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House, M.D. and the Ratings Game: A Differential Diagnosis

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There have been times over the first six seasons of House that the show has changed direction. In an effort to stay fresh–for and the creative team who write and perform it–David Shore and company have never shied away from taking a risk, whether that means jettisoning House’s entire team of fellows, sending him for therapy to kick his Vicodin habit, or, as they have for season seven allowing the chronically miserable House to be happy, hopeful–and in love. Cast members have come, gone, come back again, only to go once more, this time for good. 

The fandom—that group of mostly Internet-based hard-core fans (and yes, I include myself) —is, I suppose “the base,” in 2010 political terms. But even the fandom is not a unified voice. Some love the coupling of House and Cuddy (even thinking that it’s way overdue); some hate the very idea and believe with all sincerity that if only Cameron, older and wiser, came back into the picture, House would find again his one true love. Still other believe that until House acknowledges seriously what he has joked about so many times—his passion for Wilson, he will be unfulfilled, denying the real love of his life. Some would prefer House to remain without any romantic entanglements at all (save a hooker or two on the side).

Me, I go with the flow. As long as the writing is good, the characterizations are consistent with what we know about them and the acting is honest, earnest and in the moment, I’m right there. Take me along for the ride, wherever—and with whomever—House sojourns. 

The fact is, among the millions (and millions) of people who watch House, whether on Fox, or in syndication on Bravo or USA Network, the fandom people (myself included) are a fairly small part of the whole. Most people watch House with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but even when people do get really hooked, they forget to tune in (cursing themselves afterwards if they’ve forgotten to set the DVR), miss an episode here and there and seldom watch an episode more than once (okay, or twice).

They watch mega-marathons on USA Network or Bravo, both owned by House’s producing corporation NBC/Universal. Most of them are not going to stop watching because House is together with Cuddy (or anyone else), that is, unless it’s done poorly or made boring. That’s what causes viewer drift—when they simply stop caring. (That happened to me with The X-Files mid season seven, when egos on both sides of the camera made for very bad television too often, but I digress.)

It’s a bit hard to tell so early in the season (which I’m enjoying immensely), but it seems the ratings (shiver and quake) are a bit down from last year’s numbers. However, two episodes hardly make a trend. But nonetheless, the question debated hotly and passionately among the “fandom” and some talking heads in Internet TV critic land is “why?”  

Some argue that the numbers are down because the creators have taken House down a different path this season. Becoming involved with his boss Lisa Cuddy after (at least) four seasons of flirting and parrying must be it. Getting them together is the death knell: get out the coffins. Really? You mean like when they changed up House’s team in season four (and jettisoned Cameron from the narrative? And Chase for that matter?) At the time, the fans clamored about how that was going to be the death of the series. 

I talk about the show all the time (away from my blog and the fandom) to people who’ve only just started watching it; I talk to people who  stopped enjoying it, but have now come back to it (making a point of telling me how much they are enjoying season seven—although why they tell me, I’m not sure, since I’m not attached to the show.)

I have spoken to more and more people over the last couple of months, just now discovering the series on USA or Bravo. Because the episodes on those networks are often shown out of sequence, I always suggest they rent or buy the DVDs so they can observe House’s journey right from the start. Being part of House’s journey, watching him struggle and win, only to falter and pick himself up over six seasons makes for fascinating viewing. 

People seem to watch House for so many reasons: the medicine, the wisecracks, the characters, the relationships. That’s why the series such a pleasure: you can watch it casually or watch it for meaning beyond perhaps what even the writers originally intended.

To attribute a small (but possibly significant) downswing in the ratings (especially after only two episodes have aired this season) to a perceived directional change in the series is to overly simplify what contributes to the ratings themselves—and to dismiss possible flaws in the rating system itself given the epidemic time-shifting habits of the television viewing public.

The 8 p.m. timeslot has certainly affected the number of viewers who tune in as it airs. I’m one of those who do not get home from work in time to see the episode live (and might therefore erroneously represent one teeny tiny dropped viewer). I DVR episodes and watch when I get home (and without the commercials) or wait till my purchased Amazon video on demand copy downloads to my TiVo.

Speaking of commercials, the breaks in the action during House episodes is incredibly disruptive—and I know of many, many fans who simply refuse to watch episodes live for that reason. They watch later on DVR or download from Amazon specifically to avoid the increasingly intrusive breaks.

The reported ratings do not account for all (or even most) DVR and rented/purchased streaming views. These are legitimate views, but if not counted (and I confess ignorance of the exactitudes involved with the ratings numbers), then each of those would erroneously represent one less viewer.

Then we have the competition: Dancing with the Starsthe number one rated series—airs opposite House. Ouch (for any series that has to go up against that powerhouse—and this week with Sarah Palin making an appearance? Double ouch.)

And of course after seven years, we cannot discount viewer attrition, and even those within the coveted demographic range, who have aged out of it by year seven. I’m not sure of that effect, and it’s likely minimal, but hey, it’s probably as valid as saying “Huddy” has caused the decline all by itself. 

It’s unlikely that the ratings are causing Fox much worry. House is still a very successful show, coming in among the top 20 for the (all important) demo (yeah, the one I’m not in anymore) during the premiere week. Would it have higher ratings had Cameron stayed? Had House remained miserable and drug addicted? Had the original team stayed as fellows for six years? (Yes, I know Foreman and Chase are still working for House, but are they still fellows or simply on his staff?) No one really knows the answer to those questions and it really doesn’t matter. Shore and company have followed their own vision and for six-plus years it seems to be working. 

End of rant and looking forward to episode three, “Unwritten,” airing Monday night at 8 p.m. ET, and guest starring Amy Irving.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • Kelsey

    To be honest, I think the plunge in the ratings has nothing to do with season 7, but more with a combination of “dancing with the stars” and season 6. I personally feel like season 7 is being made with the idea that a romantic relationship will bring viewers back who were put off last season.

    The greatest plunge in ratings in the history of the show was “The Choice” last year, only drawing in about 9 million viewers. The numbers of the other episodes surrounding that episode are around 10-11 millions (which still isn’t too shaby) but I feel that people sort of tuned out last season towards the end because the middle of the season had been such a let down (my humble opinion). I feel as though the episodes were kind of chaotic, lacked substantial plot and felt kind of boring which I think I can assume was a thought shared by the general public.

    The general public, not the hardcore fans, aren’t always interested in the delicate details and symbols/metaphors the show uses. They’re looking for dramatic medicine, some wise-ass remarks from House, maybe some funny moments with Wilson and then a romantic scene or two thrown in there with one of the many couples. When that sort of stuff comes to a stand-still and the medical storyline isn’t dramatic enough to hold up an episode on it’s own, people become bored (blaming it on the forumla aspect of the show) and switch the channel. Not only that, but if those episodes continue for multiple episodes in a row, people won’t bother to tune in anymore because they figure they will become bored.

    So in my opinion, the people that are blaming ‘huddy’ for this decrease in ratings can’t validate their arguments until later into the season because at the moment they have nothing to base that logic off of. Let’s look at some numbers:
    According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_House_episodes). Yes I do realize, awesome source……..but anyways
    Remorse (6×12) had 14.2 million viewers, in the span of 8 episodes, which aside from the wonderful “5 to 9” had very minimal House and Cuddy interactions, the numbers dropped to 9.9 million viewers by “The Choice”. If anything, according to the numbers, it seems as though a lack of House and Cuddy is what is decreasing the ratings. All I’m trying to say here is that people want to blame a popular couple for the death of their show which in reality I think is Shore and Jacobs trying to save it.

  • Sam

    Um, no offense to you, but everyone out there knows that you are one of the #1 hardcore Huddy shippers, don’t you think you’re lying to yourself with that statement of going with the flow? And of course, YOU and your fellow Huddies would never blame Huddy for the decrease of the ratings. Sorry, but please, don’t try to sound unbiased when you clearly are. I’ve talked to and written with a lot of fans in the fandom throughout the years and most of the people I talked to liked the subtle hints throughout the first seasons but none wants to see a full-blown ship on the show (least of all with Cuddy). So, sorry but YES I blame Huddy for the mess. And if Huddy fans are to stubborn to see that, I’ll ask – what if it wasn’t Cuddy? You wouldn’t be so enthusiastic either. Don’t lie to yourself, it’s ridiculous. Problem is that you Huddy fans don’t want to see what’s wrong with the show, and you claim everyone with justified criticism is just a silly teenager. You don’t even listen to their objectives. The behaviour of Huddy fans makes me acutally feel ashamed that I have ever counted myself as part of the fandom. Congrats, if you guys wanted to achieve a fandom with Huddy fans only you’re on a good way. We’ll see if the show can survive that. I doubt it.

  • sylvia

    Having watched from the very first episode of the very first season (like all others in the ‘fandom base’) I can say with certainty, two episodes into S7, that the production values are sloppy, the scenes feel barely rehearsed or blocked and the writing is lackluster.

    None of which is caused by the Huddy coupling.

    Yes, I am laying the blame at the threshold of the directors office and various ‘schmucks with laptops’ as Hugh so cheekily calls them. I want them to be better, to pay more attention, to not be satisfied with the first draft, or the first run-through. I know they can do it, as they have before, and it will impact the ratings!

    When Lisa says ‘It’s called…’ in Now What, it is a cringe worthy moment of acting that a director should have caught and done over. Lisa deserves the opportunity to try again in that scene.

    When Hugh is in the kitchen, in that unfortunate choice of a pin-striped, ill-fitting bathrobe, how is it that no one on the production crew noticed the large black blob of, well, something, on his a** throughout the entire scene. It drove me to distraction. Such an obvious and easy thing to fix before calling the scene a wrap. Sloppy.

    S6 and S7 suffer from not being ‘tight’, particularly when compared to prior seasons. (With the exception of the mighty Broken which is as good as it gets for broadcast television).

    And of course, Fox’s backward logic of putting their cornerstone drama up against DWTS defies explanation. (As does the popularity of DWTS but that is a discussion for another day)

    I will enjoy this show thoroughly, and remain devoted through all seasons to come, but I will also watch with a critical eye and will celebrate loudly when they hit the mark with true perfection.

  • Sasha

    Seirously, I think DWTS would have been a 900 lb gorilla any season, but this year it has such wealth of potential train wrecks (Bristol, Hoff, etc) and a darling golden child (Jennifer Grey) that I think House is going to just have to suck it up this season.

    Which is a pity because (granted only two shows in) I’m loving it. We are seeing sides of House and the supporting characters we haven’t seen before and I, for one, am loving it.

  • BeeJ

    Enjoyed the article…nice job!

    I just wanted to say I’m one of those middle of the road viewers. Sometimes I watch House live and other times I DVR it and watch it by the end of that night, when kids are done with baths and in bed…and I can enjoy it lol.

    To me there’s no point in arguing Huddy vs non-Huddy. It really is hard for me to believe that someone ACTUALLY changes the channel because they just cannot stand seeing certain characters together or on screen. Even non-shippers who complain on forums have to admit…at least they are still watching. Heck, I HATE Taub…absolutely cannot stand him and hate him in every scene he’s in. I just keep watching and don’t punish the whole show by turning the channel or pushing stop on my DVR. My husband and I are not shippers by any means, however I just simply accept that I have been watching this man’s journey for 6 years. I have been watching him and Cuddy do this dance for 6 years. It has been nice to see some payoff regardless if it lasts or not (It probably won’t…let’s be honest). I have seen him addicted to drugs for 5 years, almost go to jail, I’ve seen him lose his mind, admitted to an insane asylum, in psychotherapy…what’s so wrong with seeing him try to make an adult relationship work?

    I truly believe all this is CRAZY premature. Not to mention a giant miscalculation by Fox. Older shows need a little tender-love-and-care. NATURAL viewer attrition is usually the number 1 killer of some of the greater shows in TV history. Fox should have never allowed House to go against DWTS at 8pm. Should have moved it to Tues or Wed night.

    Again, I believe the fandom needs to cool it and give the season time to breath (2 epi’s in is NOT enough time). DWTS goes off air November 23rd. House will be in the middle of holiday hiatus and returns in Jan 2011. The real ratings debate should begin at that time…as there will be NORMAL competition at 8pm and then we see where DWTS viewers go when they come back.

