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Mama Deb
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House (Sort of Spoilers)

House</i> is a great series. The medicine is on the iffy side, but the actors and the characters are excellent. But my husband? Watches it for the opening sequence - Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital is played by the Princeton student center. (It, too, is excellent.)

However, other than that opening sequence, one has to wonder if the writers know much about Princeton or, rather, if they care about accuracy. After all, it's a fictional hospital even if it's in a very real town in New Jersey.

Let's take that last episode. As a television episode - oh, my goodness - it was terrific. But I had to think of it as happening in Random Town, USA. Why?

The main street in Princeton does not have apartments above the stores. In fact, the only apartment houses in the town itself is on the college campus (sayeth jonbaker, who graduated in 1987 but who was there as recently as a year ago.) There are also no strip joints in the town itself (there are on the highways, I suppose.) As for buses - *hah*. There's a campus shuttle that goes on the main street, but outside of the college, Princeton is mostly residential. Crosstown buses? No, not really. (New Brunswick, which is an actual city, didn't have buses, either, iirc, other than the fleet belonging to Rutgers.)

They seem to think Princeton is a bigger, more urban town than it really is. (They also seem to assume that frats play a role (there are frats, but eating clubs still predominate) and that Princeton does mid year graduations. Nope. Graduation is part of a whole end-of-school-year thing and that's that.)

It's clear to me that House exists in a different universe - obviously, because what's a student center in this universe is a hospital in that one. And now the iffy medicine makes sense, too. After all, why should the medicine match?


Heh. The train is the only way you are getting to Princeton. And not even that if you are going to work in Princeton in the morning, instead of going from Princeton to New York. (I Worked at Princeton for a summer.)

This isn't just getting to Princeton - it's getting around *in* Princeton itself.

Also - how many hospitals does it have, given that Princeton doesn't even have a medical school?

Current count in the Housiverse is three - PPTH, St. Sebastian's and Princeton General.

New Brunswick has two - St. Peter's and Robert Wood Johnson.

Never having been able to get to Princeton by public transit, I've never tried to get around with it either. :)

Also, for what it's worth, I was born in RWJ. It was "General Hospital" back then.

The only way it makes sense is if by "Princeton" they mean "Trenton".

This fills me with glee.

Does Trenton have a mass transit system (I know very little about it)?

If so, yes, it would then all make much more sense. Except why would the Princeton student center be there?

Ah, clearly it's just willing to relocate for a role.

Trenton has mass transit in the sense of regular bus routes through the city & out to the suburbs, and a couple of rail lines.

No, I meant the show has taken Princeton U, moved it into Trenton, and renamed "Trenton" as "Princeton". Certainly House's neighborhood (what I've seen of it) looks more like Chambersburg than it does like anything else in this half of the state.

huh? Didn't you try taking the bus from Port Authority?


I was traveling from Highland Park, NJ, so going to PA didn't make sense. I could have easily gotten the train in New Brunswick, however, if it would have been useful.

I'm assuming this is bercilakslady and am unscreening this.

I have this problem with CSI: NY a lot, they do okay with location shots and they integrate the setting into the show more-- but they get some fun fundamental things wroooong. (really? they couldn't get EZPass to okay the use of their name? And what native NYCer reeeeally uses a day pass? I mean, okay I can imagine it, but not as often as it appeared on the show sometimes.)

Jonathan loves making fun of Manhattan based cop series for that reason, although, yes, L&O does a better job.

Not always - they had a woman living in a warehouse district a couple of weeks ago on, I think, SVU.

I was watching an L&O episode last night, one of the early Briscoe-Green episodes, and they were making heavy use of the Surrogates Court building. The interior was the interior of the courthouse where they were arguing, and the western side was used for the exterior of the police precinct.

They use the Surrogates' Court for a lot of courthouse interior shots, it has this huge, ornate, orange-and-gold painted lobby, and it's not that busy most of the time. Sometimes they also use the lobby of the Municipal Building for courthouse hallways.

For courthouse exteriors, they do use one of the two big colonnaded courthouses along Centre Street, but they're both civil courts (I think one is State, the other Federal); the real Criminal Court is 80 Centre, which is this huge, ugly brown Art-Deco thing a block north of the white-colonnaded courthouses.

