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House, M.D.: Heading into the End of Season Seven

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For weeks now, I’ve ruminated upon why some of my friends in the House, M.D. fandom have become frustrated with the series. Why am I’m still enjoying House’s (the ever-incredible Hugh Laurie) journey, while others have become disenchanted? And still others, who a year ago or more wondered why I was still so intrigued, have rediscovered House, finding it once again enjoyable?

I know the arguments on both sides: what people have told me;Hugh Laurie  as House and Cuddy - Courtesy FOX what I’ve read on the couple of fan forums on which I participate—and of course the very lively comment thread at Blogcritics’ Welcome to the End of the Thought Process feature. Personally, I continue to be captivated by House’s story. I love that he has struggled this year with his tendency to screw things up, putting in an effort to make things work with Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). I’m sad it has ended, yet I’m incredibly curious about what will happen now that they have to really deal with each other for the first time since “Bombshells.”

I hated that House had gone insane after the breakup, setting his self-destructive button to “11.” But it is perfectly in character. We know he fell apart after he and Stacy broke up. I don’t imagine he sat in a corner and cried; I do imagine that he set out to destroy himself, leaving Wilson to pick up the pieces.

Yes, he indulges himself with a bevy of hookers, trying to bury his pain over the breakup. Yes, he tries his best to hurt Cuddy back, finding no satisfaction in it. Those two episodes following “Bombshells” are very hard to watch, but not because they are “bad.”

Hugh Laurie as the much battered House, M.D. courtesy FOX

I’m certainly disappointed that the pivotal House-Cuddy relationship fell apart so quickly after a multi-year build up, although in “real time” they’d been together nearly a year. But, I’m a big fan of the boy meet girl-boy loses girl dramatic structure, so I’m not entirely sure if in the end, we don’t see House back together with Cuddy (or even Stacy, for that matter).

But the comments from some long-time fans, many of whose opinions I’ve respected since almost the start of the series, have to make me wonder whether there’s something I’m missing? Has the series begun to lose a step? Or has genuine disappointment with the series’ main story arc formed a tipping point after which all the small irritants become now become magnified?

Does, then, the tolerance for those smaller annoyances (like plot holes, timeline goofs, or temporarily setting a favored character into the background, for example) depend on your disappointment with the larger story? Have the little things that have annoyed many viewers for years come into high relief and hence a step too far, after sending House tumbling once again very close to the abyss as he had been in the aftermath of “Bombshells?” (And for other fans with the scuttling of Jennifer Morrison’s Cameron?)

In seasons past we’ve heard some of the same complaints: too little House, the absence of clinic beats, too little interaction between House and the patient; House isn’t being serious enough; House’s misery is to unrelenting.  I would agree with many of those grievances and have aired them myself. Where I disagree is in the notion that the writing has suddenly become “bad,” and that the overall story has derailed into a black hole.

Although I’m disappointed that House and Cuddy’s relationship ends in “Bombshells,” I’m not unhappy with the show; I don’t think it’s necessarily time for House to be happy and healed. I’m also an unrepentant angst whore, so I would not be crazy about a happy and lighthearted House, if that ever happened for very long. Does he deserve happiness? Absolutely. Does he deserve to be loved? Of course. And I’m thrilled we’ve gotten to see this side of him during Season 7. But where would they go from here?

About Barbara Barnett

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

    I get the feeling that something has happened behind the senes this year, that has led to my feeling that nobody is really invested in the show any more. examples being, the opening episode leaked pictures, then reshooting the whole episode? David Shore being pulled back to the show, Katie Jacobs being pushed to the side, not saying anything these days. The hostile way Greg Yantaines talks to fans who dare to question, even the cast appear to be only going through the motions. Nobody going to the peoples choice awards except LE, and then almost being forced to do a thank you to the fans. Even Robert Sean Leonards I thought very angry rant about the show. No something has changed, and it is reflected by the episodes. They dont feel as thought out as they once where. Then there was Bombshells! what should of been a truly amazing classic episode of House, left me and no doubt many thousands of fans around the world, sitting saying what the F#%@ just happened. Then all the episodes after that especially “Out of the Chute” to me was just too painful and cringe worthy to watch! then there was more insult to injury, the writers have to make excuses why they wrote an episode the way they did, and David Shore himself declaring that everything was back to square one, the House-Cuddy relationship was done, and just like they did with Jennifer Morrison, said, there was no more to explore!!!!! I will watch till the end of the season, but I no longer get the exicted feeling in my stomach on a monday, knowing that a new House is on tonight. I feel I don’t care anymore. Because all the hard work House invested, his journey towards getting off Vicodin, working to have a relationship, only to be told that, House will never change period! well to me that is the end of the show, House has gone as far as he can, there is nothing to look forward too any more. Unless they do end this season with some kind of hope that all that House has jorneyed too is still there. Then I wont be back for another season.

