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.
Of course each episode, no matter the character drama, is structured around rare or odd medical cases, including a small pox scare (“A Pox on Our House”). We are introduced to Cuddy’s mother Arlene (Candice Bergen), and learn the dangerous lengths to which House will go to eradicate the ever-present pain in his leg (“After Hours”).