My first trip into Princeton was with Mercer Co. residents. My first reaction was, "Is that it? Just the college and some trees?" and they nodded back and said, "Yeah, that's pretty much it."

Yours is a similar problem that I have with TV shows or movies that play fast and loose with NYC geography, either to fill a plot hole or becuase the producers or writers don't know the city well. "Law & Order" has my respect because they actually film here and use mostly plausible street addresses. "Seinfeld" got a B minus because they filmed in L.A. and the exteriors for Seinfeld's home street were more proper to Greenwich Village than their alleged Upper West Side. I can usually tell pretty quickly where they're cutting corners in a script that specifies "New York".

I'm too much of a Brooklyn girl to really know Manhattan Geography, but L&O is clearly in its own universe anyway, what with Hudson University, the Ledger and the Daily Times. (And there are aliens. It's in the same universe as X-Files. We know this because they had a crossover with Munch. And, since St. Elsewhere character showed up on Homicide, and...well.

They're all in a snow globe.

I remember reading a Haldeman novel set partly in/around DC, as a fair number of espionage-related stories are, and suddenly realizing what felt so odd while I was reading it: the author had ovbiously spent some time in the area and actually knew where the [expletive] things were in relation to each other, what roads one would take to get to CIA headquarters, local traffic patterns, the fact that the CIA and the Pentagon are in VA, not DC, realistic walking times and directions between monuments downtown, and so forth.

It quite enhanced my enjoyment of the story once I identified the source of the odd feeling (which made it no longer feel odd).

But for a while there, conditioned by movies and television and one or two books that handwaved the geography, it felt very strange to feel I actually recognized the city in the story with the same name as the city I knew.

I call that "pinging"

That's the feeling you get if you read a novel set in a culture or area about which you know a great deal, but the author does NOT. They get big things right, if they try hard enough, but little things wrong, and those little things "ping".

A very good example of that is, I think, Charles Stross' "Merchant Prince" series. When I read it, I expected pinging because the protagonist was raised Jewish and writers often make cultural assumptions that just don't work. However, I got three or four pages in and not a ping on this count. This was surprising enough that I did some research. Turns out that, atheist though he is, Stross is also Jewish.

On the other hand, while he was VERY good on the language count, he was not perfect, and some Britishisms crept in despite the American setting, and, well. PING! It did help that the main character's adoptive mother is British (so her daughter might use some idioms) and much of the action took place elseuniverse where language conventions matter much less.

Absence of pinging can be as disconcerting as too much, but it's much more pleasant.

Hey, I thanked PBS for every British show that had a London locale. When I went there, I felt right at home.

I can't watch House for this very reason -- I keep wondering what world it's taking place in, and it distracts me.

Tiger Tiger Tiger Sis Sis Boom Boom Boom Ah

My tagline last year at Reunions: "If you watch House for the establishing shots, you just might be a Princetonian."

My favourite part of the werewolf ep of SPN was where they had all the white upper middle class people hanging out in Hunter's Point in San Francisco.

Um, no.

First of all, there is no place in San Francisco with houses that looked like the houses in that episode, and second of all Hunter's Point is a huge ghetto where no white upper middle class person in their right mind would ever be found after 10 PM walking home. Werewolves would be the least of your worries.

oh even better- i SAW the UCLA shuttle from the window of the bus they were re-enacting. They filmed the opening sequence of the 3rd season in front of UCLA as well. Yay, UCLA.

The main street in Princeton does not have apartments above the stores.

This will come as a shock to gildedacorn, who lives in an apartment above the CVS on Nassau St. accross from the Thomas Sweet's Ice Cream, or are we not counting that as accross from campus?

I'm not sure what Debbie was talking about "no apartments above stores". I think I said that there are no apartment *buildings*, but of course there are apartments in other buildings, like those big Tudor things across from Nassau Hall, which were boardinghouses in the 19th century, before the college built enough dorms.

The only apartment buildings I can think of are on campus, like the faculty/grad student housing on Faculty Road down by the lake. Unless, of course, things have changed in the last 20 years.

Change? In Princeton? Never! Why, they still go down to Evelyn, to meet the young ladies for tea and strolling.

Edited at 2008-05-20 12:42 pm (UTC)