Idol Chatter

hughlauriehousesm.jpgEveryone’s favorite cantankerous, pill-popping physician has taken on organized religion, faith healing and has even aimed his sarcasm at atheists. And while House had to deal with Chase’s ontological/theological struggles and Cameron’s ethical quandaries, he’s never had to deal with one of his Fellows actually being religious. Until now.
At the end of last season, House’s fired Chase, and the other two Fellows Cameron and Foreman left as well. So now he’s on the hunt for a few more good men and women. Labeling them with just numbers, he whittles the group down through wit and whimsy, resulting in a humorous Broadway try-out atmosphere.
Number 18, a tall African-American male who has no compunction about being assigned to wash House’s car, turns out to be a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. (Although only referred to by number on the show, the show’s website states that his name is Jeffrey Cole.)
“You a Mormon? You’re wearing a ring from Brigham Young,” observes House. “Or did your folks just do the lawn?” he presses on, referring to the LDS Church’s restriction of ordination to men of African descent until 1978. Number 18 responds that “The Church has a very progressive attitude toward racial equality.” And so begins a wonderful new sparring partnership.

House needs Number 18 as a control for an unconventional test to be done on a woman’s liver – downing shots of tequila. The patient is in competition to become an astronaut and will not allow any invasive procedures that might leave scars or records.
18 balks at going against his beliefs, but House eventually convinces him to do the test by quoting scripture and asking if 18 would pull an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath. That sneaky House.
As the two throw back shots with the patient, House inquires about the Mormon “magic underwear” and wonders why 18’s religious beliefs were suddenly less important than the dreams of the patient.
“LDS doesn’t try to dictate every detail of our lives,” he says. “When a situation isn’t clear we’re encouraged to make our own decisions.” Plus, he says, House made a good argument.
A stunned House notes that, “Rational argument doesn’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.”
The joy of House is that the persnickety physician takes as good as he gets. The writers don’t shy away from giving his co-stars dynamic dialogue. The religious characters are not stereotypical or straw men, simply there so the protagonist can look witty and wise. Plus, I don’t recall a main Mormon character on television since the “South Park” “All About the Mormons” episode.
I’m hoping to see more of the witty repartee between House and Number 18 and tonight’s episode promises plenty of fodder as House aims to explore that murky area between life and death … himself.
House airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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