  • van ledger

    I´m a big fan of the show from the beginning, I love House, I believe it is one of the greatest characters ever, but honestly, I really dont enjoy this 2 first chapters of season 7, It isn´t directly about the huddy thing, I like Cuddy, but I feel House ( especially in “selfish”) like out of character,lately is acting more like Wilson does. ( and I love Wilson,I´m a bit Hilson, but House should be House). I really hate see House like a dumb puppet of cuddy, I like see him confront everything, be rebel, be genius, be a little jerk (XD) because that is House, that is the reason we love him. I miss see House like House, I miss the times when the medical case was relevant and who sleep with him didn´t matter so much. I really hope see House back to be the amazing character who I fall in love!
    (and I sorry if my english is bad)

  • Sarah

    I’m the only “fan” at my office, but a year ago, all 9 other people were tuning in regularly. Now, I’m the only one still watching.

    The easy banter, compelling cases, hilarious clinic scenes, and fabulous characterization are all gone. Insults flung back and forth between House and Cuddy, under the guise of flirting, put me off, but it also is why one of my co-workers stopped watching altogether. Clinic scenes in season 6 and now season 7 serve only to further whatever unbelievable plot is crammed down our throats. They used to fill time by making me laugh until I cried, while also telling the audience more about House’s nature or background.

    One co-worker said he stopped watching because the show has turned into a tired old soap opera, and I have to agree.

    Kudos to Shore and company for bravely forging new paths with the show, but shame on them for getting rid of what works, producing episodes based on hastily written scripts that present conflicting backstory, and changing base elements of the characters.

    It’s pretty sad when several million people would rather watch has-beens learn how to dance and then compete against each other instead of suffer through the tripe Shore and company have been polluting their HD sets with.

  • KC

    I enjoyed reading this article, you made some great points.

    To reiterate what Kelsey said, the show’s ratings started seriously declining in season 6. The House/Cuddy relationship certainly cannot be blamed for that, since they barely had one scene together per episode. And though the House/Wilson relationship was featured prominently throughout the season(it got to be a bit overkill IMO), its also wrong to say that people stopped watching because of it. I think the ratings declined in season 6 in part due to the choppy schedule with random multiple week long breaks in between two or 3 episodes. These breaks not only made the season in general seem very choppy and disjointed, it also lost some of the casual viewing audience who simply didn’t know when a new episode was going to air. Also, I am pretty sure that DWTS was also on the air at that time, so again House had to compete with that powerhouse show.

    In regards to Cameron’s departure, I took a look at the ratings from season 6 and they were not really affected at all by it. They even increased a little bit in the episodes following Teamwork. So I don’t think bringing her back would do anything positive for the ratings (nor do I really see the purpose in bringing her back full time).

    There’s no way of really knowing why the ratings change for a show, so pin pointing one thing(especially a relationship or character) as the sole reason for a ratings delcine is rediculous. House is still my favorite show and I am very much looking forward to the rest of season 7. I feel that it has been rejuvinated by the House/Cuddy relationship and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

  • Claire

    I personally love the direction the series has taken, but honestly, I know some people who don’t.

    And I’m not talking about ‘huddy’ here, it would be too semplicistic.
    IMO, the problem is that, around seasons 5-6, the series has changed: the procedural aspects of the show (potw, clinic, etc.) have been marginalised in favor of the development of the characters; and House has begun a personal ‘quest for happiness’ that has partially changed his behaviour.

    I think this has alienated many viewers that watched House essentially as a procedural with a particularly interesting/funny protagonist. The cases are less compelling; and this ‘new House’ (yes, I know he’s not really changed, but you get my point) is probably not very appealing to casual viewers.

    And to be honest, I know that this series was never really a procedural in the first place, and that House’s personal growth was needed (it wouldn’t have been realistic for him to remain miserable and alone all his life), but TPTB should have done a better work in integrating this into the formula of the series without changing it so much, especially since that formula was actually working very well for the viewers.

    Then, of course, I agree with Barbara that there are many other factors for the ratings decrease: the show being in its seventh year, the timeslot, DWTS, etc. etc. But IMO some of the changes in the show did play some role.

  • Sue

    “Go with the flow.” I beg your pardon, but you are very biased toward Huddy. Feel free to defend the ratings, but first you should make an honest disclosure. You write Huddy fanfiction, and in your episode recaps, you dubbed Cuddy, “The angel in pink.” As for Wilson/RSL, a majority of your write-ups barely mention his part in an episode even if he’s a key player. Look at your banner. He’s not among the cast, however Jennifer Morrison is.

    I don’t ascribe Huddy as the sole contributing factor to the rating slide of House. It’s been going downhill for years. The show is getting old and not getting better. Mostly that has to do with Shore’s poor choices since the inception of the survivor arc. Every time he tinkered with the overall season’s ratings eroded.

  • Jace


    Haha, I’m sorry to sound so flippin’ repetitive! But just like any shows that goes against American Idol Jan-May pretty much is DOA. The same happens for any shows opposite DWTS. Literally two episodes in and people want “Heads to Roll” on this, or in this case they want Huddy dead or the C-storyline, House to relapse, be miserable/cranky until the series finale…oh and MORE WILSON!!! That must be what works…MORE WILSON!!! As if season 6 didn’t have A LOT OF WILSON!!! Frankly, I find all the crying about how we “Used be number 1” so pathetic! It’s like an aging Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant…one day the flash goes away, skills decrease, what once was isn’t there anymore…you hope your superstar goes out with some dignity. I feel like my show is! Instead of being bitter that that things are not the same anymore (as if the show was NOT supposed to change at ALL in 7 years) and the end is coming near…simply stop watching and being negative. If not watching isn’t an option, then who cares if 5 million more people aren’t watching…you still are, enjoy the end of the ride!

    Also #5 BeeJ – what you said about this argument being a little premature is right on! DWTS goes off in November and House comes back January. The debate should begin then.

  • Tara

    Talk about “truth hurts”. Excuses come easily to those who work on the show or are rabid fangirls and refuse to acknowledge the voices which have been complaining about the lackluster show since season 5.

    The favorite excuses are (were) the writers strike and the new slot. However, the writers strike was…what? 3 years ago? And the show was moved to Monday almost as long as that. Other shows bounced back after the strike. Other shows (Mentalist) still have amazing ratings, despite being moved to new days/slots. Other shows (NCIS, CSI) still have amazing ratings despite being “old” shows.

    You know when shows like CSI Miami and NCIS: LA beat House in the rating then you have to strip of you fangirl uniform and face the fact that House is…well to put it nicely…going down the drain.

    Huddy is one huge element of it but not the sole reason why the show is bad. It however isn’t helping and it’s merely a fan service.

    The original title of the show is House MD. MD as in Medicinae Doctor. MADICINAE, which quite frankly the show is no longer about. It got pushed aside so that there’s enough screentime for nakedness, sexapades and crude sexual jokes. The show only benefits from the amazing talented actors that Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard are (with the help of LE and JS, the rest is just a boring lot)

  • ann uk

    I haven’t seen the first episodes of series 7 yet. owing to Sky TV’s infuriating delays, but I feel some of your correspondents may be too gloomy.

    I hated the first few episodes of series 4, but watching them now in the context of all that has happened since, I can enjoy them and still find things I missed.

    So , I prefer to trust the House team to find ways of alloying House’s happiness without repeating themselves.

    That said, I know that even House must end , even if only to save Hugh from developing a permanent limp, and I still don’t know if I think it will be tragedy or fulfilment

  • Brittani

    I’m going to go out on a limb and admit to enjoying the House/Cuddy pairing, but I am aware of a number of people who despise it and have discontinued watching the show — though, as a corollary, I’m also aware of a number of people who continue watching it, or who now want to watch it (my roommate included — yes, I’ve converted her to House!). So I agree that the House/Cuddy relationship/new terrain has probably contributed to a slight dip in the ratings. Personally, my problem with the show lies in the fact that you’ve got Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein, Robert Sean Leonard, and a whole slew of fantasmic guest stars (Jennifer Grey and Candice Bergen) and their talent is being wasted. Where’s the wit and the snark that audiences fell in love with? That sharp writing, with subtle jokes that rely on an intelligent audience to understand and laugh at? I understand that season 6 was supposed to be a dark place, and I think Hugh Laurie (and the rest of the cast) did beautifully, but that crap is done! I don’t know. I suppose I’m one of the few House/Cuddy supporters who predicts the end of the relationship and House returning to some dark place, but before THAT writing returns, I’d like season 2/3 wit, funny shit that makes me laugh out loud at my television screen. I adore the show, love it, in fact. It’s my 21st century X-Files (of which I watched every episode, even though I grew up in Italy), so I’ll continue to watch it and support the creative process — despite the fact that sometimes I just want to yell at the writers/directors/etc through the screen. I mean, that’s what this is, it’s a creative process, and if we don’t respect all of it, we don’t deserve any of it. It’s like getting halfway through a book and deciding it’s not worth it and discontinuing; it’s not really fair to make judgments without reading the whole book. So, I shall take the advice of Hugh Laurie and “buckle up.”
    –As a side note, please stop dismissing people as “fangirls” simply because they’re not against the House/Cuddy relationship. This comment was an effort (albeit an “iffy” one since I just woke up) to defend the show and perhaps, the writers, but it was not a running diatribe on the greatness that is “Huddy.”

  • Mei

    I can only speak for myself and explain the reason why I stopped watching… I’m still checking in every now and then to see if something interesting seems to be happening in the show, but I USED to be a complete fanatic. I went particularly nuts in season 4 when they got rid of Cameron (who I liked for her own character and her moral counterpoint to House, but I was also a complete anti-shipper of her and House romence) and without that threat I could enjoy the show doubly. Enter 13. The choice of her as a continuing character baffled me, and the only reason I could see for making that choice is that she was a pretty girl who kissed other pretty girls… It made me start to doubt the show creators, the shows intention and I started to nitpick things… I still watched regularly, but things started to annoy me… season 5. 13-fest. I started to skip episodes, the faults started to get bigger, why is Foreman still there, Taub annoyed me, Chase and Camerons weird appearances annoyed me, and 13 in my face all the time annoyed me ALOT. I lost faith in the creators… then they started to talk about Huddy. I’ve never been a shipper (just anti-shipper), but I thought this might be interesting. But it never happened, did it. It just dragged on and on and on. Season 6. It drags on and on and on and ON AND ON! And then it happens, and it actually feels forced. THAT, is amazing. I now have no faith in this show whatsoever. Maybe if they actually had the balls to do something fresh and new and not need TWO YEARS to think about it first, and maybe if they finally got rid of 13 for good, i MIGHT look into it again.
    So Huddy and 13 isn’t the only reasons I stopped watching, but it was a good start.

  • mel35

    great article! personally, I think the lower ratings are because “dancing with the stars” and season 6.

    It’s silly to say “huddy” is the problem when ratings were low last year too, and last year was NOT a huddy season at all!

  • bluehue

    (H)uddy Love

    Billie Holiday (song tweak)

    I don’t know why but I’m feeling so sad
    I long to TRY something I never had
    Never had no kissin’
    Oh, what I’ve been missin’
    (H)uddy Love, oh, where can you be?

    The night is cold and I’m so alone
    I’d give my soul just to call you my own
    Got a moon above me
    But no one to love me
    (H)uddy Love, oh, where can you be?

    I’ve heard it said
    That the thrill of romance
    Can be like a heavenly (hallucination) dream

    Someday we’ll meet (season seven)
    And you’ll dry all my tears
    Then whisper sweet
    Little things in my ear
    Hugging and a-kissing
    Oh, what I’ve been missing
    (H)uddy Love stay on my teevee.

  • I won’t beat a dead horse by saying that while I really like the House-Cuddy pairing, I’m only going where the characters and writers are taking me. So, if that makes me biased, so be it. Fine. End of story. Full stop. This horse has stopped breathing.

    As far as the AI positioning, I do think the lead in really gave the numbers a huge push back in the day (which probably partially accounts for the ginormous numbers back then). People began to watch, failed to get hooked, went on to other things, whatever. New viewers came on, old ones dropped off. The series, after all, is in its 7th season.

    Two episodes hardly make a trend, and my article was intended as a response to another piece in the press the last couple of days. Had that not appeared and got me a-thinking, I doubt I would have written about the ratings at all. I just felt the assertion had to be answered.

  • BlueHue: I just saw your post (must have been posting while I was writing). I sing that Billie Holiday song (it’s a signature piece for me when I do jazz/blues sets). It made me smile.

  • sdemar

    I am glad House & Cuddy are finally together. It was a match-up I saw in the making for the past 3 seasons and the chemistry was there from the pilot. To blame the hook-up (only 2 episodes in) as the reason for the drop in ratings is too simplistic and unfair.

