Judge Jim Thomas thinks they're going to downsize the show to Apartment M.D.
Our reviews of House, M.D. Season Two (published September 13th, 2006), House, M.D. Season Six (Blu-ray) (published August 31st, 2010), House, M.D. Season One (published August 22nd, 2005), House, M.D. Season Three (published September 5th, 2007), House, M.D. Season Four (published August 19th, 2008), House, M.D. Season Eight (Blu-ray) (published August 21st, 2012), House, M.D. Season Five (published August 25th, 2009), House, M.D. Season Seven (Blu-ray) (published August 30th, 2011), House, M.D. Season Six (published August 25th, 2010), and House, M.D. The Complete Series (published November 17th, 2012) are also available.
Prepare for complications.
For six seasons, the fans of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (PPTH) have been treated to an unusual pas de deux between bad boy genius Gregory House (Hugh Laurie, Blackadder) and Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein, The West Wing). The Season Six finale finally saw these two crazy kids take the plunge, and everyone wondered just how big a catastrophe their romance would be.
Results were…mixed. While the romance itself wasn't a train wreck, the aftermath of the romance was indeed a car wreck, literally and figuratively, while the rest of the series is pretty much same as it ever was. With a central character as interesting as House, not to mention a lead as consistently amazing as Hugh Laurie, "same as it ever was" can be fun viewing; however, "same as it ever was" lives right next door to "Same S***, Different Day." Sometimes, the writers get the addresses mixed up. With such underlying issues does Universal bring before us House, M.D. Season Seven, and with some spoilers, I address the evidence.
Facts of the Case
You get all twenty-three episodes on five discs.
• "Selfish"—House and Cuddy discover the pitfalls of office relationships.
• "Unwritten"—Amy Irving (The Competition) guest stars as a writer of children's fiction who tries to shoot herself after finishing her book. House is convinced that the secret to both her physical and psychological problems resides in her new book. House and Cuddy double date with Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard, Dead Poets Society) and Sam (Cynthia Watros, Titus).
• "Massage Therapy"—A patient's uncontrollable vomiting forces the team to investigate her history. Chase hires a replacement for Thirteen.
• "Unplanned Parenthood"—When a newborn cycles between better and worse, the team is forced to take a closer look at the mother (Jennifer Grey, whom nobody puts in a corner). Taub tries to hire a new member for the team; House attempts to babysit Cuddy's daughter. Wackiness ensues on both fronts.
• "A Pox on Our House"—A girl is admitted with what appears to be smallpox. While the hospital is locked down, Wilson and Sam work together to help a young chemotherapy patient.
• "Small Sacrifices"—The team's new patient crucified himself (literally) every year as a testament to his faith.
• "Larger Than Life"—The team treat a musician (Matthew Lillard, Scream) who saved a fellow subway commuter who had fallen on the tracks. Meanwhile, House treats a clinic patient who turns out to be Cuddy's mother Arlene (Candice Bergen, Sweet Home Alabama). Taub becomes the new face of PPTH, with unexpected results.
• "Family Practice"—House tries to save Cuddy's mom. Taub, having separated from his wife, tries to pick up some consulting work on the side.
• "You Must Remember This"—A waitress with perfect memory has temporary paralysis. Foreman helps Taub prepare to retake his pathology board exam.
• "Two Stories"—Cuddy is getting tired of House's selfish behavior, so he tries to atone by speaking at a private school's career day.
• "Recession Proof"—Cuddy wins an award and wants to make sure House attends the ceremony; the team treats a patient who has been keeping some secrets from his wife. Taub and Foreman, now roommates, try to stay off each other's nerves.
• "Out of the Chute"—The team treats a rodeo bull rider while House recovers from the breakup with Cuddy the only way he knows how: Vicodin and hookers.
• "Fall From Grace"—The team treats a homeless man who won't give them any family history. House continues to spiral out of control.
• "The Dig"—Thirteen (Olivia Wilde, Cowboys and Aliens) is back, and House wants some answers. To get them, he takes her to a potato gun competition. Back at PPTH, the team treats a science teacher with respiratory issues and a hoarding problem. Taub starts dating Ruby, a young CNA at the hospital, to Foreman and Chase's consternation. Commentary track with writers Sara Hess and David Hasselton.
• "Changes"—The team treat a new lottery winner (Donal Logue, Blade) while Cuddy's mom threatens to sue the hospital. Chase sets out to prove that Foreman is a "boiling cauldron of repressed rage."
• "The Fix"—While the team treats a bomb designer (Linda Park, Star Trek: Enterprise) whose symptoms resemble radiation sickness, House is convinced that the boxer on whom he lost a bet has an underlying condition that led to the defeat. The team thinks that House is hooked on some new drug; they're not exactly wrong.
• "After Hours"—A woman Thirteen befriended in prison shows up on her doorstep with a stab wound. When an experimental drug causes tumors in his leg, House attempts to perform surgery on himself.
• "Moving On"—The team treats a performance artist whose treatment blurs the lines between reality and art. Cuddy's insistence that House deal with their breakup becomes a classic case of "Be careful what you wish for." That goes double for Taub. Commentary track with creator/exec producer David Shore and director/exec producer Greg Yaitanes.
