Television: Scorn Is the Best Medicine

And it makes for good TV, as proved by Fox's House

You've heard of killing with kindness? Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) believes in curing with contempt. He is a gifted diagnostician who is fascinated by disease. But patients he can do without. He insults them, talks down to them and forgets their names--when he speaks to them at all. "How can you treat someone without meeting him?" asks a patient's father. "It's easy," he says, "if you don't give a crap about him."

House is, in other words, the opposite of what a TV doctor is supposed to be--and the most enjoyable new character of the fall. Without him, House (Fox,...