    I suppose I could make an argument the ratings started going south last year because of the lack of House and Cuddy scenes together, the introduction of Lucas and the over abundance of House/Wilson scenes but that would be too simplistic and unfair, too.

    The show is in the 7th season and has stiff competition. Unless you are a diehard fan, viewers are fickle. For me, I plan to stay until the bitter end because this is the first show in my life than I make sure I am home for so I can watch it live. It is still the best around in my opinion.

  • sdemar

    One other comment. Tvbythenumbers showed the premier episode coveted age group went from 4.2 to 5.1. 10M+ plus in viewers, top rated drama for the night, 5.1 in coveted age group. This is bad, why?

  • jonathan

    you seem to forget however, that RATINGS ARE EVERYTHING. If the ratings go bad, the show goes bye-bye(i.e. Lone Star). That only lasted 2 episodes. the only reason House isn’t gone like that is because it has “tenure” on the network. otherwise the ratings have stayed below 6 million viewers and episode. which is a travesty in the television industry. if the rating don’t improve for the show, it will probably be canceled before the season ends.

    let us also not forget that without fans/viewers, there is no show. i personally don’t think Huddy was a wise choice. they castrated House and gave Cuddy his balls. after the writers/producers swore the characters wouldn’t change at all.

    i watch the show because i have to, because it would feel wrong not to. but i hate what they’ve done.

  • Mike

    Count me in as a non-shipping ex-fan who thinks “Huddy” has helped bring this show down. It’s not just what is happening now, but what happened in order to bring it about, which lost the show a lot of credibility, IMO, and definitely drove me away. You can protest that Season 6 was not a Huddy season, but I’d have to disagree. It was obviously heading that way (that awful 80’s dance and ludicrous backstory is one example) and we’d already been told that it was coming. Lucas was just a temporary roadblock, and a character that had to be eviscerated in order to make House look better. Poor, impotent Lucas can never be the stallion that House appears to be – even after a day of crawling around in rubble! The outrageous pranks by Cuddy were the beginning of the big slide for her character, plus turning up the heat on her personal T&A show with the “Oh, isn’t Cuddy so sexy?” anvils. Just ask any random patient! Throw in crotch-grabbing, boob grabbing, and enough anvils to sink the QE2, and they have alienated those of us who enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes medical mystery and House as a genius doctor.

    Blaming football (doesn’t start until 8:30), the time slot (HIMYM is PICKING UP viewers in this time slot now, and other shows fare quite well at 8:00), and the age of the show and its viewers are just excuses. Look at the aging NCIS – last spring they not only faced American Idol, but DWTS as well, and still managed to pull in anywhere from 15-17 million viewers at 8:00! Now it’s holding its own against Glee, a new ratings force to be reckoned with. Perhaps people just want and crave consistency in their television show, and that’s where NCIS delivers and House is all over the place.

    I’m also going to place a portion of the blame on the promotional focus of Season 7. It’s Huddy, Huddy, Huddy, and if you don’t like it, you’re pretty much sh!t out of luck. If Huddy!Sex and crotch-grabbing isn’t what you tuned into House for in the past, you’re out of luck. For me, stunt casting doesn’t even begin to make up for all the show’s problems, especially when I couldn’t care less about the way a certain award-winning actress is going to be used. (I’m not sure how you stand on spoilers, so I won’t be specific.)

    I’m all for House evolving, but it shouldn’t revolve around Cuddy as a “reward.” Wouldn’t it have been more effective if we could have seen House decide against the Vicodin for his OWN personal, moral victory? It would certainly have meant more to folks like me who were gobsmacked by Cuddy swooping in at the last minute.

    I’ll risk a few catty snickers on a House forum (really, ladies?) and say that I think getting rid of Cameron is a factor, not because of any potential romantic involvement with House, but because she represented an opposing view to House when it came to the patient’s care. I enjoyed that she made House stop and think twice about medicine, and not from his “Gee, if I do THIS, I won’t get to bang Cuddy tonight” angle. TPTB not only got rid of Cameron in the most ridiculous of contrivances, but they also completely alienated her fan base in the process. I don’t think that should be dismissed or snickered at. Again, I point to the success of NCIS as a model of cast and character consistency. Not everyone likes the consistency, but apparently 19 million people did last Tuesday night in the 8:30-9:00 half-hour. Consistency and integrity still count for something these days.

  • madfashionista

    Excellent piece, but having read your marvelous book (which I urge everyone out there to buy) I think you are being disengenuous when you say you “go with the flow.” After all, in this column alone, you devoted Part Two of a long article called “House in Love,” to House and Cuddy. None of us who love the show fanatically can call ourselves unbiased, no matter which way the biases go. And yes, the fandom is thrashing like an anaconda with food poisoning.

    From my end, anecdotal evidence suggests that many long-time fans (friends) stopped watching during the last season. Most had that vague feeling that the show wasn’t as interesting anymore. If one steps away from the fandom, you notice that the larger press no longer writes about the show (i.e. The New York Times, etc.), even as much as they did at the beginning of Season 6. Ken Tucker’s negative review in EW wasn’t in the print edition, only online. Whereas at the beginning of last season, nearly every national news outlet wrote about “Broken.” There’s nothing new about two television characters hooking up, unlike putting your protagonist in a two-hour episode in rehab.

    Personally, I believe that “House” shows signs of fatigue, and that once House got sober, he was essentially neutered. Now, he’s too much like any other snarky lead character on “Psych” or many other shows. Particularly if you are a casual fan.

    I loved Seasons 1-5, but after that…

    One reason that “NCIS” has remained so popular is that not only do they manage to keep the formula fresh, the characters are consistent over the years, and their personal lives intertwine with the larger story. The larger story is always front and center. I’m not saying that “NCIS” is a better show, far from it. But “House” could have benefited from sticking to that approach.

    And as someone commented above, the writing has been sloppy, and the plotlines recycled.

  • Delia_Beatrice

    I applaud the writers and producers of “House” precisely for not kneeing down and sticking to the formula, like NCIS and other shows. Which would have made it yet another cheap commercial show, unlike the work of art that it actually is.

    “House” is a character drama – not a procedural show, not a comedy and definitely not a way for bored viewers to escape into a fictional world where they feel their petty frustrations being avenged by the sharp-tongued doctor who never gives a crap.

    For 7 years, “House” has taken on creative challenges of great depth and complexity, and it has dealt with them with utmost brilliance. The continuity and coherence of the show are beyond reproach, while the psychology of the characters and their evolution are flawless.

    The depth and complexity of the journey House himself was, and is, undertaking are impressive. The show is beautifully written, directed and performed, keeping its incredibly high standards of quality after these 6 years.

    In my opinion, what happened to the ratings in season 6 is due to a few factors within the show, and many factors outside the show (which Barbara mentions in her article). In short, within the show, i blame the public losing interest on the following: the continuity of the storylines was broken by taking a whole season to address Huddy, which “Both Sides Now” had left the fandom hungry for; the airing schedule drove viewers away; the absence of the clinic duty took away an important, much loved element; and House’s paternity issue, opened in season 5, just like Huddy, was left pretty much hanging.

    I have high hopes that this season will make up for all of these and i am watching breathlessly – and applauding with both hands and feet.

    In regard to Barbara being biased because she is a “Huddy shipper” (awfully silly term): i disagree fully. None of us was born a “Huddy shipper” or anything else. We loved “House” and House, all of us, and we
    all DID go with the flow – it’s the flow that drove many viewers into believing that House and Cuddy would make an exceptional couple. The way this romance was built for 6 years, its deep and complex layers, the chemistry of the actors and the insane charm of the on screen pairing are the reasons Huddy fans have been wishing to see this couple in a real relationship. So to say that Huddy fans don’t go with the flow, but pressured (?!) TPTB to go into this “catastrophic” direction is absurd beyond any imagination.

  • Jay

    I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m in favor of the House and Cuddy relationship, but I am strongly opposed to having it be the focus of the show. I agree with everyone here that the show has lost some of its viewers since the medical aspects of the show have often been pushed to the side in favor of exploring the personal lives of the characters. But, I think that this is a challenge that every show faces and sometimes House the show is good at doing this and sometimes it does poorly in this.

    I really did not like how the show over publicized “Huddy” prior to the season 7 premiere. Not only did it greatly annoy the non-huddy fans, but it also annoyed me since it reduced their relationship to sex and gave audiences the wrong impression of the relationship. The problem with House and Cuddy’s relationship prior to season 7 was that sometimes it was shoved down people’s throats (as with the premiere promotion) and usually when it was, it was done in an attempt for the show’s creators to show audiences how perfect and obvious the pairing is. In my book, the attempts weren’t always successful. I’ve always been in favor of showing things in a subtle way and so that was a major problem that I had with earlier season.

    Now that they’re finally together and the unresolved tension has been resolved, maybe the relationship will eventually take a backseat and the medical mysteries will become the focus again. In addition, I hope that the dynamics of the House/Cuddy relationship will change and will be more mature and will not be childish like it was in the past which should appease those who favor mature writing in their shows and the “Huddy” fans (like me) who feel that the relationship was portrayed foolishly in the past.

    What I’m trying to say with all this (and I don’t think I’m doing this very well! Sorry, it’s early in the morning for me. 🙂 ) is that in the beginning of each new season, I always try to give the show a chance despite my reservations about the preceding seasons- I try to view the show as starting from a clean slate. Also, for those of you who love the snarkiness that House the character had in the first couple of seasons, I strongly believe that a person cannot stay the same for six years having gone through what House has gone through. Character development is essential and from what I’ve seen in “Selfish,” the snarkiness of House is starting to come back, but he is still at the same time showing evidence that he is beginning to change which is healthy development for the character. However, with the episode, I do feel that it was a major disappointment that House wasn’t as involved with the patient as he usually is. Hopefully that will change as the House/Cuddy relationship becomes more settled or when the relationship ends.

    In my opinion, I didn’t really like “Now What?”, but “Selfish” has shown me that the creators are trying to keep House and Cuddy roughly the same characters as they always were despite the changes in both of their lives. Also, the show is trying to address one “couple issue” each episode and usually by the end of the episode, the issue is resolved which for me isn’t ideal, but for a non-huddy fan this should be good news since it means that by the first half of the season, hopefully all the relationship conflicts should be resolved such that the medical mysteries can be front and center during the second half of the season. I’m just trying to show that despite the “Huddy” relationship, I feel that non-huddy fans do have some things to look forward to, depending on how the plot lines play out.

    Regarding ratings, I think it can be attributed to a variety of factors, but “Huddy” is certainly a consideration for the dip in the ratings since relationships are always going to be something that divides viewers. But, I that it is premature to declare that the show is doomed or that “Huddy” is ruining the show after just seeing two episodes. For those individuals who hated Huddy before, you might (and I use that word loosely since I know some people might hate the relationship no matter what) be surprised this season since the relationship might not be the same as it was before since they are now officially together and not foolishly dancing around each other.

    Although the writing has been really bad in the past and the plotlines have been sometimes ill conceived and played out, it’s a new season and I think that everyone should give the show a chance.

    I say all this while desperately trying not to offend the opinions of anyone here. I’m so sorry if I was unsuccessful in this. 🙂

  • Jay

    So sorry for my long comment- I didn’t realize how long it would be since I have a small screen to write comments!

  • Sue

    I have been a diehard fan since the beginning. I have watched seasons 1, 2 and 3 many, many times. Those seasons were the “perfect storm.” Excellent writing, casting, plotlines, acting and directing made these episodes timeless. For me, the problems started with season 4.

    The change in the cast was unnecessary. I don’t think the survivor arc worked. None of the 30 actors they hired as candidates were good actors except for Anne Dudek and the actor who played Scooter. I have never liked Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn or Peter Jacobson. The chemistry between House and the new team was non-existent. I believe Hugh perceived the energy drain the new team took out of the show. Hugh started to over-act House to the point that we lost the undertone of House’s personality. He played House with too much physicality. His facial expressions became more extreme, his body language was too animated, and he made House crass. Hugh left nothing about House to the imagination. What you saw is what you got. House lost his dimensionality.

    The show is riddled with inconsistencies. The timelines make no sense. Story arcs seem to start from nothing we have seen before. The medical stories became boring. House detached from the patients, making the DDX just a string of scenes to service the formula. The actors cast to play patients and family members couldn’t hold my interest.

