I thought 'House' would go on forever, or until Hugh Laurie died. I never thought it would end in season eight. It consistently did well in the ratings (only really falling off in season eight) and it seemed to be the one Fox series that we could count on coming back year after year. However, season eight was the end. It's a good thing really. The medical procedural show had run its course. Its characters seemed to be repeating the same old routines. Ending the show was the right thing to do.
You're either a fan of the series, or you're not. Chances are if you clicked on this review and you end up reading the whole thing, that you've stuck with the show through seven seasons now and you're interested to see if the last year is worth it. Yes, I think it is.
The final season of 'House' begins where the seventh season left off. In the finale of the seventh season 'House' was headed off to jail for driving his car straight into Cuddy's living room. Season eight picks up with Dr. House in prison dealing with his personal demons and not really knowing if he ever wants to get out. In the joint he meets a young, attractive doctor (this is a staple of 'House' and was sorely needed since Thirteen [Olivia Wilde] is absent) named Dr. Jessica Adams (Odette Annable, formerly Odette Yutsman). House soon befriends her, and to no one's surprise, helps her figure out a mystery illness affecting one of the inmates.
House soon gets out of jail, as was expected, and finds his way back to Princeton-Plainsboro to annoy Wilson and treat people with his diagnosing genius and biting sarcasm. House finds the hospital a very different place though. Cuddy is gone and Foreman (Omar Epps) has stepped into the head-honcho role. Chase (Jesse Spencer), Taub (Peter Jacobson), and the rest are gone. House is kept company by an ankle bracelet that tracks all his movements. He's allowed to go home and to go to work. That's it.
He soon sets about setting up his team. After a few episodes House finds a way to bring Chase and Taub back to the fold, but not before recruiting Dr. Adams and Dr. Chi Park (Charlyne Yi). Yi's character takes a bit of time to grow on you. I've never really liked her brand of off-kilter hipster humor, but here she seems to fit right in. Once her character is established she gives House as good as he dishes out. It's a fun struggle to watch.
After the first episode featuring House in prison the show more or less settles back into the same formulaic routine. A patient with a mysterious illness is brought into the hospital where House and his team of diagnosticians try and figure out what's wrong. They spout lines upon lines of nearly incomprehensible medical jargon and come to a conclusion, then treat the patient. The first, second, and third diagnoses are usually wrong and wind up creating more problems, but it's usually all part of House's master plan anyway.
House hasn't given up his manipulative behavior either. This season he goads everyone on the team to their breaking point. He shakes the confidence of Dr. Park daily, he teases Dr. Chase about his new TV doctor gig, he harasses Dr. Taub to find out if Taub's children are really biologically his, he routinely points out how hot Dr. Adams is and how it's an unfair advantage for her, but he doesn't mind because she's hot. Then there's the power struggle he has with his new boss, Dr. Foreman. The two of them compete in a battle of wits to see which one really holds the power. House tests his limits and then Foreman tries to reign him back in. In short, if you've stayed with the show this long you know exactly what kind of shenanigans to expect.
Even with the completely formulaic premise, the relentless teasing and often times funny subplots usually tend to be quite entertaining. The show is written with a quick beat-beat-beat banter where House habitually tries to undermine everyone around him just for his own amusement. There are some great one-liners in this season and as a 'House' fan I enjoyed most of the episodes. It's an easy show to watch back-to-back-to-back.
It's kind of sad to see the show go, but even a casual fan like me knows that it has reached its end and sending it out now is the best thing to do. At least the eighth season provided some good drama, great laughs, and resolutions for memorable characters.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal has got to be the leader of atrocious Blu-ray packaging when it comes to TV sets. I just reviewed 'Grimm' and that packaging left a lot to be desired because you had to slip the disc into a slot of cardboard which required getting finger prints on the bottom of the disc no matter what. The 'House' packaging has usually had the horrendous pinch loaders that pissed everyone off in the 'Back to the Future' set. No pinch loaders this time around. It's even worse.
The set comes with five 50GB Blu-ray Discs and they are packaged in a cardboard foldout with disc hubs. There are only three disc hubs though. So, how do five discs fit in three hubs? Well, they've stacked them of course (insert facepalm emoticon here). That's right, two of the hubs are stacked with two discs each. It's pretty laughable really. The cardboard foldout slides into an outer slipcover resembling those that were used in the previous season sets. This is a region free release.
Each of the Blu-ray releases for the 'House' seasons has had an identical look and quality to them. If you have season six or season seven on Blu-ray then you know what to expect from this 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer from Universal.
Detail is highly visible, especially during close-ups. You can even see the tiny gray hairs forming in Dr. Chase's stubbly beard. Pores, freckles and stubble all appear extremely clear. Whenever blood spurts from a patient onto the doctors the tiny drops are easily visible on faces and appendages.
Colors are produced well. Crimson blood is one of the colors that stands out the most, since it's usually set against a backdrop of the sterile blue and white hospital environment. There is plenty of rich brown wood paneling in the hospital and the grain of the wood is easily recognizable. The show is usually well lit, but it performs good in low light conditions as well. Crushing isn't an issue here, as the show produces nicely delineated shadows that emphasize details on people and objects even if it's dark. There aren't any real anomalies to speak of. Like the other seasons faint ringing is present in some scenes but it really isn't enough to distract the viewer. Some shimmering is noticeable too, mostly on House's suits. It can be a nuisance at times. Overall, though, this is as good looking as past seasons on Blu-ray.
The same can be said for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It isn't going to blow you away with its audio prowess, but it does deliver a nicely rounded, at times surprisingly amped up sound mix.
Intense scenes, usually when patients start spitting up blood, feature the most LFE. The bass kicks in making the scene feel even more important. Screams from suffering patients are clear and sometimes fill the soundstage. If the doctors are out in the hall a patient's scream for help can be heard coming out of the rear speakers until they run into the room and the screams seamlessly transition to the front and center speakers. Dialogue is always clear. Even though the medical jargon is completely incomprehensible to the layperson, you still hear everything that's said clearly. House whispers a lot of stuff under his breath, and even those lines come across cleanly.
Many episodes feature a mini music montage at the end to recap what each character is up to. The pop music bleeds through each speaker and offers a nice musical listening environment. Like the video presentation, the audio presentation offers more of the same from previous seasons, but that's a good thing here.
No commentaries this time around. Most of the special features have to do with the ending of the show.
'House' had its moments and probably peaked in greatness around the third or fourth season, but it always felt strong even in later seasons. The formula worked for the show and offered a show with thoughtful characters, witty banter, and (if you were into it) fun medical mysteries. Yes, it was pretty easy to call what direction each episode would head, and it was always fun to try and pin-point House's "Ah ha!" moment, where he'd stare off into space and suddenly realize the answer to his problems. With all that said, I still enjoyed the show for what it was and season eight is a decent send-off. I'd recommend this season to anyone who might be interested.