|From Exclusive Magazine
|Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, MD
By: Barbara Barnett
(Paperback / 352 pages / Ecw Press / ISBN: 1550229559 / $17.95)Description: ‘Chasing Zebras’ is a resource for seasoned fans, an atlas for new viewers, and a guide for students of television, film and pop culture. It combines Barnett’s insights with details from her numerous interviews with the show’s writers, producers and actors.
Verdict: Now, and for the record, House is not my kind of guy – too rude – but the show appealed to me for some reason. This book helped me understand why. House claims he only cares about solving the medical mysteries, yet somehow you sense that he really has compassion for many of his patients. The book explains the subtle comments and signs that indicate he does.
It reflects skillful scriptwriting and acting. In addition, the book’s in-depth analysis of House as a brilliant but troubled person humanizes him and creates a level of sympathy that somewhat excuses his behavior. The other main characters are profiled as well. These profiles are a reminder that the more you know about someone – on TV or in real life – the more connected with them you feel.What this book really did for me, though, was teach me to better understand and appreciate good scriptwriting. Author Barnett, whose own writing I found impressive, explains how the stories and the characters are developed and presented. I plan to watch the show more often, and will be looking and listening more closely for things that reveal motives and insights into the personalites of the characters. I think anyone reading this book will become a smarter viewer, not only of this series, but of other dramas. [JVO]
For any fan completely stoked about the return of Gregory House to the Fox TV network this fall, pay close attention – Chasing Zebras: The Unoffi cial Guide to House, M.D. is the perfect primer and referential resource for this fantastic show. A major benefi t to sourcing unofficial material when it comes to program compendiums is that readers are privy to alternative insights and perspectives that don’t always make it into a sanctioned book. By the same token, author Barbara Barnett has accessed many people on the creative staff behind the show, which has helped shape her comprehensive analysis. Barnett claims she can be considered obsessed when it comes to House, and her fanaticism is the key component that sells this book, as she gently draws readers into her obsession as well. The book allows fans the opportunity to brush-up on certain episodes, or get a bigger picture of how the show has developed over the course of six seasons. But there’s a lot more here than just programming notes. Barnett discusses the criticisms that fans had regarding casting changes, and how the network attempted to resolve them. She explores the technical modifi cations Fox made to commercial breaks, which interrupted the program’s pacing and literally forced transformations to the format of the show. Because of this depth, Chasing Zebras offers more to readers than standard television compendiums might normally. It’s a level of attention that even House himself would likely respect. –Brian McQueen
Chasing Zebras is available now in the U.S. from your local bookseller (B/N, Borders, many independents) or from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or Borders online (or your favorite online bookseller). The book will be out in Europe and worldwide October 28.
- I’ve changed the look of my blog to work with my new website, which is being relaunched next week at http://barbarabarnett.com. Things are beginning to gear up for the release of Chasing Zebras: the Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. I’ve seen the interior design of the book, and it is beautiful! I can’t wait to actually see the whole thing–and then, of course, actually hold it in my hands.
- I will try to post every day as the summer goes on. Next week is Book Expo North America (BEA). I won’t be there, but my publisher ECW Press will be, and for the first time Chasing Zebras will be trotted out in public. The book is complete and and edited and at the typesetters except for the updates for the season six finale. On the other hand, so much has changed as a result of the finale, there are little updates all over the place to make the book current to the start of the seventh season!
- The whole team at ECW Press has been a dream to work with on this. It’s my first book, and I’ve heard so many nightmare stories about authors (especially new authors) and their trials and tribulations with their publishers. My agent, likewise, has also been a dream. An author could not have asked for a more pleasant first-time experience than I have had thus far.
- The launch date is still more than 3 months away and we have a long publicity road ahead, with interviews, signings, etc. So it will be a busy, busy summer and fall. Once the site is launched next week, there will be a calendar of radio appearances, and any other upcoming events, including a launch party in September.