    The writing served the characters in the beginning. Then, it started to serve the writers. I call that kind of writing “arrogant.” Who needs so many references to obscure movies, tv shows and books? Those social references only work for those fans who know what those lines mean. For others, it is just a lost or jumbled line that messes with the flow of the story. Dialogue became more complicated, making it difficult to understand what they were talking about for a few lines. That causes a drop in the flow of the episode. It seems this complicated dialogue was added to spruce up the DDX scenes. Instead of adding to the scenes, it detracted. Rather than rely on the words to make the scene interesting, they should have dumped the crappy actors they hired and bring in new ones who could carry these scenes with their acting. To fill the void in these scenes, Hugh started to over-animate House.

    I became bored with the private lives of the peripheral characters. Cuddy’s baby arc, 13’s bisexualtiy and her erratic behavior, her Huntingdon’s diagnosis and the drug trial arc, Taub’s marriage, and 14 all detracted from the core of what made the show interesting. It is hard to believe that the same producers and writers who brought us the great episodes of the first three seasons could think we would find these digressions interesting.

    House needs to be involved with the patients a few times during an episode. Too many episodes in the last few seasons featured House riding in on his white horse at the end of the episode with the diagnosis, having had almost no contact with the patient. I find the episodes where House does interact with the patient the most compelling.

    The episodes I like best are the ones where House is less outwardly expressive and more inwardly pensive. Broken is a good example. The first two episodes this season are also examples. I want to be able to interpret what House is thinking.

    One way to evaluate what fans think of the show is to look at what has happened on the message boards. When people take their valuable time to post, they must have some affinity for the series. After season 3, comments like “boring” started to appear. There were many complaints about the new team. The story digressions with 13 drained energy from the show and diverted attention from House. These story arcs, though unpopular, seemed to go on forever. Fans got bored with them. There were very few posts and few views on new episodes last season and this season on the Fox message boards. This shows that diehard fans were losing interest.

    I loved the latest episode. It seemed to be a return to episodes of old.

    I wonder why it made sense to the producers that the first team would leave after three years as fellows, but we can’t get rid of lousy actors now after three years as fellows? The fact that they added their names to the credits shows that we are not getting rid of them too soon. Only TPTB find these actors and characters worthwhile. The problem is that Hugh is such an incredible actor. Most actors pale in comparison to him. Robert and Lisa can stand with Hugh as competent, great actors. Olivia and Peter are many, many levels below. They are both almost expressionless. This show could have had its pick of great actors; instead, it scraped the bottom of the barrel.

  • speaking of TV By The Numbers, I would direct your attention to its Renew Cancel Index

    Want to address the “go with the flow” comment I made in the piece. (Thanks Madfashionista for dropping by — and your nice words about the book, m’dear). I really do believe (however it may appear) that I am content to go on this ride wherever it goes.

    Because I started writing this column in season four, I probably do give the impression that I’ve got a deep seated “huddy” bias. By the mid-late season three (“Insensitive,” I think), the writers and the Powers That Be had already taken House in that direction. The fourth season, with all the intervening factors tamped down on this idea, but by the time we see Cuddy sitting at House’s bedside worried and holding his hand at the end of Wilson’s Heart, it’s clear a decision had been made.

    I was interested in season one in House’s relationship with Cameron for what it told us about House and his issues/past hurts, etc. And how it helped set up Wilson as House’ protector (sometimes over-protector). I, like House, thought the match was not quite right, and although the attraction was there on his side, he clearly thought she was too young (in many ways). But I liked many things about that relationship (I loved the end of Daddy’s Boy, which stands as one of my favorite scenes in all of the seasons).

    When Stacy came on the scene, I was intrigued with what they did, and I loved them together.

    I’ve written more about Cuddy than the other relationships because it’s been a longer haul. Fair and balanced is tough when the the duration of the tease is not balanced (nor should it be). Anyway, enough ‘splainin’ myself about that.

    If they change direction again, I suppose I’ll decide for myself whether I like it (note difference between “like it” and “it is bad”). So much is a YMMV proposition. For example, if they decide to have House and Wilson admit their mutual love beyond the bromantic/plantonic plane upon which it resides, I’ll quirk an eyebrow because it’s not how I see either character, but I’ll stick around for the ride. it may be great and wonderful–even if I don’t like it. If it’s well done and makes sense to me, I’ll stay around and see what happens to the characters.

    I don’t see what they’ve done season seven as bad. The writing’s fine, the stories are fine. The show is mid-left turn. I want to see what happens (and if they crash and burn “Huddy” I won’t turn off the TV–especially if it fuels the character drama–which is why I watch the show.)

  • madfashionista

    I think Barbara is an excellent critic with a fantastic understanding of the show. And I really don’t think that fandoms (a very small portion of the viewing audience”) can “pressure” NBC/Fox to do anything. Not even TPTB can get the four-act format back!

    According to Entertainment Weekly’s ratings chart of the top 30 shows, House was tied for 27th along with Castle.

  • Gillian

    I quite frankly get very anoyed, when people start ringing the death knell, when a show drops in the ratings!! For a show in its 7th season, it still pulls in the best demo of the night for dramas. Beating out the new and shiney shows. That is something to be very proud about. Do people really expect House to be pulling in 15mil+ viewers a week? no I dont. In fact look at the trend for all the top rated shows, not one of them still live in the dizzy heights they once where. Does that mean people have stoped watching, or does that mean they still watch in another way? Lets look at the rating system in general!! Some feel its the holy grail as to if a show stays or goes!! This is a very old and very outdated system. Today there are many ways a viewer can watch their fave shows. Nobody watches much live TV any more, except for live events like sports or the dreadful DWTS or AI. These events do not replay, and do not go into the DVD market. So to compare a drama to these shows is well! like comparing chalk and cheese. I am sure advertisers are well aware of different media, when they pay for their spots during shows. This drop has nothing to do with Huddy, or Cameron or anything else. Its all down to the way viewers watch their shows today. I am very certain that House is in no danger of cancellation, it must bring in big money for Fox/Universal and will countiue to go on until David Shore or Hugh Laurie calls it a day, that I feel is certain. Networks are not the all powerful they once where, esp now they have cabel networks to contend with. The TV rating system needs to go, or get a very big overhall.

  • Now that’s something I’d be willing to fight for: the return of the 4-act House episode. I have been told by everyone from Katie Jacobs to Doris Egan and the other writers how much they loathe the six-act form. They hate it as much as we do, but are powerless to do anything about it. “Hate it, hate it, hate it!” is what I recall KJ telling me in an interview a during season five.

  • Kim in California

    Sorry, but my husband is not one of the rabid fanbase and he stopped watching this season after fifteen minutes of the first episode. He said that he doesn’t get this Cuddy stuff and that House is no longer House. When my husband, who could care less who he ends up with, stops watching it makes me shudder. It means that other ‘average’ viewers have stopped watching. I even know several rabid viewers, who didn’t care about who he ended up with,that stopped watching during season 6 claiming the stories just weren’t that interesting and House himself was a characture of the old House, the one we fell in love with in Seasons 1-3.

  • Action Kate

    Re DVR viewing, I believe Nielsen counts “Live+1” and “Live+3,” and possibly “Live+7” (the plus beng the number of days after the live airing). The “overnights” are just live, and then the next week you get a clearer picture when DVR numbers are added in. Downloads (Amazon/iTunes) or streaming (the show’s site/Hulu) are not factored in, IIRC.

    I’m with Barbara in the “go with the flow so long as it doesn’t suck” camp. I’m willing to give House/Cuddy a chance, but I also would have watched House/Cameron and House/Wilson if they’d pursued it. But I cut the show a lot of slack because I will watch Hugh Laurie in just about anything.

    I do agree that the show has shifted from procedural to character study. Whether you as a viewer are okay with that shift depends on what you started watching the show for. Hubby and I happened to stumble over “House” during “All In” — I turned on the TV to a close-up of the most astonishing, riveting, intelligent blue eyes I’d ever seen — and we both just sank into our chairs and raptly watched this brilliant, cranky SOB work magic. It wouldn’t have mattered whether he was a doctor, cop, senator, or dogcatcher; we would have watched. So I’m okay with the show focusing on House trying to find some happiness, because for me, the show is about House, not the MD. (Hubby, on the other hand, enjoys the medical mysteries more, and would like to see more focus on those, so there you go.)

  • Flo

    I’m really glad not to be a shipper. I don’t ship any couple. I don’t make favorites which means I don’t make least favorite. I watch the show as a whole. I really “follow the flow” and try to see how it is construct (I even wrote a whole analysis about this).
    That means that I don’t have to post stupid comments that are just here to insult other viewers and have little to nothing to do with the show itself.

    I agree it is difficult not to be biased and real “objectivity” doesn’t exist. However, I really believe that not to ship and watch the show as a whole, “following the flow”, as Barbara put it, helps you not to fall in wrong footsteps.
    Every article is written according the opinion of the author, it’s undeniable. However, some authors are more respectful of different opinions than others and try to be as little biased in their article as possible. I believe Barbara to be that kind of author. Her reviews may be a little biased but I think she managed to cover every storyline in them, with admittedly a focus on House’s one. The show being called “House” it is quite normal after all, especially that she also writes in the first person.
    Every opinion is welcome here as long as it is respectful.

    Unfortunately, if the comments here prove something is that people have a hard time to be respectful and are really childish hypocrites.

    – 1st of all, Delia is right, the show was never a medical procedural per se and it ALWAYS been about House himself. It always been a journey into one’s mind from day one. The show was admittedly more a procedural in the first three seasons but the fact that it is totally a character study now is not a incomprehensible change.

    – Second of all, Yes, you can watch this show in many different ways. if you prefer the procedural aspect of “House”, it is totallty understandable to be disappointed with the show today. I’m not sure that blaming this for the low ratings, talking about a “Golden Age” is fair though.
    Same thing with people who watch just for House’s jerkiness and sarcasm. It is your right to do so but saying that House is OOC everytime House is less of a jerk is unfair too because we all know that House jerkiness is sort of an act, a way to protect himself and that there always been something else under the mask. David Shore and Katie Jacobs said so themselves. Now you may not like what is behind the mask, you’re intitled to but there is a difference between dislike and being in denial.

    – Third, everyone who doesn’t have a problem and even like the House/Cuddy thing is not a “hardcore Huddy shipper” nor a “fangirl”. Those critics are childish, ridiculous and absolutely untrue.
    I never read fanfics, I don’t squee all over the Internet, I didn’t root for one particular couple let alone House & Cuddy, drooling over my TV. I’m not a “fangirl” nor a shipper but, yes, I like this new direction in the series, finding it interersting for what it will probably say about House as a character.
    Like Delia, I like the fact that the writers dare shaking things up, keeping us guessing. They dare to take all the roads available (even the not unanimously liked ones) and I send my kudos to them for this.

    I’d like to add that those kind of critics I just talked about are, not only pathetically childish, but make the one who formulate them hypocrites. As much as I found the squee and overly enthusiastic messages of the hardcore shippers over the Internet slightly annoying, I must admit that the ridiculous hate messages from the people who hate a ship are equally annoying.
    BOTH people are irational in their love/hate feelings about a character or a duo.
    The people who hate “Huddy” say that they are moron “fangirls” but what this kind of ridiculous rant say about the one who make them? Ever wondered that? It’s especially ridiculous when those statements are formulate by someone who also ships.

    That’s why the Fancast article, to which this one is a reply, was bad IMO. It openly insulted every fan who doesn’t mind the Cuddy/House thing while being written by a “Hilson” shipper at the same time. So shipping House/Wilson is okay, it makes you a good fan but to like House and Cuddy together only makes you a “fangirl” who read too many fanfics? (yes the author actually wrote this in her column if you can believe it).
    The only reasons she listed “Huddy” (hate those terms BTW) as the reason for the drop in the ratings was because she wants more House/Wilson scenes as her last sentence showed it.

    Even if you’re not a shipper and hate the House/Cuddy thing, I don’t think it is fair to say that it is the only reason for the drop in the ratings, especially after only two episodes.
    I must agree with Barbara here that it is overly simplistic, regardless of what you think of this pairing.

    I have no idea why the ratings dropped, maybe you all have a part of the answer or maybe we are all wrong.
    But please, try to remain smart enough to not be satisfied with simplistic explanations and critics and please try to remain smart and civil in your comments.

    I realized that I will probably pass as an arrogant, Hollier than you, deep down a huddy fan but I’m really not a shipper and this was just my opinion about shipping and shippers wars.

