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DVD Review: House, M.D. – Season Six

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This five-disc box set of season six of House, M.D. represents 21 episodes of high quality entertainment full of varied situations that Dr. Gregory House, well played by Hugh Laurie, and his colleagues encounter at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey. Dean of Medicine Dr. Lisa Cuddy, played by Lisa Edelstein, and Dr. James Wilson, played by Robert Sean Leonard, get most of House’s attention as long-time colleagues as well as love interest and best friend, respectively.

House’s highly specialized medical team is led by Foreman, played by Omar Epps; Chase, played by Jesse Spencer; Cameron, played by Jennifer Morrison; Thirteen, played by Olivia Wilde; and Taub, played by Peter Jacobson. Chase and Cameron’s long-standing relationship reaches closure with Foreman and Thirteen’s while Taub’s marriage factors into his professional life. The only non-medical major character, Lucas Douglas, played by Michael Weston, also returns into the fold.

Laurie will eventually win an Emmy for his amazing work, which also includes directing arguably the best episode of the season where the hospital goes into “Lockdown” as the staff searches for a missing baby. This episode provides some realistic closure between Cameron and Chase plus a fun “dare” sequence between Thirteen and Wilson while Foreman and Taub buddy up in the records area. The best part is the relatively short but ample featurette on Laurie’s direction called “A Different POV.”

Season six tested audience perceptions, expectations, and limitations while the talented cast and guest stars showcased their talents on several fronts. House underwent a life challenge more unbearable than his chronic leg pain, with guest star Andre Braugher playing psychiatrist Dr. Darryl Nolan, who guides House through his two-month Vicodin rehab stint at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. Braugher also appears in later episodes including “Baggage.”

Other standout guest star roles include James Earl Jones as an African dictator in “The Tyrant,” which created a huge development for Chase and Foreman while David Strathairn goes toe to toe with House as a dying father estranged from his daughter in “Lockdown.”

One great standout episode among this high quality cache is a day in the life of Cuddy in “5 to 9,” which focuses on the storytelling strengths of the series that often get overlooked, especially in the optional commentary. Writers juggle several characters well with realistic storylines sans stereotypes and clichés.

The last episode, aptly titled “Help Me,” gave audiences hope that tragic circumstances would bring certain characters closer. This episode was shot on a high definition camera, so the Blu-ray version is predicably sharper visually while this DVD version offers director commentary and great information from rescue consultant Larry Collins.

Despite House’s despicable and impulsive behavior audiences still have a vested interest in this medical genius who makes some drastic changes in his life — including speed dating, medical conferences, and karaoke, which adds some needed content variety amid the stark drama and medical situations. On the personal side, past characters and situations factor into House’s continuing recovery, but writers bump the other characters’ progressions along a bit further, which forces House to address his life direction more seriously.

The season progresses logically as House tries some new careers, but eventually focuses his much-needed talents back at the hospital where he is predictably in high demand once reinstated. This season offers several different plotlines, but tends to focus on the relationship between House and Cuddy. Wilson remains House’s closest friend, but his role finally shifts due to a new relationship with his ex-wife Sam Carr, played by Cynthia Watros.

The medical special effects and cinema-style filmmaking enhance the realism, surprise twists, and occasional shock value in these quality episodes. The quality visuals are sharp on DVD while the Blu-ray version offers House, M.D. audiences a high-definition option for the first time on home video. The widescreen option is available and the audio includes Dolby Digital 5.1 plus English, and Spanish subtitles.

Disc 3 has option commentary on the “Wilson” episode while Disc 5 offers commentary on “Help Me.” Disc 1 contains the most bonus features including “A New House for House,” “New Faces in a New House,” and an exclusive short titled “Before Broken: An Exclusive Original Short,” which concentrates on the filming of the two-part season debut episode.

The extras make great additions, but could be even more extensive. It is challenging to sustain home video sets while planning the next season, but some new bonuses like selectable audio feeds from each star during a key sequence, storyboards of scrapped endings/subplots or a special effects behind-the-scenes featurette would be welcome additions.

Change is not easy while character progression is even harder. This series pulls it off very well, so watch the season in sequence. This season definitely sets up the main characters for some personal bliss in season seven, which starts on Monday, September 20.

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