HOUSE, M.D.: SEASON 2 - DVD review

"House" is just damn good television.

William D. Lee's picture

DVD has had a profound impact on how we watch television. A rabid fanbase and strong DVD sales put "Family Guy" back on the air and gave "Firefly" a second life as a feature-length film. Secondly, you don't have to wait until next week to find out what happens. This is a big plus to shows with a more serialized structure ("24"), allowing you to keep each episode fresh in your mind as you watch them at your own pace. Or just sit down for one long marathon viewing. That was my introduction to "House." I got hooked after two reruns on TV, before picking up the first season set and practically devoured it. "House" is just damn good television.

British actor Hugh Laurie is probably more known for his work on the British comedy series "Blackadder" and family friendly films such as, "Stuart Little" and "101 Dalmatians." As Dr. Gregory House, Laurie does a complete about face. He is gruff, sarcastic, and sometimes downright nasty. He's got a sense of gallows humor and isn't above making racist or sexist comments. I'm sure House would love being a doctor even more, if all those sick people didn't keep getting in the way. Actually having to deal with patients is the bane of House's existence. Based on Sherlock Holmes, House shares the incredible deductive skills of his counterpart, along with his low tolerance for those of less intelligence.

As head of the diagnostics department, House surrounds himself with a team of specialists that include; Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), whose by-the-books approach almost always clashes with House's unorthodox techniques; Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), the son of a well-known doctor and has the most in common with House, even if he doesn't want to admit it; and Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), who is the most optimistic of the group and, perhaps, overly caring to a fault. Rounding out the cast are the hospital's administrator and Dean of Medicine, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), who has to put up with House's attitude and clean up his messes, and Dr. James Wilson, the Watson to House's Holmes. Wilson is his best friend and one of the only people who can stand being around him.

"House" is much less a medical drama and more a mystery, playing up to the Holmes comparison. Each episode starts with the patient of the week being struck down. The doctors break down the symptoms, investigate their medical history, and begin treatment. Sometimes other seemingly unrelated symptoms pop up, sometimes they're wrong and they make things worse. While the show sticks to a familiar formula, the show is so smartly written and the characters are so compelling that it never bothers you.

The first season saw the addition of Chi McBride as a pharmaceutical giant who takes over the hospital and tries to rein in House. The storyline didn't quite click and took away from the moments where we needed to see the characters grow. This season rectified those problems by playing with the cast's dynamics. Bumped up to recurring character is House's ex-wife, Stacy (Sela Ward), who becomes the hospital's new legal counsel and Dr. Foreman briefly being put in charge of the department, much to House's chagrin.

The episodes included are:

-Disc 1-
House finds interest in a death row inmate (LL Cool J), who collapses after suffering hallucinations. Meanwhile, Cameron hopes beyond hope that she is wrong about a patient's terminal condition.

House and team work against time to cure a 9-year old cancer sufferer when her body begins falling apart.

"Humpty Dumpty"
Cuddy's guilt clouds her best judgment when a day laborer falls off the roof of her house.

"TB or Not TB"
A crusading doctor (Ron Livingston) comes down with tuberculosis and refuses medication, in order to bring attention to the plight of diseased Africans.

-Disc 2-
"Daddy's Boy"
The doctors have a tough time treating a recent college graduate when both he and his father keep things from them.

A champion cyclist collapses on the racetrack and freely admits to using performance enhancing drugs. But, they may not be the real problem.

House treats an AIDS patient when he goes into convulsions after he accidentally knocks him down on the street.

"The Mistake"
House and Chase are up for review when a special committee investigate who is at fault for the death of a patient.

-Disc 3-
Cynthia Nixon guest-stars as a gambler who has been in and out of hospitals with phony symptoms. House is the only one who believes he might actually be sick.

"Failure to Communicate"
A well-known journalist collapses and suffers from aphasia, an inability to communicate language properly.

"Need to Know"
A housewife is brought in after suffering muscle seizures, uncovering a web of lies in her happy, suburban life.

A father brings in his son after a horrible ATV accident, while House takes extreme measures to discredit an old rival.

-Disc 4-
"Skin Deep"
A supermodel with an addiction to heroin is brought in, as is an expecting father with high estrogen levels.

"Sex Kills"
House must fix a dead woman's heart before transplanting it into a dying man.

House suspects a woman is hiding something when her husband is brought in after a rough night in the bedroom.

House must save the life of a girl (played by Michelle Trachtenberg) with a compromised immune system.

-Disc 5-
"All In"
House finds that his latest patient is suffering the same symptoms of an older case that House was not able to cure.

"Sleeping Dogs Lie"
A woman comes in with a deadly case of insomnia as Cameron must deal with an ethical issue.

"House vs. God"
A teenaged faith healer forces House to confront his religious beliefs.

"Euphoria - Part 1"
The hospital admits a wounded cop who cannot stop laughing. While investigating his apartment, Foreman comes down with the same symptoms.

-Disc 6-
"Euphoria - Part 2"
House and company race against the clock to save Foreman's life.

Two lives are on the line when a woman goes into seizures while bathing her newborn infant.

"Who's Your Daddy?"
An old friend of House brings in his newly-discovered daughter who suffers from wild hallucinations.

"No Reason"
House tries to treat a patient from his hospital bed after being shot by a former patient.

The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Fans were upset that the first season was nonanamorphic, luckily that isn't the case with season two. The transfer is simply gorgeous. The picture comes in bright and vibrant. This is how a TV show should look.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 with optional English and Spanish subtitles. The sound is crisp and clear without any dialogue coming in muddled.

Disc 1 features an audio commentary on "Autopsy" with producers David Shore and Katie Jacobs.

Disc 2 features It Could Be Lupus..., a montage of the doctors pronouncing or denouncing a case of Lupus. There is also a blooper reel and an alternate take of Lisa Edelstein and Jennifer Morrison performing their scene as, like, Valley Girls, totally.

Disc 5 features another alternate Valley Girl take.

On Disc 6, you'll find another audio commentary by Shore and Jacobs on the episode "No Reason." An Evening with House is a Q&A session with the actors and producers, which was filmed at the Academy of Arts & Sciences.

FOX has been on my naughty list for canceling "Firefly" and "Arrested Development." But, they've been making it up to me by treating "House" so well. The show is intricately written, full of twists, turns, and great characters with just the right amount of humor tossed in for good measure. Now THIS is must-see TV.


Film Value