  • Adele

    I just found this site only because I’m gulping up all things Huddy. I tend to focus heavily on things for a period of time and then burn out and move on to the next thing–but for right now this is what I want to spend my time on.

    I also don’t know about ratings and don’t care really but I would say I’m one of those people who rarely watches any show the first time it airs. While I really like House, I have watched a total of two episodes on the original broadcast date.

    I discovered House about two years ago while home sick from school and a USA marathon was playing and I really liked it. I liked the House and Cuddy interaction but House and his crazy self (the fact that he says whatever the hell he wants and doesn’t listen to people is great to watch because you can’t be like that in real life) along with medical mysteries is what hooked me. I think I’ve seen most all the episodes but only on cable.

    When season six came, I thought I would watch it and set it to record on the DVR. I watched the season opener and liked it fine but didn’t really watch for the rest of the season with any regularity. I caught a few episodes–well really only whatever episodes happened to be left after the DVR deleted things looking for space.

    Honestly, I’ve discovered I like to watch these kind of shows as reruns on cable. All summer long I’ve been watching NCIS marathons on USA and Sleuth and I love it but it has not been nor will it be added to my DVR schedule. I’ll catch the new stuff when it makes its way onto a marathon in a year or two.

    The second House episode I watched on the original broadcast date was this year’s season opener. I did so because I saw the promos on Fox that House and Cuddy were finally gonna hook up and I had to tune in to see that. I really, really like them and loved the episode.

    Having said that, while it’s set to record, I have no desire to sit and wait for House to come on every week. I haven’t even watched the second episode yet. Plus, I’ve read about it here so I’m good. It’s not that I don’t like what I’m hearing or reading, I think I would but television is just not a must see issue with me. I just kidna watch things ‘whenever’.

  • ICU

    ‘Mike’ you are not a ‘non-shipper’ you are a Hameron-a very dogmatic one at that. Yes, I do know this for a fact. The fact is, you can say it’s Huddy till you’re blue in the face, but you have no more a clue on what the true reason(s) is (are) than anyone else. You’re just pontificating about what you hate and saying that that’s why the numbers are what they are right now. Everyone is guessing and basing those guesses on their personal opinions and likes/dislikes. Therefore they should be taken as such. As for NCIS, it is a fine show but the writing isn’t as good as on “House” in many areas. Its strength is the all of the characters are more likeable, while “House” mostly has House, Cuddy and Wilson as, by far, their most-beloved characters (at least online-which is all I can observe) and it leans more heavily than “House” does on the procedural. And historically procedurals do better and last longer because you don’t have to keep up with the character stuff. I like this show because the character stuff is more interesting than it is in shows like NCIS. But again, this is my opinion, just like yours is your opinion about praising NCIS. You take the fact that it has good numbers and say that it’s intrinsically a better show. That is not a fact, that is an extrapolation based on what you want it to be. I think more people can tune in and watch NCIS as a family and that it appeals to the ideals of a larger portion of Americans than “House” does with its basic philosophy on many things. Again, things I’ve observed when comparing them. But either of us saying this or that is why NCIS has better numbers is just a guess because we really don’t know, do we? You’re mixing fact and personal opinion up together and behaving as if it were all fact. It’s not. The reasons for the difference in numbers on all of our parts is mere conjecture.

  • madfashionista

    I wanted to add that according to Entertainment Weekly’s broadcast only weekly ratings in their magazine, House tied for 27th along with Castle.

    And you need to buy Barbara’s book.

  • madfashionista

    Whoops-did I post that twice?

    Hilsons, Hamerons, Huddys — how come we never hear about Horemans, Hases or Haubs or Hirteens?

    Maybe it’s for the best… :0

  • Ahhh Madfashionista. Thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂 Listen to this woman–she is wise and smart.

    I’m sure there are a few “Hirteens” round the fandom. After last season’s Lockdown, I might believe there would a few “Toremans” or “Faubs” You’re right. Maybe it’s for the best we haven’t heard…

  • maya

    Thanks for this article. I think people who are accusing you of only caring about Huddy are being illogical. The unstated premise in that accusation is that if you like a ship that you cannot be objective. Which means that no shipper, Hilson, Huddy, Hameron or whatever can have an opinion worth taking into account about these sorts of things because they are ‘biased.’ If it’s impossible for a person who likes a ship to be objective then it’s impossible. Obviously this is a false premise. It is possible to like something and still be fair and objective about it. It depends on the person, not merely what they like. I found all your reasoning to be cogent and the article to be fair. Also, again, the ones who say that Huddies don’t want to blame Huddy are right, most Huddies don’t want to. But that Huddies don’t want to blame Huddy also implies the corollary that Hilsons and Hams want to blame Huddy. A fact which can easily be proven just by taking a look at the things all the shippers say at the places they hang out at online. So both groups have reason for bias and most people are pretty sucky at controlling that bias. I have noted an average of about 10-15% of fangirls from each of the different ships who are pretty consistent about being objective, the rest are intermittent or are terrible at it. From what I observe you try to be pretty fair no matter what ship you like. It’s not like people have to give up the things they like or force themselves to have no preference to be able to write an objective article or have an objective or intelligent opinion on things irl-journalism or news media for instance.

    As for the numbers, if we are still going for objectivity it’s only two episodes in on the new season, so I find it ridiculous for anyone who is honestly trying to be fair to say how well this season is going to be written or played out-unless we have a few prognosticators in our midst. Looking at the numbers myself the most obvious culprit is, as you said, DWTS, the number one show on television right now. But so far (it feels so ridiculous trying to judge the season on two episodes) the key demos (with the dvr ratings taken into account for the first episode) make it seem like it’s doing fine.

  • blacktop

    Barbara, your essay is a breath of fresh air in a miasma of putrid and prejudiced rantings about ratings this week. Thank you for making such a reasonable and calm analysis of an impenetrable situation.

    To argue, as some have done, that it is the resolution of the House/Cuddy dance that has made ratings quiver slightly during these first two weeks of the new season, is patently nonsensical.

    Ratings took a significant hit during season six when Cuddy was missing in action for long stretches and House was not even speaking with her. Much of season six was dreary, depressing, dry and dull.

    This desolation, naturally, drove away some viewers, especially those who enjoyed House’s snarky DDX sessions, his brooding in his fantastically moody flat, his piano playing and motorcycle riding, his sparkling duels of the heart and head with Cuddy, and his reluctant but hilarious clinic patients. So much that we cherish in “House” was missing from season six that it is no wonder that many viewers went missing too.

    Fortunately with season seven, “House” and House seem to have returned at last to classic form. Will those lost viewers come back? I doubt it. I think that the show will remain in the 10 – 11 million range for this season, which, by the way, is very good indeed.

    I think that “House” will continue to make a strong and valiant stand for intelligence against the cheesy and anti-intellectual “Dancing with the Stars.”

    Those of us who are thrilled to follow House’s journey of discovery as it proceeds through this new turn in the road will continue to watch. The bellyachers and grousers will find something new to watch or learn to rhumba with DWTS.

  • Tara

    @Mike: Great post. I agree wholeheartedly with you

  • Leodie

    Brave of you to tackle this issue Barbara and a good idea too since it’s drawing lots of different opinions here.

    I don’t think it is just Huddy that started the audience decline. The changes probably begun in season four when the show started becoming more of a character study than it already was, another step was taken when House decided to tentatively start its journey toward happyland in season 6. I think the fans who were here for the procedural and the caustic maverick tagged along for a while then slowly started to lose interest.

    Although it was nice knowing that House was such a popular show, I don’t mind it getting less popular as long as it stays on the air. There are a lot of nice shows out there that I enjoy watching once in a while (NCIS for instance that I’m watching as I write, which would never happen with House), I can see the recipes that make them enjoyable and popular, but good shows is not what I want to watch. I want great shows that are not afraid to drop the recipes, venture into the wild and brave “moonlight” curses. Bring it on I am game for that ride.

    The only thing I am worried about is for TPTB and the best writers, to lose their edge, their interest, or leave the show for other shinier projects now that the show is getting “old”. What do you think Barbara, is Doris Egan’s departure the first trumpet of the apocalypse?

  • Blacktop and Leodie, thanks for your kind words (and Maya and everyone else). Leodie, I think you’re correct. People who came looking for a procedural medical mystery show became disappointed long ago (and maybe hung on for awhile after that). I came to the show in season one fascinated by the character–and that’s why I watch. Funnily enough, I devour British mystery series (can’t get enough of them). But I don’t read them for the cases, I read them because I’ve become hooked on Tony Hill or William Monk or whomever. I watch House the same way.

    I don’t need the validation of House being a ratings killer blockbuster (I’ve never before followed a series with this sort of rating), just good, entertaining, thought provoking characters and stories.

  • ruthinor

    I really don’t understand this NCIS vs. House. I happen to really like both shows, and for pretty much the same reasons. I enjoy the characters in each show, especially since they replaced a rather boring character (Kate) with a much more interesting one (Ziva) in NCIS. Of course this is only my opinion. Both shows have been on the air for a long time now. While NCIS is no doubt thought of as more simplistic than House, if you have watched the show from the start, you would realize that it is often more complicated than one would suspect from casual viewing. The same is true for House. Casual viewers do not get the full impact of the show.

    Frequently we (myself included) confuse a character we don’t like with bad acting. I never liked Cameron, and I think this caused me to dislike Jennifer Morrison. I’d say that Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson are feeling the brunt of that now. Many people don’t like their characters, and thus don’t like the actors. Anyone who has seen Jacobson in Law and Order as a pull out the stops lawyer would understand that he is a fine actor.

    To my mind, House is not a medical drama, just as it would not be a legal drama if House was a lawyer. The show is about House. This includes his profession and his interactions with those in his orbit. I don’t think any show would be that interesting if the characters were to remain static. That’s not real life. People and circumstances change. I have never understood the criticism that the early seasons were so much better because the medicine was foremost. What about Stacy, and Vogler and Tritter? What about Cameron and Chase? All of those “soap operas” were in the early seasons. I’ve watched House from the start, and I have the DVDs as well. I don’t think any one season stands out as being better than the rest. Every season had good and not so good episodes. Many people tend to judge based on whether or not their favorite character was front and center. We should recognize our own biases.

  • Smoky

    Can I just take a minute to praise #35 Flo (Hysterical Clapping)!!!

    Right on the head! Which is why I gotta back up my girl Barbara’s “Go with the flow” comment which “the sky is falling fans” have decided to bash her over the head with haha. Barbara…how is your head btw lol!?

    The fact is most people who are loyal viewers of a show and have stuck around for 7 years are “go with flow” viewers. If you weren’t, you would not be here talking about the show or how you hated the last two episodes. Frankly, you’re still watching…so POINT for Fox and TPTB.

    IMO it is possible to be a shipper and go with the flow. I do like the Huddy pairing, I am curious to see how they try to make it work, and I can’t wait to see how House crashes and burns it by May! And at the same time…when season 8 starts(w/o a Huddy relationship most likely)I will still be watching.

    IDK, I just feel a little loyalty is needed here. These writers/producers have giving me so much joy over the last 6 years regardless if liked a particular storyline or not. I think we should all give them more then 2 freaking episodes before we call the season and series dead.

  • Hey Smoky, My head is just fine (If I couldn’t take the heat, I wouldn’t be a writer–and actually publish my writing).

    Loving this debate, btw!

  • Mike

    To ICU: Did you actually read what I wrote? How are your comprehension skills? Your post to me is as arrogant as it is ridiculous. You are essentially accusing me of being a liar. Is that the best you can do? You don’t like what I wrote? That’s fine, but don’t make up crap about me because you want to label me in order to dismiss my comments. I made it very clear that I was stating my opinion about the show; you made it very clear that you were stating YOUR opinion of ME as a FACT. Let’s hope TPTB at House aren’t as foolish to dismiss all viewers who aren’t squeeing over Huddy. As incredible as it is for you to believe, there are actually quite a number of us who don’t have a ship to sail. And THAT is a fact.

  • madfashionista

    From what I’m told, Doris Egan left for what’s called “an overall deal,” i.e. a deal to develop her own multiple projects, which she is doing. She’s written for a bunch of shows, including my favorite seasons of “Smallville.” I lost interest in that show when Lex Luthor left.

