Thursday, July 26, 2007

A drama with scientists

TV's had plenty of shows based around hospitals, with doctors providing the main characters. Right now, there's the fantastic Scrubs, which can only be described using superlative adjectives like witty, smart, hilarious, brilliant, as close to a hospital setting as it really can be, brilliant characterization, and a great cast with perfect timing. The only thing missing are a few Indian doctors (what's an American hospital without Indian doctors?). Then there's House, M.D., which started out with a big bang and at the time was "riveting". But with dramas like House you're eventually going to run out of outrageous diseases and inexplicable symptoms (at least in order for it to be believable). After that you're left with the cast to carry the series through. Luckily they have the extremely talented Hugh Laurie as House, and the dynamics of his character with the rest of the cast is terrific. Incidentally, if you haven't seen it, I'll throw in a plug for Laurie's perfect performance as Bertie Wooster in the "Jeeves and Wooster" series. There's also Grey's Anatomy. Yawn.

But I'm yet to see a show on TV which is based in a research lab. OK, so you think scientists are dorks with no social life and even less than no social skills. But you'll be surprised at how much drama there can be in a lab. There can be the principal investigators, and almost all of them out there are interesting characters. Some are dynamic, some bombastic, some reticent, some passive-aggressive, some utterly dull boring.....

And then there are all the people in the lab. You have technicians and secretaries. You have young, rookie grad students who are cocky and know nothing. You have senior grad students, desperate to finish their Ph.D.'s. And then you have the postdocs, who vary from competent to completely useless. All of them come with different personalities, from selfless team players to selfish troublemakers, and pleasant, happy personalities to eternally bitter and cynical grumblers.

If you thought The office was great, just imagine how much more can be done with a drama series on scientists in a lab. All the drama and personal dynamics AND dazzling science, and plenty of jargon for script writers to impress audiences with. Throw in some hot microscopic images, and we have a winner.

Now, does NBC want me to write a script for them, and pay me millions?


Anonymous said...

you forgot something! shouldn't the researchers be working on some mysterious "It" which breaks loose and becomes a giant monster hell bent on wrecking the city....and one of the scientists whom nobody likes (he is too good looking, see), goes on a crusade to save New York :)

Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

It's not a lab per se, but Numb3rs does a fairly reasonable job of capturing some of the non-obvious aspects of academic life

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

Indeed, there's lots of scope...but frankly, I wouldn't want to watch it, after having enough of it in my daily life.

Unknown said...

Reminds me of Allegra Goodman's Intuition.
Read it?

Anonymous said...

Never seen Regenesis?

Veo Claramente said...

I was going to ask the same thing, have you read Intuition? Eerily accurate portrayal of a lab.
Apparently House is going to have an Indian doctor next season, in the person of the ubiquitous Kal Penn

Anonymous said...

NBC? Nah. You should try Fox. They have such great programming... ;)

Thanu said...

All CSI shows, show the lab and how things are done, but that is not the main story line

Anonymous said...

good fun! yeah, one of them "invents" a pair of sunglasses that makes the wearer invisible and dies and his son, the hero retrieves it from the baddie, saves the world etc etc.

as an aside, I just bought the Jeeves and Wooster series - I found Fry too young to play Jeeves - I have always pictured Jeeves as old - I don't know why - anyone else feels this way?

Sunil said...

ah yes apu....jurassic lab. How could I forget.

Suresh....I've actually never seen Numb3rs, but I think I should. Is it on PBS?

heh...ipanema, you do have a point, but I think I wouldn't mind watching something like that and laughing about it :-)

yhac, veo....all of a sudden I'm hearing a lot about Intuition. I just read a (rather good) review of the book on Molecular Interventions, and two other people told me about it. I might actually go and read it now. There was an older book, "The search for the oncogene" (mostly about Bob Weinberg's and Mike Wigler's labs searching for ras, I think) that wasn't too bad. Not sure about Kal Penn on House though :-)

Anonymous...actually I haven't even heard of it good?

Witnwisdumb....I'll take The office and Scrubs to American Idol any day (though I do like Idol).

Thanu....I don't like the CSI shows. Rather terrible really, and I don't think ANY lab is like those. Mr. India analogies...that's no good. Any way, that was an example of a rather bad stereotyping of a nerdy scientist :-). As far as Jeeves goes....I actually never thought Jeeves was very old. The books give me the impression of someone in his thirties, quite capable of enjoying the good life when it came to it.

Mosilager said...

I saw this picture from a VWR product brochure and immediately thought of this post.

Sunil said...

mosilager....that's awesome! Thanks. :-)

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