House is perhaps not the first Sherlock Holmes adaptation that springs to mind. After all, it’s not about an English detective fighting crime. But it’s still based on Sherlock Holmes, just an alternate universe version where Holmes is a maverick doctor who solves those (medical) cases no ordinary person can.
But what’s really interesting is where House takes this central character, a man flawed but more brilliantly intelligent than anyone around him. There is no direct Watson substitute in House the TV series, despite the character of Wilson supposedly holding that role. He’s usually referred to as House’s only friend, and for a while the two of them are flatmates. But in the first couple of series, excepting a few episodes, Wilson’s role is to walk down corridors with House and say something banal which breaks the case wide open. No, House’s fellows are far more like his Watsons, helping him out on cases and looking impressed when he pulls the correct diagnosis out of the air.
But does House work? As a Sherlock Holmes adaptation, yes; the mysteries are compelling, and although House is occasionally formulaic to the point of parody (patient guaranteed to get worse at least three times, at the 10, 20 and 30 minute mark), maybe that just ties it in more as a Holmes adaptation. After all, Holmes will nearly always solve the case.
And as a TV drama? The relationships work, the acting is superb and it’s generally well shot. House is proof that Sherlock Holmes doesn’t need to be entirely faithful to be good fun.