    Doris departing House was show business as usual, and I don’t think there is a deeper meaning. She did her best and worked HARD before the season premiere (according to her tweets). I’m sorry the prime Hilson on the writing staff left, but thinking she deliberately wrote a bad episode/left in disgust/they screwed up her script deliberately is incorrect. Sorry if this is OT, but some of the tweets I’ve read are downright ridiculous.

  • Sandy

    I’m really enjoying this season. I DVR it every week and also record DWTS. I watch House live then watch DWTS from the beginning, fast forwarding my way through the commercials. I also find myself watching House one more time. I’m in Arizona so it’s on at 7:00 here so plenty of time to watch it twice.

    House finished second behind DWTS in it’s premier. Not shabby at all. I like the House/Cuddy relationship and am looking forward to seeing how it progresses this season.

  • Flo

    @madfashionista (#50) Some people really said that??? Wow! That’s ridiculous indeed.
    I guess I was really right about some people incapable to be respectful when they don’t like a particular thing. Seriously, that’s shocking to read this. I think it’s good you say that here, I’m on Twitter (I’m wellwellwelles actually, one your followers 🙂 ) and I didn’t know that.

    Hi @Smoky, thank you for the kind words. 🙂

    @maya (#41) I agree with you that it’s not because you like a ship that you can’t be totally “objective” (as objective as you can) but favoring a ship more than another or a character over another does make you biased. However like I said, real objectivity doesn’t exist and Barbara wrote about many different aspects and characters of the show so I don’t see what the problem is with her reviews.
    She really is not as biased as people might think, otherwise, as a non-shipper who doesn’t make fav, I wouldn’t post here.

  • Val S

    I was debating whether (and how) to step into this discussion, but after Jay’s comment(#26), I had to breathe a sigh of relief: someone got my take on this thing. I agree.

    One additional thought, rather than each season being a clean slate, I look at it as another chapter in a novel. Each chapter is different, focuses on different characters, and can be written in various ways. When House episodes go “off-formula”, we usually learn something more in-depth and directly about House himself. From the very beginning there were episodes that were non-formulaic and they’ve continued until today.(i.e. from Three Stories and No Reason to Broken and,yes, Now What?). Episodes like these enrich House’s character and reveal–as Shore and Co like to say–more about him. Some have had strong ratings, others have not.

    Ok, some do not like the direction this story is taking and will move on–that’s fine. The lovely TV ratings system will take note of it–that’s also fine. I will just say that I have enjoyed a fascinating character through his work: medical cases and clinic; his interactions with people: patients and the fellows(both the ones I like and didn’t like); and his relationships: Stacy, Cameron, Wilson and Cuddy.

    And, as always Barbara, I enjoy your articles and find them to be as objective as any other review in print or online. Also have throughly enjoyed your book and am now in the midst of re-viewing the seasons with your episode guide…lots of fun 🙂 I am glad that there is a space where we can (mostly) avoid the pitfalls of other online communities.

  • m.m.

    Because ‘NCIS’ raised its numbers even while airing against ‘Dancing…’ doesn’t mean that ‘House’ or any other show would, all it means is it’s possible which was never a question. It also doesn’t mean that ‘Dancing’ isn’t hurting the numbers because it didn’t hurt ‘NCIS.’ ‘Dancing’ does seem to be what’s hurting the numbers right now because this season and last when it aired against ‘House’ the numbers went to the 10-9 million mark. Also Huddy doesn’t really seem to be a factor either. If Huddy were a major theme in the episodes that dropped to the 10-9 mil range, then it would make it seem quite plausible that maybe it’s still putting the numbers in that range. But it wasn’t a major theme at all. In fact, it was almost non-existent in those episodes and yet the numbers still were hovering at the same place.

    ‘Dancing’ is the one common factor. Regarding House’s numbers last season ALL of the episodes in the 10-9 million range except for the finale (which went back up to 11.064 mil viewers and actually was advertised as being largely about House and Cuddy in press and in the promos) were episodes that went up against ‘Dancing’ which started in March. The only episodes ‘House’ aired in March were “Private Lives” which had 12.815 mil. viewers and “Black Hole” which had 11.367 mil. viewers. Neither of these episodes aired against ‘Dancing’ because it didn’t start until March 22. These episodes:

    “Lockdown” 10.799 mil viewers (Airdate: 4-12-2010)

    “Knight Fall” 10.815 mil viewers (Airdate: 4-19-2010)

    “Open and Shut” 10.62 mil viewers (Airdate: 4-26-2010)

    “The Choice” 9.982 mil viewers (Airdate: 5-3-2010)

    “Baggage” 9.477 mil viewers (Airdate: 5-10-2010)

    all aired against ‘Dancing’ and all went down in numbers.

    Huddy putting the numbers in the 10 mil mark (and not ‘Dancing’) could be honestly argued if both (‘Dancing’ and Huddy) were present and/or Huddy was at least advertised as being there during those episodes. But they barely even interacted (and even when they did it wasn’t always shippy) and weren’t advertised as interacting.

    In “Lockdown” House and Cuddy didn’t have a single scene together.

    In “Knight Fall” House and Cuddy had one scene together, where he comes to ask her to break Wilson and Sam up.

    In “Open and Shut” House and Cuddy had two scenes together: one with 13 in the room as well talking about work, and one that had shippy overtones with the espresso machine.

    In “The Choice” House and Cuddy had two scenes together: one at the beginning when he entered the hospital and she expressed concern for him falling off the wagon and one at the end which was shippy.

    In “Baggage” House and Cuddy have one scene together where they interact about a patient and two where they don’t (during the therapy session) but they are technically in the same room and neither of those scenes were shippy.

    I don’t recall any promos mentioning Huddy as a relationship or showing their scenes together. I don’t remember if the sneak peeks did. And the promo pics for the episodes showed POTW’s, and House, lots of House and Wilson for “Knight Fall” and “Open and Shut,” House, patient, Chase and Foreman for “The Choice,” House, patient, Wilson and Cuddy for “Baggage” and House and Cuddy mainly for “Help Me.” Though I believe these have little weight except with online fans. The promos matter more. Going from all of this and looking at the numbers then and now hovering in the same range, the only common factor is ‘Dancing.’

  • nice analysis m.m. Thanks.

  • Janine

    reruns also play a big factor in the ratings. I know a lot of people who love House but watch DWTS or Chuck because they know House will reair a week later on USA, and if they miss that the show will reair eventually because house is on literally 100 times a week (there have been times when two episodes were on different channels at teh same time). Why would someone rush through what their doing just to watch something that will be on again in a week (in fact, Selfish is reairing tonight on FOX, but that may just be because FOX needed to find something to temporarily fill the spot with all the shows moving around in the aftermath of Lone Star’s cancellation). It’s the Law and Order syndrome, nobody watches lives because “it will be on again” but then they all get upset when teh show goes off the air.
    Either way thought, House is no where near in danger of being cancelled. It’s still FOX’s number one drama and Number two show overall behind the artocity that is Glee (no offense to fans but I can’t stand that show) and at this point FOX needs all the hits it can get since Idol is dying and the new judges are not helping. Besides plenty of shows on fox average less viewers than House in these last two weeks (I think last season Bones only averaged 8 or 9 million) and stick around and 10 million viewers per episode in a seventh season is still pretty good. I don’t think FOX will cancell this show, but I belive the rating may factor into when the writers decide to end. If this tred continues, the show will probably make season 8 its last (as that is the year the contract with HL and the network expire) but I’m ok with that. I’d rather this show go out with a bang while enough people are still interested than hang around forever and have no one care when the finale airs (example: ER).

  • Bobo

    Holy Crap m.m.!!! That was amazing! Thanks for doing the homework! I had a smile like the whole freaking time reading that. Thoughtful and with facts to back it up…Fo’ Sho’!

    If people want to argue the writing being bad, or production and directing going down hill…well, ok. And why we’re at it let’s argue Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio! It’s all relative to why you were watching the show in the first place!

    However, simply blaming Huddy IS over simplistic, like Barbara pointed out. And m.m.’s homework also helps shine some light on other factors, DWTS being a HUGE one.

  • I’ll be doing an interview week after next with a ratings guru from TV by the Numbers to explain the ratings nuances, influences, what it all means (or doesn’t). A perfect interview to do right before November sweeps.

  • tanya

    i just want to added my coment, it is a shame that this season are low ratings, i think that this season seem to be one of the house’s best season especially for the huddy relation ship of course, but also with the new interesting cases too, i think that in major part house is coming back to the basic and that is good, and i love huddy relation ship is so special

  • Mike

    Regarding reruns, House is the only show that is not available the next day online. Chuck, DWTS, HIMYM – they can all be seen the next day. House doesn’t repeat for more than a week. For that reason, it would seem as if House would be the best choice to watch live if there were any conflicts. Of course, the DVR ratings also count in the ratings for up to one week, which helps House’s ratings, as it does others as well.

    I’d also like to point out that DWTS was airing last fall when House drew 16+ million for the premiere, and the following week when House drew almost 15 million, and 13 million the week after that. It’s not like last spring was the first time House has gone up against DWTS. The big difference is that House lost more than 5 million viewers from last September’s premiere to this September’s premiere, even though it was up against the same shows. I don’t think for one moment that Fox would consider ending the series, but it should be a concern to their sponsors, especially if they were expecting big premiere numbers.

    I’m going to withdraw from this discussion now. I wouldn’t want to add to the “miasma of putrid and prejudiced rantings about ratings.”

  • DebbieLegion

    Well I can sa that people over the world watch House when the local networks shows it, and also the same day that a new episode is showing in the US.
    In fact, most people I know around the world, likes tha fact that Cameron is not there anymore, and people who is not a loyal fan is watching it and liking the new season, so u can’t trust numbers, Imean ratings don’t show the real audience

  • Maria

    Mike: How can you even compare last season’s premiere to this one? It lasted two hours, House was in a completely different setting, the rest of the cast wasn’t there… It was like nothing they had ever done before. And it was probably easy for people to just tune in for “Broken”, which they seem to have done, judging by the number of viewers you posted. The ratings for each episode were worse than the ratings for the previous episode. Did all the people who stopped watching then know that the first two episodes of the 7th season would focus on Huddy and decided to stop watching? I don’t think so… Did they stop watching only because they liked Huddy and it was nowhere to be seen? Again, I don’t think so.

    I don’t even understand what all the fuss is about. House is drawing the same numbers it drew last year, it’s not like it suddenly lost half it’s viewers or something. I don’t live in the US and I only started lurking in the fandom last year, but it is my understanding that House did badly at first, started doing great when it aired after AI, then it was moved and it has been declining ever since, although I may be wrong. I don’t know why that is. If it is because it took viewers 3 years to realise that it’s a character study, the joke’s on them. If it is because people’s idea of a character is “Italian hot guy who sleeps around” or “Police tuff guy who often punches walls”, again, the joke’s on them. If it is because Cameron left, how come nobody realised how loved she is? How come all she did was play a part in a play that didn’t do well and guest star on HIMYM? And don’t even get me started on the show sucks because it’s House and not the “Greg and Jimmy have hot buttsecks” hour.

    For me it’s more possible that it’s most of these things combined, together with the fact that it’s in its 7th freaking season and it airs opposite DWTS. And of course because the show’s quality *did* decline over the years, I’m not denying that. I mean, I love Huddy, but God knows they could have done it better. I also love Cuddy and I wish TPTB liked her (and women in general), too. They could also pay more attention to details, like editing, continuity, House’s leg… Sometimes I get the feeling that they are really pleased with themselves and how ~awesome~ the show is and it comes off in a bad way… And probably other things that I can’t think of, because I really need to go to sleep.

  • TK

    You’re right that the ratings haven’t gone down that much since the end of last season. But by the end of season 6, Team Coke Zero was firmly in place, Cameron was long gone, Wilson was doing little more than telling House he should be with Cuddy and for two seasons every stray character had been telling House he should be with Cuddy. It’s not just Huddy, it’s the overall writing and casting for the show. House on ibuprofen and Nolan saying that loving Cuddy would help his pain was just ridiculous even to those who don’t have chronic pain. So is the way they have written Thirteen’s Huntington’s.

    David Shore may be willing to take risks but the thing about risks is that they’re risky because they don’t always work. If you want to compare ratings, compare season 7 to season 3 before he changed the course of the show.

    A sonnet has a formula. So has a symphony, and yet people have been using those formulas and producing great works for centuries. Delia_Beatrice applauded the House producers for being better than the NCIS ones and not sticking to the formula. (Not everyone agrees with her since NCIS, a year older show, has twice the audience of House and it’s increasing while House’s is steadily declining.) I take it she didn’t see the last episode of NCIS which took the formula, twisted it a bit and made it fresh, new and very enjoyable. Grey’s Anatomy is another older show that has kept most of its audience.

