand it.

There are chapters here on the writing, the structure, and the elements that make House, M.D. such a fascinating series. There are chapters on each of the characters and some of the show’s oft-visited themes viewed through “closer looks” at key episodes. I’ve also included an extensive six-season episode guide.

Although there are episode guides all over the Internet offering episode recaps and credits (and even in-depth analyses, including my feature at Blogcritics), this guide is slightly different. It’s a road map through the series, showing you the highlights from six seasons: memorable scenes, House’s patented eureka moments, clinic patients, relationship highlights, music, and more — all from a fan’s perspective.”

My Review:

I have been a fan of the House tv series for the entire 7 seasons that is has been on.  Having a love for public health and the medical field, I was drawn to this show and have been hooked ever since.  This is a great book for House fans, or those who are interested in learning more about this popular tv series. 

What I love about this book, is that is set up so you can choose what topics or episodes you want to read about.  You don't have to sit down and read this book all in one sitting.  Instead, flip through and read up on episodes you missed.  Barnett summarizes each episode (Season 1- 6) storyline, as well as shares information on the characters that were in each.  Barnett doesn't work for the television series, but, is a fan just like me.  She delves into every aspect of the show and shares with fans and newcomers everything they need to know or missed in this comprehensive guide.

About the Author:

Barbara Barnett is a columnist and editor with Blogcritics

She also writes lots of other things, including technology (from a non-geek perspective), the movies, politics and all things Jewish. Based in the north shore suburbs of Chicago, Barnett is married with two brilliant children and a dog.

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Chasing Zebras, the Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is published by the ECW Press and is available in bookstores nationwide and online

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by the author in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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