HOUSE (TV SERIES) - Blu-ray review

House still makes for compelling drama thanks to the virtuoso performance of Hugh Laurie.

William D. Lee's picture

Everybody lies.

That's the central tenet that Dr. Gregory House subscribes to and prescribes to others. Brilliantly played by Hugh Laurie, House has become a modern pop culture icon. He isn't the typical television doctor and certainly isn't cut from the same mold as others like Dr. Marcus Welby or Dr. Cliff Huxtable. House's bedside manner consists of a healthy dose of sarcasm with a 100 cc's of condescension.

For those of you arriving late to the party, Dr. House practices out of the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. Series creator David Shore was inspired by Sherlock Holmes and the famous detective shares many traits with House. Both possess a superior intellect and aren't afraid to let everyone else know it. They also both love a good mystery. House is a brilliant diagnostician and specializes in unique cases that befuddle other doctors.

A lot has changed since the early seasons of the show. House's original diagnostics team consisted of Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), and Dr. Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison). By season four, House had dismissed his team though Foreman returned to the fold and the others remained on staff at the hospital. A competition was held to see who would replace them. Joining the main cast were Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn), and the mysterious Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley (Olivia Wilde). Kutner was written off the show via suicide when Penn took a position as Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. Cameron departed the show in season 6 following a heart-wrenching break up with Chase.

Season 7 marks yet another tumultuous year for the medical staff of Princeton-Plainsboro. Thirteen departs early in the season (Wilde was off filming "Cowboys & Aliens") in her typical enigmatic fashion and returns with even more secrets than usual. In the interim, she is replaced by a brilliant, but naïve grad student named Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn). However, the primary story driving this season is the love affair between House and hospital administrator, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). The two have always had a begrudging respect, despite the numerous times House has raised her ire. The couple fans have affectionately nicknamed, "Huddy," struggle to separate their personal and professional lives.

Placing long-standing characters into a relationship is always a tricky proposition. It's easy to fall into the "Moonlighting Syndrome," in which you kill off the sexual tension that had become so ingrained into the series. To the credit of the show's creators, they handle Huddy in such a way that it almost feels doomed from the start. Their relationship and the personal lives of the other characters play a much larger role with the 'Patient of the Week' formula becoming the spine in which to tell their stories.

Season Seven is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Blu-Ray set features all 23 episodes spread across five discs. The episodes included are:

-Disc 1-
"Now What?" – House and Cuddy try to determine if an intimate relationship is even possible while the diagnostics team work to prevent the ER from being shut down.

"Selfish" – It's "Sophie's Choice" done House-style as parents are forced to choose to save their daughter by sacrificing their terminally ill son.

"Unwritten" – House is eager to treat the suicidal author of a teen-lit series he enjoys.

"Massage Therapy" – A female patient is brought in for excessive vomiting and it is discovered that nothing she has told the medical staff (and her husband) is true.

"Unplanned Parenthood" – Jennifer Grey guest stars as a mother whose newborn is being treated for liver failure. Meanwhile, House babysits Cuddy's daughter for the first time.

-Disc 2-
"Office Politics" – Martha Masters joins the team as the campaign manager of an incumbent senator comes in for what appeared to be an abnormal rash.

"A Pox on Our House" – The hospital goes into lockdown when a family that went deep sea diving are brought in with symptoms that appear to be smallpox.

"Small Sacrifices" – A man is brought to the hospital after crucifying himself in a pact with God, then refuses treatment.

"Larger Than Life" – The doctors try to treat a musician, who collapsed after saving the life of a man who fell on a subway track.

-Disc 3-
"Carrot or Stick" – A drill instructor is brought in for severe pain. The mystery deepens when one of his trainees arrives with the same symptoms.

"Family Practice" – Cuddy's mother (Candice Bergen) is admitted into the ER, but House believes she may only be suffering from hypochondria.

"You Must Remember This" – A waitress with eidetic memory is brought in after suffering from unexplained paralysis. Her condition is exacerbated when she is visited by her estranged sister.

"Two Stories" – House speaks to a class full of students during Career Day about his job and a recent medical case.

"Recession Proof" – House must choose between accompanying Cuddy to a banquet or treating a patient brought in for chemical exposure.

-Disc 4-
"Bombshells" – Cuddy and House's relationship reach a turning point as the doctors treat a boy who has also been cutting himself.

"Out of the Chute" – The team must come up with new ways for diagnosing a professional bull rider due to the multiple injuries he has suffered in the past.

"Fall From Grace" – A homeless man is initially brought in for severe burns, but soon suffers from other mysterious ailments.

"The Dig" – House is reunited with the returning Thirteen while the other doctors work to save a teacher who turns out to be a severe hoarder.

-Disc 5-
"Last Temptation" – Masters makes a desperate decision to save the life of a teenage girl determined to sail around the world.

"Changes" – House and his team work to treat a lottery winner who appears to be suffering from multiple forms of cancer.

"The Fix" – Wilson tries to get House to discuss his feelings for Cuddy while the diagnostics team tries to save a scientist who seems to be afflicted with radiation poisoning.

"After Hours" – Thirteen attempts to treat a former cellmate who refuses to go to the hospital. Meanwhile, House suffers from side effects from the experimental medication he has been taking.

"Moving On" – House deals with the end of his relationship with Cuddy while the doctors are stymied by an artist (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who turns her treatment into performance art.

The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Picture quality is resplendent with colors bold and well defined. No flaws or digital noise to be found at all.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound gets an added oomph in high definition, but nothing earth shattering over lossy audio. The opening theme by Massive Attack certainly sounds better in HD.

On Disc 2, you'll find Meet Martha Masters (7:06), a featurette about Amber Tamblyn's new character, how her unpolluted moral compass affects the other doctors, and how she is based on a real-life friend of the actress. Huddy Dissected (8:33) is a look at the development of the love story between House and Cuddy.

On Disc 4, you'll find Anatomy of an Episode: Bombshells (23:21), a detailed look at the various fantasy sequences that were featured in the episode. Thirteen Returns (4:45) focuses on the painful circumstances regarding Thirteen's departure and return. There's also an audio commentary track on "Bombshells" with Lisa Edelstein and director Greg Yaitanes as well as a commentary track on "The Dig" with writers Sara Hess and David Hoselton.

Disc 5 features an audio commentary track on the season finale, "Moving On," with David Shore and director Greg Yaitanes.

All five discs contain the pop-up feature, A Beginner's Guide to Diagnostic Medicine, which gives viewers a quick overview of the various diseases and treatments referenced on the show.

When I first saw "House," I was instantly addicted. I immediately bought the first season on DVD and plowed straight through it. It's been a while since I've visited the folks at Princeton-Plainsboro. I haven't watched the series on a regularly basis since season 4 and the last set I reviewed was season 3. However, I was able to dive right in with little trouble. While the novelty of the show may have worn off, "House" still makes for compelling drama thanks to the virtuoso performance of Hugh Laurie.


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