    I think the character of House should have been kept single through the course of the show. David Shore said he doesn’t know how to write relationships and he’s proved that over and over with Chase/Cameron (Dead Husband’s Sperm was too ridiculous for even The Simpsons), Foreman/Thirteen (most boring relationship even) and now with House/Cuddy. The only relationship on this show I thought was realistically written was Wilson/Amber but that was over in 4 episodes. Sherlock Holmes was never in a relationship, not even with Irene Adler whose brains he admired rather than her femininity. Shore should have followed Conan Doyle in that respect.

    It’s probably too late to fix the show now but Shore, Jacobs and Laurie have made their money so they’ll do okay.

  • teenie

    The problem with Huddy is that they are not doing it right and haven’t been since season 3 when they started to retcon not only the show’s canon but what we saw in the episodes of season 1. A low point in terms of realism was House’s psychiatrist telling him that love of Cuddy would cure his pain. Huh? That’s fairy tale territory. And if they were going to do a House/Cuddy relationship, I wish they had left it as two adults who fall in love after a working and supportive friendship rather than two adult children setting off smoke bombs and trips wires at work. Cuddy’s back-story of a 20 year crush on a guy who didn’t call after a ONS didn’t do her any favors either.

    On the subject of ratings, they first began to go down in season four after the writers strike and never went back up. Whether it’s because of the strike or because that’s when the audience got to see what the new team worked like we don’t know. They continued to go down bit by bit through the next 3 seasons although there were bumps up such as when Amber came back or Hugh Laurie’s tour de force performance in ‘Broken’. Last season’s ratings on average weren’t much better than now but then the soap opera on the show has taken over the medical aspects since season 5, although I suspect finding out that House can’t deliver the audience to Lone Star was a shock to Fox.

    I think the show could have survived Rotating Cast Syndrome if they had done it the way MASH did, which is to deliberately bring in very different characters as replacements, and if the old characters weren’t so much more popular than the new ones. Instead of Thirteen and Taub, who are just variations of Foreman with a dash of the fungible pretty girl for 13, and Kutner who was Chase V2, I would have liked to see Amber or the Mormon or the old guy just to bring something new to the show.

  • ann uk

    I think that one of the things that critics of the House/Cuddy relationship (I REFUSE to call it Huddy )overlook is that Cuddy herself is a complex character who has been developing over the years. She is actually like House in many ways – devoted to her profession, highly intelligent and almost as evasive and contradictory as House.This is an adult relationship between two complex characters and I really can’t imagine where it will go next.
    One of the great achievments of HOUSE is that, all the characters have been developing around House himself.For instance ,I, like one of your correspondents, disliked Taub at first , but watching him struggle with his urge

    nt urges and finding out that he started as a brilliant , idealistic young doctor has won me over and,incidentally, how can a series that included the riveting “Lockdown” be written off as a failure? Shows like NCIS, the Mentalist CSI, etc. would be lucky to have such “failures”.

  • Linda

    @#22, Jonathan: I don’t know where you are getting your ratings information, but both episodes were over 10 million viewers, not counting DVR viewings. This is solid and would never lead to a show’s cancellation, tenure or not.

  • Hyacinth

    Maria, why *wouldn’t* Mike or anyone else compare last year’s premiere ratings with this one? Isn’t that what everyone is talking about here? Ratings, and possible explanations for the drop, right? Frankly, I think it is a great example. Last year’s premiere was clearly about House’s struggle to find himself in a mental institution. (I’m oversimplifying, but we all know what it was about.) “Broken” was heavily promoted as being an episode about House in a mental institution; people could choose to tune in depending on whether they had an interest in seeing an episode that was only about House. I was interested and tuned in. Compare that to this season’s premiere promotion. Who was in it? House and Cuddy. What was the focus? House and Cuddy. How did they choose to promote House and Cuddy? With sex, lots of steamy sex with House and Cuddy, and Lisa Edelstein’s remarks about her nudity in nearly every interview. Considering that viewers had the exact same choices of shows in the exact same time slot as the year before, wouldn’t it seem logical that many people tuned out based on those promos? I certainly tuned out. I have zero interest in a fan-fictionalized version of House. For me, “Huddy” is as seriously air-brushed as their TV Guide photo shoot. That’s just my opinion, though. I can only speak for myself.

  • susan

    One of the comments was that “House” doesn’t get as much publicity as it used to, but in just two weeks we had House and Cuddy on the cover of TV Guide and a small, but positive, review in the New York Times by TV critic Ginia Bellafante:

    “I love you. I wish I didn’t. But I can’t help it.” With those words, Lisa Cuddy, played by Lisa Edelstein, finished last season’s run of “HOUSE,” Fox’s popular medical drama, and fulfilled the wishes of millions of viewers who were at the end of their ropes with the years of sexually charged banter between the doctors Cuddy and House (Hugh Laurie) and no action. (Unless, of course, we count the hallucinatory sex in the fifth-season finale.) The new and seventh season, which starts on Monday night at 8 picks up where we left off, with House and Cuddy officially signed on to be more than colleagues and sparring partners. But will the magic be over? Do we really want to see them, in love, on the beach, bickering over what to have for dinner? Lame and sappy as it is to admit, we do.

    To paraphrase Cuddy – I think we’ll be alright.

  • bluehue

    Off-topic FYI: Just recently the PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley spoke the word “Huddy” directly to a smiling Hugh Laurie during an interview..so by now, the nickname is seemingly acceptable. Those who may use it are not lesser intelligent, oblivious or sacrilegious, (not that annuk implied such). Yes, I wonder if “Willy the Shake” would mind if we coined “Romiet”.

    Very interesting comments all the way thru here, impassioned fans on “both sides of the aisle” so to speak. Ra Ra!! Pursuing an aesthetics based career, I’m always amazed at those capable of factual analysis. (Political reference: maybe we should solicit Nate Silver to crunch the (H)ouse numbers, a genius with these sorts of things, ratings, polls, graphs).

    I dare to encourage a bit of cautious “optimisim,” to be patient (not of the “weak”) as this new House/Cuddy story arc unfolds. We’ve been alerted that it will be a bumpy ride. For those sports fans commenting…someone refered to their husband as an average viewer, now disgruntled…well, you don’t throw in the towel when your team falters, you hang in..or at least keep an eye on what may happen and may be pleasantly surprised at some twist or turn of events.

    Also, the preseason advertising was designed around a concept..that of showing House in this particular condiiton..a condition called “love,” which presents as many unpredictable symptoms & mysterious side effects as any medical case study or disease. In fact, the British scientist Richard P. Bentall writes, proposes that “happiness” (a possible side effect of love) can be classified as a psychiatric disorder…affecting ones ability to be analytical. Hmmmmm.

    Also, for fans who say they don’t like a “neutered” House remember LE IS a dog-cat advocate, so perhaps merely a sublinimal way of suggesting to spay & neuter your own “house” pet..they tend to live a longer..healthier life afterwards, so not all bad.

    P.S. I read along..but don’t comment often b/c BB says it all with style and verve..a singer of jazz..who knew?! That’s so very cool..& just happy to bring a smile way back there, thanks for a blue note. LOL.

  • DebbieJ

    @Kelsey #1 “but I feel that people sort of tuned out last season towards the end because the middle of the season had been such a let down (my humble opinion). I feel as though the episodes were kind of chaotic, lacked substantial plot and felt kind of boring which I think I can assume was a thought shared by the general public.”

    I blame this on Fox. With all the long breaks in between episodes, it was difficult to see and feel the continuity of the narrative. When I watched the episodes in succession on DVD, I saw and felt the cohesiveness of the journey that House was on last year.

    In regards to the ratings, I don’t take too much stock in them for the reasons Barbara mentioned. They don’t take into account people tuning in later to watch it without those blasted frequent commercial breaks (me included). Nor do they take into account people who view it on other forums, such as online or on demand. And, this I’m not sure of, but don’t the ratings only include those watching (“live”) here in the States? Do they count the millions of viewers world wide who watch this show? After all, it was reported last year to be the most watched television show in the world! So, like I said, I don’t pay too much attention to the rating numbers.

  • Leodie

    Barbara #45 That’s exactly the way I watched the X files. Didn’t give a d… about aliens and science-fiction, don’t care for scary shows, and special effects usually bore me to tears (and guess how the explanation about special effects in the dvd bonus makes me feel ?). Yet, although it took me quite a while to really get into it, it is the only other show (besides House) that had me climbing up the curtains in expectation before each new episode (until season seven that is). All this because of the mysteries, the plots and above all Mulder and Scully characters. Subtle plot and characterization is my thing, so is the romantic aspect of the main characters personality let’s face it. It is even better with House, since I am more interested in medicine than in aliens and House’s sense of humor just cracks me up.

    Teenie #64 I don’t remember Nolan telling House to “go get Cuddy”, he just made him acknowledge that his relationship with Cuddy (or lack of thereof) was the biggest rock in his shoe at this point and judging by House’s violent reaction he was probably right on target. Then, the way I understand it, the answer to Nolan’s question in episode 6×21 “what did you screw up ?” is not his relationship with Cuddy but as we learn in 6×22 “Help me”, the fact he didn’t amputate his leg years before.

    Ruthinor #46 Yes the “soap” has always been there, but not as present as it is now. As I have said before, it is easy to understand when comparing two episodes from seasons 3 and 7: “Family” 3×19 and “Selfish” 7×2. Both have similar plots. A family has two kids, one with a life threatening disease (leukemia in “Family” and muscular dystrophy in “Selfish”) the over one is sane. At some point in the episode, the “sane” kid becomes very sick and their parents have to choose between scarifying a kid to maybe save the other or risk losing them both. They refuse to sacrify their kid but thankfully House saves the day and everyone is (almost) happy ever after. In “Family”, the soap was about Foreman struggling not to become “as bad as” House and apparently failing in the end, it was there but not prominent. In “selfish” the soap has House and Cuddy struggling with their fledgling relationship and it’s all over the place. The soap has become the backbone of the episode and it takes up more screen time, not letting enough room for the procedural to become really compelling. Good thing I like how the soap is dealt with or I would have fled the show like apparently some have been doing lately. It’s been a while till I said to myself, geez I wonder what’s really wrong with that patient, what happens next ? on House.

  • DebbieJ.

    @jonathan #22 – How could RATINGS MEAN EVERYTHING and [H]ouse only being saved from cancellation because it has “tenure” on the network? It can’t go both ways.

    As for those who think the show is going to hell in a handbasket because of Huddy, well, we obviously view this show through much different lenses. This show was never the ratings powerhouse it is (or was) because it was a procedural. This show is through and through a character study of one of the most complex characters ever written for televsion, disguised as a procedural.

    I couldn’t care less if the writers paired House with Nurse Jeffrey. If that is what they felt was the best course to go for this incredible character, so be it. They chose to go with him trying to have an adult relationship with Cuddy, which only seems logical as it was hinted at for the first 6 seasons. And, like Barbara, I’m going with the flow. Should they have gone down the House/Cameron route, I would still be watching and applaud the show as a whole, because it would still have meant some sort of growth and character study for the character (House). If they had gone down the House/Wilson route (although we know that would be impossible on a network series), I would still be watching with bated breath, because, it still would have meant some sort of growth and character development for House.

    In short, I watch this incredible show for it’s incredible titled character. This character is JS & DS’s child and I am enjoying how they have developed him. I will watch til the very end simply because I am vested in House’s journey.

  • DebbieJ.

    @Sue #28 – I agree that I was annoyed when they put secondary characters front and center during story arcs, such as 13 and all her sexual orientation and illness issues; Taub’s marriage etc. I started to like 13 (and in turn Olivia’s portrayal of her), once they put her back where she belonged, as a secondary character. One thing I noticed is that her scenes with House seem to be the most interesting and potent amongst the fellows since she is the only female that interacts with House that never was/is romantically interested in him.

    Regarding the decline in posts on the Fox boards. I have to admit I stopped reading them and posting there once they changed the format. It is very archaic and I find it very difficult to follow. That maybe the reason for the decline. Perhaps a lot of other fans felt the same way.