  • ruthinor

    The other Barnett: Fox entertainment is run by MONEY. They don’t give a crap how they earn it, even if it goes against the principles espoused by their ludicrous News division and the right wing dirtbags who run it .

  • RedTulip_Ana

    @151-Jillian
    You did a very good summary of this season! That’s it!

  • Amie

    “Or has genuine disappointment with the series’ main story arc formed a tipping point after which all the small irritants become now become magnified?”

    => Exactly!!!! Count me in one of those.

    Very interesting comments by everyone. And as much as I agree with the H/C hookup being boring, out of character and a real missed opportunity for great explorations of relationships, it seems people are only focusing on this season and not really answering Barbara’s answer about when was the tipping point for us.

    I love this article and the question it asks as I have been wondering the same thing for sometime and trying to find an answer, comparing my liking of the different tv shows I watch. I loved reading what others had to say.

    I have noticed 2 things :
    1) I gladly rewatch season 1-4 episodes and almost none of season 5-7
    2) I started becoming spoiled during season 5 and it is the only show I look spoilers for even though I like other shows as much (for example The Good wife).
    This made me realize I didn’t care for spoilers about other shows because I didn’t care WHERE the story went because HOW it is done is always exciting. If its a comedy, I just want to laugh and don’t care about the story. If its a drama, if the drama is good, I don’t care where they take me. That was the case for House until season 5.

    And so I’ve come to realize that the HOW in House has not been as good as before, so I came to be interested only about the story, the WHERE they took me (hence looking for spoilers because that’s all that was interesting). And now the story has dissappointed me, it doesn’t make up for the rest.

    For me, season 1 to 4, even if there were episodes I didn’t like, are a pleasure to rewatch : great one-liners, great clinic scenes, potw that we cared for and were interesting, potw that House cared for, moments with music where time stood still and we could glimpse a bit of House, subtlety, ethical dimenas, duckling that argued with House…

    Then, during season 5, we got more lesser episodes than good ones. We got a lot less of all the things listed above. And, dare I say it, almost none in season 6 and 7 (I have not rewatched a single episode of season 6 and 7 – except the first two of S7).

    But I stayed for the story. House’s slow descent into the loony bin in season 5, his trying to redeem himself in season 6… I did think these seasons were a bit boring but I stayed because I’m curious and wanted to know what became of House the character and I thought it was consistent and intersting to watch his evolution.

    But then the storylines started annoying me : the droped ones (wilson’s brother?), the ones I didn’t care about (13), the incredible ones (Chase surgeon? then back on House’s team??? the Chase-Cameron breakup, the “you don’t lie to me”), ducklings that weren’t foils anymore for House (I missed Cameron for that, and I was glad Masters was here for that).
    But I still watched because I thought putting H and C together would make great tv, great storylines. What a dissappointment! Except for the first two, after each episode of this season I would think “ok, next one is where the exploration will start.” “ok next one” “ok next one” And so the breakup came as a shock because I was still waiting for the exploration to start.

    And so I’m sad of the wasted opportunity and the fact that they will not explore the H/C relationship more. I’m bored. And annoyed with the inconsistencies. And annoyed by the lack of seriousness, as MHM said (#16). The ddx are boring I don’t even pay attention anymore. It seems no one really cares about the potw anymore. The ducklings aren’t interesting. Only Masters shook things up a bit. I still can’t believe Foreman was ok with the foot massage and the pingpog table. He really is a useless character now. At least before, he used to confront House.