- In the meantime, there is still time to bid on an autographed copy of Chasing Zebras (and an hour of online chat about the show with me) at brenda novak’s auction to support diabetes research. It’s an amazing auction and lots of great stuff for writers, readers and everyone else. Here’s the link to the auction itself and to my item
I’ve also been very busy over at Blogcritics the past week or two, with two new interviews:
Several other new pieces, including my review of the season finale
Article first published as A Chat With House, M.D. Writer/Producer Doris Egan on “Baggage” and More on Blogcritics.
Doris Egan took time out of a day-long season seven story meetings (she’s writing next season’s premiere) to talk to me about this week’s penultimate episode “Baggage” and on writing House. Many in the House fan community were sad to learn on Egan’s blog that she is cutting back next year on her involvement in the series to concentrate on other things. As a consulting producer next season, she will only write one episode. “We’ll see how many of my projects work out. I want at least to make the attempt to (among other things) write a new book. My editor has stopped asking when the new book will be written.” The good news is that we won’t have to wait long for that one episode; she’s writing the season seven premiere!
With the series since season two, Egan has penned some of the series best episodes, including “Don’t Ever Change” (with Leonard Dick, for which they recieved a Writers Guild nomination). She has become known to fans of the House-Wilson relationship as St. Doris for her take on their friendship, but has also become the House road trip maven.
So Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is available for pre-order in several more places both here and abroad. It’s being sold at Barnes and Noble, Borders and at Amazon UK and Canada (and of course the US site). And we’re still five-plus months from the street date. (And a lovely picture of the cover has finally been added to the Amazon and B/N sites !)
With the London Book fair next month and North American Book Expo in May, things have only started. I’m still waiting the copyeditor’s changes (and slightly fearing the sharp blue pencil that I, myself, have wielded from time to time). The next several months will fly by I’m sure.
So, in honor of all this, I’d like to give you a sneak peek at the book’s Table of Contents and direct you to the book’s website for even more of a peek at the six-season episode guide:
(Please note that this Table of Contents is still preliminary and the order might change as the book moves through the publication process).
TABLE of CONTENTS
Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.
Introduction: Elementary, my dear Wilson
Sidebar: Finding a Holmes in (the) House: An Interview with a House-loving Holmesian
Sidebar: Cast of Characters
Differential Diagnosis: A Character Study Wrapped in a Mystery Wrapped in a Medical Procedural
Sidebar Formulas are made to be broken
Sidebar: Drama vs. Medical Accuracy: A Balancing Act
Sidebar: When it Doesn’t “Fit”
Dr. Gregory House: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know
Sidebar: When House’s Objectivity Fails Him
Sidebar: House the Linguist
From Bach to Eddie Van Halen: The Music of House, M.D.
Boy Wonder Oncologist: Dr. James (“Jimmy”) Wilson
Sidebar: The Impact of Amber’s Death: A Closer Look at “Dying Changes Everything”
Sidebar: It’s Not All About the Neediness
Smart, Funny and Zesty: Dr. Lisa Cuddy
Sidebar The “Ball of Unknown Origin”
Sidebar: The Mutual Admiration of Stephen Colbert and Dr. Gregory House
Caring Until Her Eyes Pop Out: Dr. Allison Cameron
His Father Made a Phone Call: Dr. Robert Chase
Like House, But Nicer—Dr. Eric Foreman
House’s Fellows: Imprinting on the Daddy Doc
PART II: THE GUIDE
Guide to the Guide
Season 1: Patients Make Us Miserable
Sidebar: Before the Leg
Sidebar: An Odd Sort of Humility: A closer look at “DNR”
Sidebar: A Closer Look at “Role Model”
Sidebar: God, Religion and Hypocrisy
Season 2: Settling into the Story
Sidebar: House and Medical Mistakes
Sidebar: House’s Windmill: Death–A Closer Look at “All In”
Sidebar: Ketamine: A Closer Look at “No Reason”
Broken: House, Pain and Drugs
Season 3: Finding Meaning
Sidebar: The Happiness Scale: A Closer Look at “Lines in the Sand”
Sidebar: Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
Doing the Right Thing: House and Ethics
Season 4: A Shakeup at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital
Sidebar: Diagnostics Team 2.0
Sidebar: Learning to be a Doctor from a Doctor Like House
Sidebar: A Closer Look at “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart”
The Enigmatic, Unlucky “13”
I Cheat: Dr. Christopher Taub
The Tragedy of Dr. Lawrence Kutner
Sidebar: People Don’t Change: A Closer Look at “Don’t Ever Change”
Season Five: Upheaval and the Ultimate Escape
Sidebar: Coincidence vs. Divine Intervention–A Closer Look at “Unfaithful”
Sidebar: Kutner’s Death and House’s Crash
Sidebar: Diagnosing Dr. House: A Conversation with a Clinical Child Psychologist
Appendix: “Time is Not a Fixed Construct” Continuity and the Series Timeline
Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.
