Blu-ray
For Fans
4 stars
Amazon
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
3 Stars
High-Def Extras
2 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans

House: Season Six

Street Date:
August 31st, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 25th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Universal
Length:
0 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

What a scoundrel that Dr. House is. He belittles and schemes. He pushes his way through life with a steady stream of sarcastic insults directed at the very people that he, deep down, loves. House really is an interesting character, although his constant badgering of his co-workers wears a little thin at times. You just can't help but laugh though. He gets away with it because he's apparently the smartest doctor around, and he knows it.

The show is in its sixth season and still going strong in terms of viewers. This season starts out with House committed to a mental institution. He committed himself at the end of season five in order to deal with his drug problem and hallucinations.

The season premiere, with House scheming a way out of the institution, is one of the most emotional episodes I've ever seen. 'House,' more often than not, sticks rigidly to its formula of unsolvable medical case after unsolvable medical case. It was refreshing to see a total break from the norm with the season premiere. House really is a good guy, although he would hate it if you thought that about him. As he bonds with his fellow patients, he finds himself. It's a touching opening to a pretty intensely drama-packed season.

I hope not to give too much away about the sixth season, but a lot of the supporting characters like Chase, Cuddy, Wilson, Foreman, Cameron, Taub, and Thirteen are all going through major changes. Perhaps the biggest of these changes is how Chase struggles with an ill-fated decision that may leave him professionally crippled for the rest of his career.

After the season premiere the sixth season of 'House' gets back to the same old formula, but there are a few great episodes that have lasting consequences for the characters. One such episode features James Earl Jones as an African warlord. Should the team treat him? He's committing genocide in his country. Would it be better if they let him die? Helped him die? It's a very intriguing premise and carries its storyline throughout the rest of the season. The choices made during that episode change just about everything for everyone.

The main storyline with House this season is his undying love for Cuddy and her unwillingness to want him back. Thirteen and Foreman struggle with their relationship as Foreman assumes command of the team as House has been institutionalized. Taub fights with the prospect of making more money in his own private practice. Wilson, in what may be the worst decision of his life, lets House bunk at his place.

Sure 'House' has its formula that it sticks to. A person is brought in with at least one orifice bleeding uncontrollably. The staff rattles off medical jargon that none of us actually understand, and then sometime around the end House gets The Look in his eyes and we know he's all of a sudden figured out what is wrong. What makes House a fun show (besides the fact that every female doctor in the 'House' universe is smoking hot) isn't its mechanical presentation, rather it's the characters that populate the series. The dialogue is well-written and the relationships between the characters seems genuine. We feel for them as they struggle with personal decisions.

'House' isn't my favorite show on TV, but as far as medical shows, it's up near the top. House is a fantastic character to love and hate at the same time. You can't help but think, "What a douche!" while laughing simultaneously. As with so many TV shows, when we get into reviewing the later seasons, we're usually not here to encourage you to watch or not. You know if you're a fan already. For a casual 'House' fan such as myself, this is a fairly compelling season, with some interesting character arcs. That's about all you can ask from this otherwise formulaic series.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Okay, I need to get this out of the way. The packaging for 'House' season six is horrendous. The discs come in the dreadful fold out cardboard style, with overlapping trays. These are the worst overlapping disc holders I've ever seen. Getting discs in and out is a horrible process in which you're sure you're scratching your discs. There's only one actual disc hub located at the back for the fifth disc. Discs one thru four are packed in the horrible overlapping trays that literally drive me crazy. Why can't shows just stick with the oversized keepcase like season seven of '24.' That would be much easier, and more humane way to pack the discs. As of right now, this is some of the worst packaging I've ever seen. I hate it.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'House' has always been a good looking show on HD cable. Now, on a 1080p Blu-ray transfer, getting rid of the constant blocking provided by crappy cable bandwidth, the show looks gorgeous. 'House' has a close-to-perfect, refined picture full of saturated colors and extremely nice looking fine detail. The show is known for its constant close ups of House and the other characters. Facial details are top-notch, each one of House's gray and white beard hairs are visible. Also, may I speak for every guy when I say looking at Thirteen in true HD, is… well… very nice.

Yes soft focus does persist throughout the season, but that's due to the style of photography being used. The show has a penchant for zooming directly in on the character in the foreground, leaving all the other characters and background objects blurry and out of focus. This isn't a problem at all. It's how the show is supposed to look, but after six seasons you know that already.

If there's one teeny tiny aspect keeping this season from a full blown five star video rating, it's the noise that appears sporadically over the course of the season. Without rhyme or reason, bits and flecks will pop up every now and then, maybe once or twice an episode. Still this is nothing that takes away from the overall splendor of the way 'House' season six looks on Blu-ray.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation doesn't live up to the very high bar set by the video, but it does what it does extremely well.