Recommended episodes include "Unwritten," "Unplanned Parenthood," "A Pox on Our House," "Larger Than Life," "Recession Proof," "Bombshells," and "The Dig."
The season has a number of running threads:
Mary Masters—Very few precocious teen overachiever-type characters work on television; it's just too easy for them to be annoying. When it does work, it's great—see Neil Patrick Harris as Doogie Houser, MD. When it doesn't…two words: Wesley Crusher. Amber Tamblyn's Mary Masters falls somewhere in the middle. On the plus side, she isn't used as the last-minute solution all the time—after all, that's House's gig. On the downside, the whole Little Miss Upright with the moral ethical code bit got old very quick, particularly since it became clear pretty quickly that was Masters' only real character trait; she existed solely to be an ethical foil for House, and the interplay quickly grew tedious (particularly since the same dynamic was handled better in the first few seasons with Cameron). To her credit, Tamblyn does the most with what she's given; it's just that what she's given isn't particularly compelling.
Thirteen—ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Thirteen disappeared while Olivia Wilde was making movies, opening the door for Marry Masters. While her return, "The Dig," is a solid episode, pretty much everything about Thirteen's character has grown tiresome. Yeah, she's got Huntington's—we got it. It's a crap hand, but it's time to stop using her disease and her sexuality to define her, no matter how freaking gorgeous Olivia Wilde is.
Technically, Robert Sean Leonard is still on the show, though there are a few too many episodes where if you blink, you'll miss him. For part of the season, Leonard's profile was reduced because he was in a Broadway revival of Born Yesterday.
Oh, yeah, and the whole Huddy thing. Rewatching the season over the course of a weekend, it was easier to appreciate the little things that the writers and the actors did to demonstrate the characters' genuine emotions towards one another. Also, you get a better sense of the relationship evolving. At the end of the day, it plays out largely how you would expect it to play out, with House's selfish nature finally undermining the couple's happiness. That might have been OK, had the writers had a better plan for the aftermath; instead we got a lot of rehashed ideas, with House's typical self-destructive behavior just cranked up to eleven.
Overall, while there are a plethora of wonderful moments, the season never quite finds a good balance between the medical stories and the personal stories, preventing the season from developing any momentum. It was a good but not particularly memorable season, right up until the season finale, which almost literally blows up the lead character, and quite possibly, the series itself. When House drives his car into Cuddy's house, any lingering sympathy for the character evaporates. He easily could have killed anyone in the house, including Cuddy's daughter Rachel. That's not something you can overcome with another trip to rehab, and there doesn't look to be a viable way of ever getting House back into PPTH.
Technically, the disc is outstanding. Video is exceptionally sharp and clear, with strong detail and vivid—but not oversaturated—colors; all the better to appreciate Hugh Laurie's visage. There is some evidence of compression artifacts here and there, perhaps the result of cramming five episodes onto a single disc. Apart from "Bombshells," which features at various points a laugh track, a gun battle, a Broadway production number, and a zombie apocalypse, and the season finale, there's little in the way of audio challenges, but the audio is clear, with good surround presence. Extras are mixed; the featurette on the making of "Bombshells" is good, as it goes into detail into the great many technical challenges of the episode; the commentary track for it, featuring Lisa Edelstein, is very good as well. The other featurettes are fluffier; the other commentary tracks are OK, but suffer for not having any actors involved.
The commentary track for "Moving On" was recorded after Lisa Edelstein decided not to return for Season Eight; it isn't clear when the track for "Bombshells" was recorded. What is interesting is that anyone could think that Cuddy could remain on the show after "Moving On." Her relationship with House—professional or otherwise—cannot possibly recover, and it's hard not to see the episode as an attempt to run off the character. If that was not the case, it would be interesting to hear how the producers planned to proceed with Cuddy in Season Eight.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
While writing may have taken a turn for the worse, the acting remains stellar, not just from the main cast, but the guest stars as well, big name or no name. Disclaimer: Omar Epps and Jesse Spencer were given precious few moments to shine, but they stepped up when given the opportunity.
And then there's Taub. For several seasons now, Taub (Peter Jacobson) has been the most consistently interesting of the Cottages, in large part because his storylines have given the show a much-needed anchor to reality. Consider that in "Larger Than Life," you have an A-plot featuring Matthew Lillard, a B-plot featuring Candace Bergen, and yet it's the C-plot with Taub that is the most affecting of the lot. Jacobson is a delight to watch, whether he is an active participant or just reacting to others. Unlike the other supporting characters, Taub has a life outside of the hospital, which has given the character added depth. It will be interesting to see if Taub's storyline in Season Eight is as well-balanced as it has been this season.
In a perversely amusing turn, the show jumped the shark, not with an episode featuring homages to My Two Dads, Leave it to Beaver, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Busby Berkeley, and a zombie apocalypse, but with a vehicular assault after which no one can rationally believe that House would ever be allowed to practice medicine again. I'll probably watch the first few episodes out of morbid curiosity.
Is this a shark I see before me,
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2011 Jim Thomas; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.