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Saturday, January 13, 2007

A bit of House and Laurie

Am I too old for role models? Is it too late in life to have someone that, you know, you want to be?

I'm not sure there are rules on such things, but all I can say is that in the past half-year I've really become aware of just how great a person Hugh Laurie is.

Sure, I've been a big fan of House, M.D. ever since the first season, but like most Americans (initially - including the executive producer of House, Bryan Singer) I had no clue that Laurie was British. This is mostly due to the fact that he has adopted a flawless American accent, but also in some small part because until this show, he hadn't been in anything memorable that was easily seen by U.S. audiences.

In England he's been well-known since the 1980's, in large part because of his excellent work in successful series like A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Blackadder, and Jeeves & Wooster. The BBC network and all of its programming are much more part of the pop culture mainstream down here in New Zealand than they are in the States, although there is no denying the steady growth of the BBC's popularity in recent years back home. But until I came over here, I had never heard of any of the above series that Laurie was in, save for Blackadder, and then only because of Rowan Atkinson's acclaim ("Mr. Bean" himself) and not Laurie's.

Seeing "House" in period satire, playing a total twit and dressed as an aristocrat was nothing but a pleasant (and hilarious) surprise. Since renting (then purchasing, natch) the Blackadder series, I have made a steady but voracious path through most of Laurie's television works. I am now the proud owner of A Bit and Jeeves & Wooster now as well, and I've given them all several repeat viewings.

Again, no need to remind me of my lack of social life. I sent away for one of those in the mail weeks ago, and it still hasn't arrived yet! So zip it.

Anyways, to all of you House fans out there (and I'd assume most of you like Laurie as well as the show, unless you are so repulsed by his portrayal of the intensely caustic doctor that you care not for his 'real' persona), I'd highly recommend any and all of these BBC classics to watch. Only then will you appreciate just how excellent the man is at acting. Hell, performing in general. I see that he was just guest host of Saturday Night Live (and damn it all, I missed it!) and that on there you get a glimpse of his musical talents. I remember from some episodes of House that you see Laurie playing the piano, and possibly the guitar as well, but I don't remember him singing.

The chemistry between he and Stephen Fry makes the both of them better, and you cannot watch any of the aforementioned BBC series and not take notice of the excellent Fry as well. It's easy to be a fan of both actors, and hopefully in a future series of House we'll be treated to having Fry as a guest on the show. That will be a real keeper and I can't wait to see what they do with it. The show's writers will be very hard pressed indeed to keep Fry & Laurie from taking over the show themselves!

The one other thing that sort of puts Laurie 'over the top' for me as a role model is his ability to write. As talented an actor, singer, and musician as Laurie is, he's equally remarkable as an author. Even though I knew how good he was on-screen, I sort of scoffed at the notion that he'd make for a quality writer as well. The man can't be that good, can he?

Oh, but he can. If you are an avid reader like myself, do yourself a favor and check out his lone novel (to date), called The Gun Seller. It is nothing earth-shattering but it is an engaging work and highly entertaining. There is a script in development somewhere about it, and Laurie's second novel is due out September 2007, so I am eagerly anticipating that.

I may be preaching to the choir here if you are already as big a fan of Laurie's as I am. Then again, he's so damned talented you might just as well hate him. But to see his earlier comedic works and to see him now as Gregory House is to appreciate just how much range this guy has as an actor. For example, look at a still shot of his House character and it's almost chilling how much that role has transformed Laurie. For the now.

I am hoping for a reprise of Fry & Laurie one day, but both men are so busy now I'm not sure that's a realistic hope. Perhaps if I hone my writing and acting talents quite a bit more (quite a lot more), and then just learn to play the guitar, piano and harmonica, and then learn to sing, and find a comedy partner as versatile and formidable as Stephen Fry, I can pick up where that show left off!

Cha! And monkeys might fly out of my butt.


Blogger Beechball * said...

Hehehe, does Brandon have a bit of a Man-crush or what? lol j/k - I know what'cha mean, when somethings good and there's no denying it, it's hard to ignore! I unfortunately have never seen "House" but it's not because I don't want to, it's actually because I know I would like it that I choose not to watch it. I have a hard enough time as it is concentrating on school that I really can't afford to be involved with another show that'll steal my time away. Same goes for Sex in the City, Desperate Housewives, Gray's Anatomy, and as I mentioned already, House. I try to just stick to the few and be good with those, and tell myself that if those other shows are so good, I'll just buy the box sets later :P You should watch the American version of "The Office" if you don't already - I love, love, love it! :) Yay!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Lol Lyndsay, yeah it is rather a 'gushy' piece I wrote there about Hugh, isn't it? It's strictly platonic, I can assure you. *manly cough* Anyways, yes I'm the very same way about television: there are so many good shows out there but I force myself to avoid them because before I know it, I'll be spending all weekend just watching pre-recorded shows to keep up with 8 or 10 of them! I didn't watch ANY television for almost two years once, because just prior to that I had been so hooked on so many shows. I've seen both the UK and USA "The Office" and like both immensely! Hilarious stuff :)

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I've been a big fan of House since the start of the show. Hugh Laurie is stellar in his portrayal of that love to hate him asshole doctor who is always right. I saw him recently on Bravo's Actors Studio and he blew me away with his piano playing and singing and wit. You can use his personna Brandon in your practice in NZ. Be the caustic, know it all, lovable vet.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Glad you like him too, Kathy. It's sick how talented he is, isn't it?? But.. the Gregory House character is such a far cry from his earlier work, which to me means he's just that much more talented an actor to play such diverse roles. It's true what they say, comedy is harder than straight up drama, so anyone who's naturally witty can tackle anything!

5:49 PM  

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