  • TK

    @Leodie 71 – Nolan said that House identified with Sydney’s husband and his desperation to hang on to the woman he loved so yeah, it is all about Cuddy for House. He didn’t care that Wilson was moving on. For those of us who don’t buy that Cuddy is the love of House’s life, it’s just more to be annoyed about. We were told repeatedly in seasons 1 & 2 that Stacy was the love of House’s life and I say that as a person who didn’t like Stacy or their relationship. Now the show is selling that it’s been Cuddy all along.

    I think House (the show) built up a huge amount of audience and fan good will in the first three seasons when it was still primarily a medical procedural, Wilson was House’s “only friend”, and confidant, the team was Chase, Cameron and Foreman, House was teased with four ships (Stacy, Cameron, Wilson and Cuddy) with only Stacy, and Cuddy was House’s boss and flirting partner but not his love interest.

    Since then the decisions by Shore and Jacobs (most notably to get rid of Cameron and Chase and replace them with Thirteen and Taub, make Cuddy House’s sole love interest, move away from the medical/ethical aspects into soap opera, and repeatedly re-write the show’s canon) have been gradually chipping away at the audience until it has fallen to just over half of what it was before. For each new person who falls in love with the show now, three old-timers have tuned out.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox announced in the spring that season 8 will be the last.

  • TK

    dropped a word — with only Stacy as canon (in terms of House’s love interest)

  • TK–I don’t see how you make that inference. Nolan was only concerned about why House allowed himself to get beat up (knowingly). It has nothing to do with his overall pain. No one said that Stacy isn’t House’s one true love (and maybe always will be). But therapy has perhaps FINALLY allowed him to move on (which has been a theme for the last few years culminating in Broken). You can have a true love, lose that love and be able to move on (maybe even not without regrets). No one is negating Stacy.

    As far as I know they have not re-written House canon. They’ve screwed up the timeline from time to time, but canon? How?

    Chase is still there (and I’ve loved him more and more since season five). I’m even enjoying Foreman more. I actually will miss 13 (I hated all the foreman-13 stuff and said it several times right here). I like Taub’s dryness and cynicism. YMMV, I guess.

  • DebbieJ.

    Regarding comments that say the show is not what it used to be. Well, of course it isn’t. Nothing stays the same, nor should it. It needs to grow and grow old.

    Now that House is in its “golden age” (God, but is Hollywood fickle! You’re not in the popular demographic if you are aging, whether you are a performer or in this case, a tv series! And I can’t believe [H]ouse is considered old entering its 7th year!), it cannot possibly stay the same like it was is season 3. Who would want to see a title character not grow? He is capable of growing without changing who he is, the sarcastic, acerbic misanthrope we all love. But the character and the show NEED to grow. He’s still on a journey. We’re only two episodes in, so let’s see where the chips may fall.

    Because [H]ouse is not an ensemble series, say, like ER was, but is centered on one specific character, the changes MUST be made within the character instead of new characters coming and going (like ER).

    If he never sought for change and reveled in his misery, I would have lost interest long ago.

  • Andrea

    It’s an aging show, so I think that has some impact on the ratings, though the ratings are actually up a bit from last May, if I’m right. Personally, I started to lose interest in it during the last couple of seasons because I felt they got sidetracked. I’ve never taken to the new team the way I did to the old one. I didn’t like what they did with Cameron or turning Chase into a murderer. They don’t get enough screen time compared to the first seasons. They made House SO nasty in recent years that I think a lot of people were thoroughly turned off. My dad has been a big fan and now can take it or leave it. This past season I wasn’t happy when they put Cuddy with Lucas, whom I found obnoxious.

    I watch this show for the core relationships more than the medical mystery and for me that is House and Wilson and House and Cuddy and House, Cuddy and Wilson and secondarily, Chase, Cameron and Foreman in different combinations. I was really happy to see Cuddy and House finally put together and I’m hoping against hope that they don’t screw that relationship up. House is a romantic and a monogamist. He does not want to break up with Cuddy or lose that relationship, even though he’s terrified of it and already anticipating it in the previews for the next episode. When he thinks about it, it’s always with the assumption that CUDDY will dump HIM, not that he will find a reason to dump Cuddy. If they ever show me his greatest fear coming true and Cuddy hurting him like she swore she wouldn’t, I’m probably done with this show. Right now they’ve got my attention again. I’m one of the people who came back to watching regularly because they put House and Cuddy together. I’m even watching it a second time online after watching it live during the first run.

  • SeraG

    Hello Barbara and all,
    Maybe I am in a contentious mood, but this article really depressed me. Yes, it is disappointing that House didn’t do better in the ratings so far, but I don’t understand all the negativity.
    All the reviews that I have read have been very enthusiastic. The writers and cast have done a great job balancing the joy that House feels with his anxiety that something bad will happen.
    I have waited 6 years to see House/Cuddy together. I want to enjoy this part of the relationship. I don’t want to think about a breakup or either of them causing the other misery. The love affair has just begun and I for one think it is funny, touching, real and long overdue.
    As to the ratings, I agree so much with what has been said;
    *DWTS is a huge hit. (For the life of me, I can’t see why.)
    *Hardly anyone watches TV the same way anymore. Most of my friends DVR House and then watch it either Tuesday or Wednesday. Others watch online the following week. Some go through iTunes. I think the ratings system will have to go throught some serious revamping.
    *I hope that FOX is smart enough to appreciate the quality program that is House and is aware of the huge (worldwide) and enthusiatic fanbase. It is a good thing, however that House didn’t premiere in this climate, as it would never have made it to the 6th or 7th episode to follow AI and become the phenomenon it is.
    Thanks to Andrea #78. I think the relationship will bring many viewers back to the show, out of curiosity if nothing else. When they see that there is a fresh spark, I think they will be pleased and stay with it. As Barbara stated on an earlier post, it has rebooted the show and taken House on another leg of his journey.
    I respect that we all have an opinion and the right to express it, however it seems that the focus has gone from exploring, enjoying, analyzing the current season to rehashing the past. I have enjoyed each season for the great writing, humor, amazing characterizations and the surpises that they bring.
    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

  • Jay

    “I respect that we all have an opinion and the right to express it, however it seems that the focus has gone from exploring, enjoying, analyzing the current season to rehashing the past.”

    Thank you for saying this SeraG. You echoed my thoughts exactly.

  • Susan

    I totally agree with Sera G. in what she just wrote:
    have waited 6 years to see House/Cuddy together. I want to enjoy this part of the relationship. I don’t want to think about a breakup or either of them causing the other misery. The love affair has just begun and I for one think it is funny, touching, real and long overdue.

  • Eileen

    I, too, agree with SeraG’s comments. I personally know many people who had lost interest in this show over season 6 and are now enjoying watching it during season 7. My husband is one of those people. He is very picky about the few shows he watches and is currently very happy with the turn the show has taken this season. I have yet to hear any negative comments from people I know who watch the show. So, I am looking forward to seeing how House’s being in love and feeling that love returned to him will “grow” his character.

  • SeraG

    Hello, Barbara and all,
    Thanks, Jay#80,Susan#81, and Eileen #82 for the feedback. I am glad that I am not alone in these feelings.
    Can’t wait for Monday night. I’ll check back in with you then.
    Thanks, again, Barbara for this safe place to express our feelings.

  • Andrea

    I’m hoping against hope that they won’t break House and Cuddy up, though their track record isn’t great with these things, judging by Cameron and Chase or even Foreman and Thirteen and the oft quoted sentiment that House will always be miserable. Maybe they’ll surprise us and House and Cuddy will be the end game, since most people will expect them to have House screw it up and Cuddy to take revenge by canceling the hospital’s cable.

  • Joe

    I have been a fan of House since the beginning. What originally attracted me to the show was the “I can do anything”, “I do what I want”, “I’m always right” attitude of the House character. The drugs, the wit, the mystery, the solving of the case – all of the Sherlock Holmes elements are what made the show.

    This whole character development of House as a fragile genious that needs to go to rehab in a psych ward to “get in touch with his feelings” and now this Cuddy thing is out of control and demonstrates the show’s creators and writers inability to carry on with what they started that was so uniqiue to US television.

    The only way to save the show now is to bring Cameron back so that she and House can have a torrid affair and when they get caught, they can just say, “we do what we want, get over it”. This will alienate all of the characters. Then maybe the creators and writers can get over their fascination with turning Sherlock Holmes into a common soap opera.

  • susan

    How can I enjoy the show with SO MANY COMMERCIALS? (Just saw the Amy Irving episode). Liked the “Never again” comment during the go cart race.

  • Janine

    don’t think the ratings are bad. Last night (Unwirtten) got 10.5 million viewers and a 3.9 rating in the key demo, making it the number 1 drama of its slot and number 2 only behind DWTS so looks like the ratings aren’t in trouble

  • just4paws17

    Barbara, another great rant it is! I just love the way they are doing the H/C thing. I love the banter and I too just go with the flow. I thought the first 3 eps of s7 have been Classic House! I’ll wait till your review is up to comment more! Love it!

  • Mike

    Janine, there are no other dramas in House’s time slot, unless you count the CW’s 90210. Chuck is an “action-comedy” show. If House can’t beat 90210, the world as we know it is coming to an end. Let’s not forget that the show should have gotten a decent bump from the TV Guide cover story.

  • Riley

    Mike– Hey dude how about let’s be happy for our show and stop downplaying everyone’s facts and happy thoughts!

    You’re right…House is the only real drama at the 8pm time slot. However, House was number 5 for the night in 18-49 demo and second in its time slot again! That is GREAT and should not be downplayed by saying it was b/c of a tv guide cover…really dude, that’s your argument? Moreover, after DVR ratings were again calculated this evening, House’s rating went from a 10.5 3.9/18-49 to 10.77 4.0/18-49! Again, more proof that people are more than likely DVR’ing House and watching DWTS live so not to miss a “live” TV event. After the recalculation House shot to number 3 in the 18-49 demo! And only 3 shows had a 4.0 or above rating…DWTS, House, and Two in a Half Men.

    House is actually the only show of the night, and in it’s 3rd week of the new season, to show gains. NBC still sucks, CBS had some shows drop a bit (still a powerhouse), DWTS showed a minor drop in the demo, and Castle showed a drop in the 18-49 demo!

    You want some more???…okay, how bout this one. House showed gains against DWTS. DWTS barely beat House at 8pm in the demo 4.1 to 3.9. Then at 9pm DWTS demo shot up to 4.6 18-49 after House went off air. Looks like House still has some bite to it huh!?

    But, more than likely this is still not good enough for some fans and I’m sure you’ll find some way to to dispute it. I happen to think this is great…those are the kind of demo’s networks drool over.

  • My review will be up later tonight. Hectic couple of days. Still writing and nearly finished.

  • Emma

    I don’t think the problem is “Huddy vs not-Huddy” (although it IS a valid point that Barbara is generally in favour of Huddy), but I think it’s the fact that when Huddy was brought in full-time the writing got sloppy and the stories got less believable – the focus was lost.

    If you rewatch seasons 1-3, there are barely any romantic encounters. Sure, Chase and Cameron have their little thing at the end of season 3, Cameron has her crush, Cuddy flirts, Stacy stays for a bit… but the point is, none of it overpowered the focus of the show.

    I think a lot of the viewers’ problems with Huddy isn’t the couple itself but that the focus seems to be entirely on it, at the expense of the other characters, storyline, and other things we tune in for. It means that, unless you’re a hard-core Huddy fan, watching lots of Huddy sex isn’t the most preferable thing. I’m not saying I have a problem with Huddy, I’m just saying the reason I think House/Stacy or House/Cameron worked better is because, essentially, they didn’t – those plotlines were never the entire focus of the show. The other characters’ importance wasn’t diminished – there were colleague fights, moral/ethical questions raised, quips made, jokes, etc – and I think a lot of that has been lost from House.

    Maybe if the writers took a step BACK from the fans and wrote the show more like they did at the beginning – ie less intensely – where House is much more chilled and grumpy and everything doesn’t MATTER so much the viewers would be a lot happier. Often the simplest storylines, done well, work best. It’s only since all this romance has come that everything’s started to fall to pieces. I mean, look at the new girl – already it’s all about her and Chase. Chase and Cameron managed to work together for an entire season before the romantic encounters began, and it was a one-off too.

    So, tighter writing, focused storylines. A step back from internet fans. A re-evaluaion of the plot. Less romance, and thinking more about individual episodes, not the season hookups as a whole. The show was once simple yet quirky and focused on the medicine, patients, questions, and a doctor, and I fear the focus has been so lost it can’t be regained.