    Another thing that annoys me is what Flanarchist said (#26) : “The main problem for me is that for 3 seasons now,House has become a looser”.
    Thank you for pointing that out for me!
    He has always been an outcast, a rebel, miserable, but he acknowledged it, lived with it and, dare I say it, was proud of it. It defined him. For him, it wasn’t failure, it was not wanting to fit in.
    I’m really bothered by the “he failed the relationship” speech because I never saw him as a loser. He’s more of a fighter and I don’t understand why they didn’t have him fight back. It would so have been in his character to yell to Cuddy his hard truths like he did tons of times before.(something like a mixture of Finding Judas, Humpty-Dumpty and No More Mr Nice guy speechs : “you suck at being a girlfriend. you don’t copromise, you want your partner to change. you have “common” you dump him, you have “uncommon” you dump him too, you don’t know what you want and you’ll never find true love and happiness.”)
    For all these reasons, House has sunk low in my favorite tv show list and I don’t dare say outloud I like the show like I used to.

    Why I am still watching? Hope? Hope it gets better like it once was? Hope to watch once again what was my favorite show every week? But I’m running out.

  • http://barbarabarnett.wordpress.com barbara barnett

    I’ve been crazy busy, but I’ve been reading everyone’s comments. Just to let you all know that the next couple of Mondays I have meetings at work (yes, I have a job outside writing for Blogcritics :)) that will last until late. I won’t be able to see the episodes (unless I get a screener for next week) until I can watch them via DVR. I am a perfect example, by the way, these days of not being able to watch the show as it airs. And if I get home very late, I’ll probably just view the Amazon download and even skip the DVR (no commercials).

  • MHM

    Have come to a point where I feel bad for myself for watching week after week to subject myself to depression after watching.

    The final 4…1/4 of whatever hope I had left about the show improving in quality has been deflated, so 3/4 deflation to go. I get the feeling that they’re just going through the motions now.

    Wow. Self-pity is really not where I want to be. That is beyond angry and sad. Well, 3 more to go until closure.

    The 7-year itch? At this point, I think the show should have stopped before it developed an itch.

    *shaking myself to get over it, to “move on”*

    Good night, everyone. Apologies for the negativity, but it’s my honest opinion, so that’s allowed, right?

    Sweet dreams.

  • The Other Barnett

    ruthinor……calm down about FNC, you have MSNBC or Current or Al-Jazeera TV to watch….no need to call people names :)

    Amie, how can you still be watching House? I stopped watching dozens of shows that used to be favorites when the writing went off the rails. House’s writing and the staff attention has gone side-ways, yet I’d still rather watch this than some other dancing with the stars or another “collagen-lips sound like a fart” on CBS, or many other shows. There is still quality in the acting, the moments of the confluence of writing, story background, and acting; House is still House. I agree the notion of taking a fatalistic view could drain some enthusiasm held by viewers…but those viewers have to make a decision – Do they want to watch a good show or do they want to see someone they love improve…….it would be nice that both could happen, but maybe it can only happen a little on the latter and more on the former.

    MHM – What disappointment? Last nights show was pretty good. Was it ’3 stories’? No. But it was a welcome episode and an interesting possible set-up for something to hit at the end of the season. Heroin?……everyone loves rubber-necking a car-crash.

  • http://www.cadiz-turismo.com/playascadiz/playascadiz.php RedTulip_Ana

    Well … last night was the first assault! My impression? Good and bad. BITTERSWEET.

    Our thoughts were true. Arlene wanted to reconcile House and Cuddy. It did not work. I don´t understand the attitude of Cuddy and her irrevocable decision to never back with House. On the other hand, yesterday I had moments when I hated profoundly House.