Coming September 2010 from ECW Press–and now available for preorder on Amazon.com
A new book about the series House, M.D.!
Also, please visit my author site for updates on the book, excerpts, etc. in the weeks to come.
Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is the essential companion to one of television’s most popular and fascinating series. Using her unique perspective and insight into the show, writer Barbara Barnett, noted as “one of the industry’s leading experts on the series,” immerses fans new and old into the heart and soul television’s most compelling series. It will be a dog-eared resource for seasoned fans, an indispensable atlas to anyone new to the show, and valuable guide to students of television, film and pop culture.
House, MD is a study in contradictions: straightforward medical procedural on the outside; intricate character drama within. No wonder the acclaimed series is the most watched television show in the world.
Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D takes readers deep within the series’ rich layers—into the heart of its central character and his world:
Who is this medical Sherlock Holmes? Is he simply a misanthropic jerk with a brutal sense of humor–or a tormented romantic hero in the tradition of Byron?
- How do House’s colleagues and patient relate to and reflect him and each other?
- How do the music, settings, even the humor enhance our understanding of the series narrative?
- What does the series say about modern medicine? Ethics? Religion?
Writing about House for Blogcritics magazine, I thought it would be nice to develop a book to serve as a guide for the intelligent fans of the show. Rather than a straight-on episode guide, I wanted to do a book about the series’ character and story narratives and the themes, it would provide intelligent and thoughtful analysis of the complex series.
I’m not really a television watcher, but when I started watching House, I was immediately drawn to the writing and the indelible performance of Hugh Laurie as the central character. Always fascinated by romantic anti-heroes, especially “Byronic Heroes,” I felt that there was much lurking beneath the surface of this “medical procedural drama.”
Like my Blogcritics.com blog “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process,” Chasing Zebras takes readers between the lines and action and takes an introspective look at House and his world.
House demands deeper thinking and analysis than most TV shows. Sure it’s fun to laugh at House’s antics; cringe at his anti-social behavior and grin the interplay between the characters. But the show is much more than that. House is meant to provoke discussion and thought. House offers commentary on everything from ethics to mental illness, race, relationships, family dysfunction, sex. The scripts are fragile and intricate Faberge Eggs and half the fun is getting inside them to poke around and find the inner depths within the writing and performances.
I am doing a very unscientific survey of the House fandom for a very large project, which will become public in the next few months.
Thanks for participating in this. Please let me know if I can quote you or use your name (and which name—screen name or real name).
- When did you first start watching the show?
- What first drew you to it—made you come back and keep watching?
- What do you like best about the show?
- What annoys you (if anything) and why?
- In what ways do you think the show has changed over the past years?
- Do you like it more, less or the same, and why?
- House is really several shows in one. There is the medical mystery, of course, the patients and their stories, the hospital characters and their stories—and then there’s House and his story. Is there one aspect you watch for? Or the show as a whole? Elaborate.
- Do you advocate for any of the various relationships on House? Which one(s)?
- Who are your favorite writers on the series? Least?
- Favorite episodes —try to name one for each season if possible
- Least favorite episodes?
- The since mid-season one, the series has worked through various character arcs and story arcs: Vogler, Stacy, Tritter, Survivor arc, for example. What do you think of these…too long, badly crafted? Wonderful? Please elaborate on what you like and dislike about them?
- Do you read fanfiction? Why? Do you have a particular preference for the type of House fanfic?