When somebody thought up the concept of "rules" they obviously didn't have Gregory House, M.D. in mind. House is above the rules. They serve no purpose, they're just a hindrance to his arrogant – but brilliant – practice of medicine.
'House' will be starting its eighth season this fall. It's been one of the most popular shows on Fox for the better part of a decade. Legions of loyal fans tune in every week to see what type of unorthodox tough-love medicine House will be prescribing.
Part of the reason the series has been so successful is that it owns its formula. It never tries to hide the fact that each episode has basically the same structure. There are some episodes, mainly the season premieres and finales, that deviate from the show's rigid structure, but for the most part, it stays relatively the same. A seemingly healthy person soon collapses, maybe they start bleeding from an orifice or start seizing on the floor. That's where House and his crack team of diagnostic doctors come in. They take on the cases that stump all those normal doctors. Throughout the episode they come up with theory after theory of what could be causing the patients symptoms, testing new hypotheses, trying experimental procedures. They spend most of their time being wrong, all the while working to the final diagnosis, which usually comes somewhere in the third act when House gets an epiphany, stares blankly just beyond the camera, and suddenly realizes what it all means.
What drives the show is the interesting characters and the pessimistic dialogue they spew at one another. At times, though, it can be grating, especially after plowing through an entire season of the show. House lives his life on a few simple principles, one being that "everyone lies." This season focuses more on lying than any other season. That's because House takes on a new female doctor after the departure of Thirteen at the beginning of the season. Masters (Amber Tamblyn) is a young medical prodigy. Cuddy wants her on House's team, House doesn't want to deal with her pious attitude. He spends the first half of the season trying to break her will. Trying to get her to bend the rules and go against her truth stance. This is the most interesting and engaging part of the season. Their interactions are a fresh dose of storytelling in a season that was largely mired in the same old berating, blubbering behavior of House.
Other storylines this season include: House and Cuddy finally begin dating, but a question about what will happen with their working relationship arises; Thirteen has disappeared without any real reason as to why; Taub has finally caught the full brunt of his cheating ways as he and his wife go through a separation; Chase tries to fill the empty void in his life by sleeping with every girl in sight; Wilson spends the entire season trying to placate House thinking that he could, at any moment, go over the rails; and finally Foreman, well, he doesn't really do much other than let Taub move in with him after his separation.
This was actually one of the better seasons of 'House.' Some of the character arcs were quite telling, especially Masters who figures out working for House may not be as prestigious as everyone thinks it is. There are a few episodes that stand out, which mess with the established formula. One of those episodes is called "After Hours" (the second to last episode in the season) where we get to see what the team gets up to after they go home. It's an eye-opening episode indeed.
Yes, the season ends on somewhat of a cliff hanger, and personally I have no idea how they're going to follow it up with a full season eight. House is too far gone. His mind too clouded. There's no way he's going to be going back to his hospital. How could that ever happen after what he did?
Fans of the show will enjoy this season. I'm only a casual watcher and I still enjoyed it. The first half of the season, with Tamblyn, is much better than the second half. The second half is full of too many scenes of whiny House blubbering on and on in his cryptic, sarcastic ways. Still, it's a season that anyone who still likes the show will enjoy.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
What is going on over there at Universal? I would really like to know who they've got running their packaging department. Is it really that hard to package discs in a normal way? You know, every disc having their own hub? Is that so hard? Apparently it is. Season seven of 'House' had the notoriously hard to operate pinch loaders (the same that were on the 'Back to the Future' set. The ones that required the studio to send out special instructions on how to use them
This season's look seems to follow suit with the darker and darker areas that the characters find themselves in. However, it still looks just as good as season six did. The 1080p transfer of Fox's hit show is a smooth, clear, startlingly film-like TV on Blu-ray experience.
Colors are strong, even though the palette for many of the episodes is cool and sterile. There's an episode called "Bombshell" where Cuddy and House dream about their lives in different genres (action movie, sitcom, zombie movie, old 50s TV show) and the look of the show changes perfectly to replicate those situations. This action movie looks especially filmic and nice, while the black and white TV show shows some stunning contrast and deep inky blacks. Fine detail is just as good here. Facial details are always present and perfectly defined. As the season wears on you can notice Laurie's face become more gaunt and aged in order to depict the downward spiral that House finds himself on once he's back on prescription drugs. Sometimes the detail can even be too much, especially during the somewhat graphic surgical scenes that take place.
Crushing is never really an issue, as shadows are delineated nicely. The show performs well in lowly lit circumstances. Some minor ringing occurs, but it's infrequent at best. Other than that minor quibble I really couldn't point out any one thing in this presentation that makes it less impressive than season six.
I could pretty much copy and paste season six's audio description here, because season seven's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is its twin. Don't worry, that's a good thing. As far as television goes, 'House' boasts one of the best and most nuanced mixes out there. The show has a lot of talking, but depending on what the circumstances are, each episode can really pack a much-needed punch.
First off, dialogue is always clear. There are never any hazy moments, even when the members of House's team quickly throw verbal barbs at one another for a good few minutes. It's easy to hear all the different medical jargon (even if you don't actually understand a word) as they rifle through would-be diseases and underlying causes. The more weighty aspects of the mix come during the action-packed moments which usually happen at the beginning when we happen upon a person who is just about to be sick. One such opening is a particularly neat one where a bull rider hops on a bull and the gate is opened. The footage switches from regular to slow motion, as the sound deftly performs just as well. Low-end sonics capture the hoof-beats and lower frequencies as the voice over dialogue is placed perfectly in the center speaker. This is just one out of many examples where the show is able to blend both action-packed and the quiet vocals.
Speaking of directionality, it works flawlessly here. It has to, since at any one time there could be four different people speaking simultaneously. Their voices are placed exactly where they should be in the sound field, so the team's meeting room actually feels like you're sitting at the table listening to people talking all around you. If there's one thing to complain about it's that the title and end credit music seems to be turned up louder than any other part of the show. So, at the end of an episode the music kind of blasts out of your speakers without any real warning. It's a minor nitpick of an otherwise great sounding TV on Blu-ray presentation.
Now that 'House' is this far into its series run, you know if you're a fan or not. More importantly I think you know if you're planning on going out and purchasing an entire season of the show. However, with it's many standalone episodes that may only contain one or two drawn out story arcs from past seasons, jumping in midway isn't out of the question. 'House' is actually generous like that. I'll admit that I haven't seen seasons 1 – 5 in their entirety and I still know exactly what's going on in these latter seasons. So, if you're looking to get into the series, season seven is as good a place as any to start. The video and audio are excellent, but Universal skimps yet again on the supplement package. Speaking of packages, I have no idea why Universal can't get the packaging right, but they just can't. Stacking the discs is pretty much inexcusable. If you're interested, this set is worth a look.