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Blu-ray Review: House Season Seven

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If it’s the last week in August, it must be time for Universal Studios Home Entertainment to release its latest season of House, M.D. on disc. Season 7 of the FOX series, starring Hugh Laurie in the titular role is available August 30 on Blu-ray and DVD. The newest collection of House episodes includes all 23 episodes from last season and a nice collection of extras, including an in-episode feature exclusive to the Blu-ray release.

Season 7 asks whether the troubled genius diagnostician Dr. Gregory House is capable of sustaining a romantic relationship. The results for House are as mixed as the season for the series is uneven, with many highs both for the doctor and the series—and a few lows (I’m still bothered by “Fall from Grace.”)

It’s always a risk when move characters from unresolved sexual tension—something always in the air between House and his boss, Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein in her final season on the show)—to a full-blown love affair. And in the case of House, whose quest for happiness is an underlying theme of the series, it’s not possible for him to complete this possibly futile quest (if he ever does) so long before the series ends. It’s possible for him to grab happiness in fleeting bits, finding it where he can, but House is a fundamentally unhappy man, afflicted with serious chronic pain issues and a pessimistic attitude toward happiness and life. At the end of Season 6—arguably one of the lowest points in House’s life—Cuddy appears almost miraculously in his apartment, declaring her love—and rescuing him from disaster.

 Can House be happy? Is his mistrust of happiness and love so ingrained that he is destined to sabotage (even unconsciously) his new relationship with Cuddy? And Cuddy, herself, doesn’t possess a winning track record in the love department either. And going into the relationship ambivalent and wary isn’t necessarily going to help nurture it. The relationship, lasting the first 15 episodes—and its aftermath—frames Season 7, often taking a back seat to the multitude of diagnostic puzzles and odd ailments.

As the season progresses, House’s preoccupation with Cuddy, the relationship and his fears about it often distract him from the week’s case, leaving the team to take much more of a leadership role. That works enough of the time, but takes House, perhaps too often, out of the case, leaving many viewers to sorely miss the troubled, introspective genius. Especially after House and Cuddy break up, House is distant from the cases as he careens out of control toward the devastating penultimate and finale episodes of Season 7. The finale episode, in fact, sent shockwaves through the online fan community, leaving many wondering if House (and House) simply had gone too far.

Although it dominates Season 7, the “Huddy” story isn’t the only narrative arc threading through the episodes. With Olivia Wilde (“Thirteen”) pursuing her film career for much of Season 7 (and “Thirteen” therefore missing in action), House adds a medical student to his team. Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn) is genius-level smart, perhaps almost as smart as House, himself, but with a strongly dissenting ethical view. Masters adds a new dimension to the diagnostics team. More sure of her own moral compass than she is afraid of House, she stands her ground, going toe-to-toe with The Master. But when “Thirteen” returns (“The Dig”), Masters leaves the fold, graduating medical school—and Princeton-Plainsboro’s legendary Diagnostics Department.

House’s best friend Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) continues his relationship with ex-wife Samantha (Cynthia Watros), until making the mistake of proposing to her—and doubting her medical honesty (“Office Politics”). Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) finally begins to find himself after being at sea since Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) leaves him in Season 6. And Dr. Christopher Taub (Peter Jacobson) finds harmony with his own ex-wife, while going back to his old ways…and gets a big surprise by season’s end.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • spoilerchicka

    Barbara, thanks for the insight on the Season 7 series release. I want to feel as in love with the program as I was once but I simply can’t find the interest in the show or the central character now that Lisa Edelstein is no longer in the cast. The connection to Cuddy that was at once so integral to House’s stability and his future goal for happiness leaves me feeling empty. I find the writing has turned House into an unsympathetic and pathetic character that I do want to see undergo harsh treatment in prison. I can only hope the show’s writers use this karmic opportunity to right House’s soul and outlook. THe only thing salvaging this show’s season 8 would be for House to reunite with Cuddy as a changed man. The show has lost so much of its intensity and charm now that Cuddy is gone. I can’t stomach how Lisa Edelstein was low-balled in contract negotiations and find that reason enough to boycott the show. How I wish things had gone differently. I read your column hoping to see news that feeds the glimmer of hope that the network has come to its senses and wooed LE to return to the show as Dean of Medicine. So disappointed with this random turn of events clearly not planned by the show runner or writers.

  • rjw

    Barbara,
    I’m looking forward to buying Season 7 on Tuesday.I’ll have to suffer through the DVD set (no hi-def TV and no Blu ray player),but I should be fine.I have really enjoyed listening to the commentaries on the previous sets,especially the ones where one of the actors participated (probably because they’re not so cut-and-dry).

  • http://barbarabarnett.com barbara barnett

    I really enjoyed the commentary by Lisa E/Greg Y on Bombshells. In fact I liked all of them to be honest. For a change all the commentaries focused more on the acting, the emotions and motivations than on the technical stuff (although there certainly was enough of that)

  • Loo Boo

    @Barbara:

    Does the Season 7 DVD set contain any extras (unedited footage, unused beach pictures, commentary, etc.) from “Thunder Roadtrip,” the defunct [H]ouse episode that was mysteriously scrapped last year? I’ve been waiting a long time for an explanation as to why that episode was never allowed to come to fruition.

  • lobentti

    Barbara ans fellows,
    Let´s wait for this new season, but I think there will be another “House” show, not the one we´re used to. About the 7th season, what bored me was to see our beloved Dr.House being pathetic, nor unhappy, in most of the episodes; the breaking up was predictable from the 1rst ep, mainly because of Cuddy´s reactions, not House´s; but he was blamed for everything, always, what pissed him off; and the ending was (to me, at least) only consequence of these events: first, the break up; then, he shots Harald, in the potato ‘competition’; then, destroys Wilson´s stuff, including the glass of a poster; so, the final scene makes sense – I didn’t see House jealous; I saw him hopping for a new chance and beind deceived, thinking Lisa had lied to him … may be he needed 20 vicodins to go there, and … you know what happened.
    I believe that our ‘old’ House is gone, now it will be another story, for better or worst, who knows?
    Thanks.

  • 08joanna

    In answer to Loo Boo — I’ve now heard the commentary in Moving On, and David Shore explained a lot about the defunct first episode. There’s no footage of it on the DVD, and he says they probably will never release any of it, because they decided it just wasn’t very good and wanted to go a different way with the first episode. Now What?, with House and Cuddy’s interactions all taking place in House’s apartment, seemed much more appropriate and believable than having them go to the beach and a concert on their first day together, especially in light of what happened the night before (the crane collapse and Hanna’s death). It was enough of a stretch to have him lifting her to put her into bed and having them have sex multiple times that day. In any event, Shore said that they reshot nearly all of the first episode because the first version they shot just didn’t work.