Universal // 2010 // 1007 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 30th, 2011
He's sarcastic, incorrigible, bitter and in a relationship?
Like the last several years, Season Six ended with a pretty shocking revelation. Rather than the pretty downbeat endings of those recent seasons, it ended on a surprisingly touching, perhaps even hopeful note. Those last 30 seconds, featuring a rather serious-looking embrace between Cuddy and House, could completely alter the trajectory of the show. However, the show faces a bind: if that embrace was just a tease, we might feel cheated; if it's real and goes somewhere, it could change the things that make the show great. The writers were obviously well aware of these problems, and it's to their credit that they manage to take the Cuddy/House development seriously without turning the show into a sappy romance. I won't spoil anything, but suffice to say that their relationship, though consummated, stays compelling through these episodes. Coupling the Cuddy/House romance with the excellent Blu-ray presentation on House, M.D. Season Seven is sure to please fans.
Cuddy and House are an item now as the season begins. They'll struggle with how public to take their love and what their past might mean for their future. Meanwhile, the team is down a member in Thirteen's absence, which introduces us to eager-beaver med student Martha M. Masters (Amber Tamblyn, Joan of Arcadia). Of course, there are almost two dozen medical mysteries to solve this season. All twenty-three episodes of this season are presented on five discs:
* "Now What?"
* "Massage Therapy"
* "Unplanned Parenthood"
* "Office Politics"
* "A Pox on Our House"
* "Small Sacrifices"
* "Larger Than Life"
* "Carrot or Stick"
* "Family Practice"
* "You Must Remember This"
* "Two Stories"
* "Recession Proof"
* "Out of the Chute"
* "Fall from Grace"
* "The Dig"
* "Last Temptation"
* "The Fix"
* "After Hours"
* "Moving On"
Now in its seventh season, House, M.D. is in a bit of a bind. See, the show is not called The Diagnostics Department of Princeton-Plainsboro. Greg House is obviously the main draw, and no matter how compelling the lives of his companions get, they're really only there to support his misanthropic lifestyle. Which is sort of a shame, as it butts the show into an awkward place. Now that the House/Cuddy relationship has blossomed, there aren't that many places for the show to go. If House continues like he is, he'll end up dead. If he gets happy, the show becomes infinitely less interesting. It's this wall that Season Seven runs into. Despite some valiant attempts, though, they've yet to figure out a way around it.
However, knowing that the writers are going to find making newer seasons of House, M.D. more and more difficult only highlights just how good this season really is. Much of that is down to the House/Cuddy relationship, which goes fairly predictably but is so well-handled that it's easy to forget we knew where it was going. More importantly, the team steps up to offer their own storylines that make them even more well-developed characters. I was initially resistant to the introduction of Masters -- we've already seen House put the new recruits through their paces, so doing it again seemed redundant -- but again it was so well-handled on an episode-by-episode basis that I could forgive the fact that it was a trick the writers had already used.
This season is also helped by the high standard of medical mysteries that anchor each episode. Sure it's still patient-of-the-week and House usually gets his crazy revelation, but the characters and their ailments are interesting. We get to see everything from a guy who reenacts the crucifixion to a performance artist turning her illness into art.
This is actually my first exposure to House, M.D. in HD, and it's VC-1 encoded transfers are impressive as I'd hoped. Detail is impressive throughout, and color saturation is spot on. Most impressive, though, is the reproduction of the shows many visual tricks. Some episodes are darker or more colorful than others, and these transfer play to the strengths of individual episodes. Noise is never a significant issue, nor is compression artefacting. It's hard to imagine the show looking any better -- or sounding better, for that matter. The DTS-HD 5.1 surround track is clear and nuanced. House, M.D. is mainly dialogue driven, and that comes through clearly here in the center channel. The show is also effective in using music and lots of atmospheric effects to achieve an almost-magical realism at points. The score and effects sound are solid, especially in terms of balance with the dialogue and their use of directionality.
Extras are slim but solid. They start on Disc Two with a pair of featurettes. One looks into the creation of Martha M. Masters, and the other examines the House/Cuddy (or Huddy, as it is referred to here) romance. Disc Four offers up commentaries. One features director Greg Yaitanes and Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy) on "Bombshell," while the other includes writers Sara Hess and David Hoselton on "The Dig." They're solid commentaries, full of insights into the workings of these episodes. Disc four also includes a featurette that looks behind the scenes of "Bombshell" (to great effect) and one that talks about Thirteen's return. The last disc includes a commentary on the last episode by Greg Yaitanes and series creator David Shore, and the pair are perfectly suited to end the season with enthusiasm and info about the show. Finally, these discs include a U-Control feature ("A Beginner's Guide to Diagnostic Medicine") that includes pop-up trivia during the episodes that provide info on the medicine.
This seventh season is a pretty strong one, and I respect all the hard choices the creative staff must have to make. However, I'm a little disappointed by the absence of Thirteen for so much of this season. I warmed up to Masters (and understand why Thirteen had to go for so long), but she was definitely missed. As for this collection, my only complaint is that Universal put five discs into a case with only three slots, which means that two of the discs are stacked on top of other discs. Although they feel secure enough, it does make getting individual discs out more of a pain than it should be.
House, M.D. Season Seven feels like a bit of a breather after the rocky roads of the fifth and sixth seasons. Some ideas (like new assistants) were tried again, while other ideas (like the Cuddy/House romance) were finally tested. It's a fine balance with some compelling medical mysteries, and fans of the show will likely enjoy the direction of this season. They'll also enjoy the impressive hi-def presentation of the show, making this season easy to recommend for purchase.
Nothing lasts forever, but this season is not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1007 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Official Site