First off, all the dialogue is presented clearly through the center and front channels. There are never any garbled or too-quiet vocals. This is very nice since the characters talk so fast, spouting out medical terms with rapid fire precision, it would be easy to miss much of what was said if this audio presentation was less than stellar. Fortunately, we get a highly qualified sound presentation that not only produces well-rounded dialogue, but also gives us a great sense of ambience. A lot of shows that come to Blu-ray don't pay much attention to the surround channels, focusing only on the front channels. Here the surrounds are alive with all the comings and goings of a busy hospital. The soundtrack has some great oomph when it comes to LFE kicking in for intense scenes and the musical score.

Overall, this is a great sound presentation that adds another dimension to this already great looking (and now great sounding) Blu-ray release.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentaries

    There are four audio commentaries attached. The episodes containing the commentaries are "Broken" (Disc 1), "Wilson" (Disc 3), "5 to 9" (Disc 3), and "Help Me" (Disc 5).

    The "Broken" commentary features director Katie Jacobs, writer Russel Friend, and writer Garrett Lerner. Although it's nice to hear from the people behind the scenes who set up the story, it would have been nice to hear from Laurie during this episode since it's a huge game-changer for his character and the rest of the season.

    The commentary for "Wilson" has supervising producer David Foster and actor Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson). I didn't like this commentary at all. I liked that they saw fit to provide us with a series regular who could talk about the changes taking place with his character, too bad much of this commentary is filled with silence and slight laughter here and there. A commentary is made for comments, so provide some!

    "9 to 5" features actress Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy) and producer Thomas L. Moran. More laughing and joke-making here. The actual information about the show and the characters is few and far between. With Edelstein commenting I would have hoped for more insight into her character, especially with an episode seen through her eyes. Sadly, they missed the boat here.

    Finally, in the commentary for "Help Me" director Greg Yaitanes and technical supervisor Larry Collins provide rewarding, insightful comments. Sadly, Laurie doesn't appear on any of the commentary tracks. I really wanted to gain some insight into his character from the man himself.


  • Before Broken: An Exclusive Original Short (Disc 1, HD, 10 min.) – This is a great feature. It's a short shot on location at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. The short was dreamed up by director/producer Katie Jacobs and with the help of Hugh Laurie they pull off a decent short without the help of a script or even a plan.
  • A New House for House (Disc 1, HD, 23 min.) – This featurette basically chronicles the season premiere "Broken" and what it was like shooting at the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. It talks to the cast and crew, and shares their thoughts about the premiere, and how it breaks away from the norm when it comes to the 'House' formula.
  • Crazy Cool Episode: Epic Fail (Disc 1, HD, 23 min.) – While the term Epic Fail has really begun to wear on my last nerve, 'House' season six saw fit to title one of its episodes just that. The episode focuses on a virtual reality video game and the illness contracted by its maker. This featurette discusses the video game visual effects that were used during the episode and how they were made. I hit play all on the first disc, and when the beginning of "Epic Fail" started, I thought something had gone wrong, or it was playing some sort of advertisement in between episodes. The special effects done for the episode look good, but have that TV look to them if you know what I mean. They were done on a smaller budget, but turned out pretty good considering.
  • A Different POV: Hugh Laurie Directs (Disc 4, HD, 7 min.) – Hugh Laurie gets to direct episode 17 called "Knight Fall." This featurette just talks about the process Laurie went through to direct the episode from writing to shooting.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

  • U-Control (HD) – The U-Control feature is provided on each episode, giving you a picture-in-picture tool that helps you along your way to understanding Diagnostic Medicine. I was thankful for this worthwhile HD extra, because it explains diseases and symptoms while the characters are rattling them off like we all know what they're talking about.
  • Pocket Blu – Pretty much all the smart phones are covered here. iPhones, Blackberries, and Androids all get their own app.
  • My Scenes – A pretty standard Blu-ray feature where you can bookmark your favorite scenes.

Final Thoughts

Besides the disc packaging (that needs to be burned) the rest of this Universal Blu-ray release of 'House' season six is everything you could hope for as a fan. The video looks tremendous and the audio rocks for a dialogue-heavy TV show. There's a healthy helping of special features, even though some of the commentaries lack any life whatsoever. Since this is season six though, I can't just put out a recommendation to all. Even though this is a stellar TV Blu-ray release, it's still for the fans.

Technical Specs

  • 5 BD-50 Blu-ray Discs

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Three episode commentaries
  • Before "Broken"
  • A Different POV - Hugh Laurie Directs
  • New Faces in a New House
  • A New House for House

Exclusive HD Content

  • U-Control - A Beginner's Guide to Diagnostic Medicine
  • My Scenes
  • Pocket Blu
  • BD-Live

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