    Brief analysis:

    - As much as we like the chemistry between House and Cuddy will not return. I did not like at all, to see the “game” between them: I forgive you hours of clinic, I ask your underwear … It’s not funny. It is no longer fun. Does not work anymore. Sad.
    - First I hated House, and I loved Cuddy. Then I loved House, and I hated Cuddy. At the end I came to hate (without malice) DS by these feelings.
    - Wilson was good. My first impression was that he was fantastic. I loved Wilson for a moment.
    - Arlene, as always, fantastic.
    - Cuddy … what happens with Cuddy? “I had every right to break up with you. ” Not a bit of regret. I still think that his reasons are not valid (my opinion).
    - House was a jerk at first. An asshole lover. Once again proved to be the smartest in the class.
    - The Vicodin … The Vicodin? Seriously? Wilson agrees with Vicodin? Cuddy agrees with the Vicodin? The last time the House was on Vicodin, he lost his medical license. On Now what? Wilson analyzed his pupils and entered through a window to verify that he was not on the vicodin! I do not believe it, sorry. By the way, those boxes of Vicodin, are not like before! (am I right?)
    - 13 is a bad influence on House (my opinion). She’s not a double … is worst.
    - The patient. I could clearly see House in the place of Cyrus.

    @Barbara, thank you very much…even when you are bussy, you have words for us!

  • Eileen

    156 – MHM -
    I completely agree with you about last night’s episode. It left me feeling the same way.

  • MHM

    159-Eileen,

    Thanks :)

    I don’t want to go into an in-depth analysis of why I didn’t like last night’s episode because I think I’ll rehash all the problems I’ve written before about my issues with S7 writing and direction.

    But, yes, there you have it. I didn’t see significant “changes” to change my mind about where the show’s at.

    Cheers,

    MHM

  • vicpei

    I like coming here because I feel like I did not finally went dumb, and there are plenty of other people feeling the same way about House. It is a wonder how we all eagerly wait for something better to give us an excuse to love it again. I don’t know about other shows. Is it the only show whose fans can’t face that it became average, after being outstanding?

    Tipping point for me : end of Bombshells. Completely unexpected in a bad way, OOC and made for shock value. And with the added bonus of Greg Yaitanes bragging about how brilliant it was, so good if we were all so upset. Sorry, shocking does not mean good.

    Breaking point : Dominika. NO WAY vintage House would do something as stupid as this wedding, and people don’t change, do they?

    Added grudges : Shore and the writers interviews, feeling the need to explain why they were doing everything perfectly and we were the dumb ones not understanding. Stubborn affirmations of no change ever, RIP Huddy, no hope. With a special mention to Liz Friedman on Bombshells, then her interview with you (no offense to you, Barbara), then her V-Log where she could not remember the title of the episode she wrote.

    I won’t insist on Taub’s love life and “Thirteen has to be the 2 most important character” on the show, because it has been said to no end. You don’t have to give viewers what they want, because you can’t please all of us, but you can at least spare them from things they clearly don’t want to watch. Name one person you know waiting eagerly for the fate of Taub’s marital vows?

    I, like many others, could watch and hear Hugh Laurie read a phone book. Main reason why I’m watching. I still watch, but with no preemptive excitement. I watch quite in disbelief for the past few weeks. And I am deeply sorry about that.

    And I can’t say how much I agree with this review on Blogcritics : House-When did it all go wrong? It summarizes pretty well what we have all been saying, while staying polite and respectful. You can feel the sadness of the fan – writer. Kudos to him/her.

  • Ellie

    I’m a bit late coming to this discussion, but Barbara, what a great article for generating feedback about this show, its history and what remains of its future. I am as devoted a fan of this show as anyone else although I wasn’t there from the beginning. When House first came onto the air I was in rehab…probably not a show for a newly clean and sober person. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I (quite accidentally) watched an episode and was immediately hooked. That episode was House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart. At the risk of sounding a bit silly, it was magic for me. Literally. I watched because there was nothing else on tv on a Friday evening and it was just magical. I didn’t see an actor playing a character, I saw a REAL person in Greg House and here again at the risk of sounding silly, I saw a person that I related to by virtue of the fact that this was an addicted person and with all of the multidimentional flaws and quirks and issues that go along with addiction. Whether the addict is high-functioning, as House is (mostly) or in the gutter, all addicts are like onions. you just keep peeling layers. Hugh Laurie portrays this character so beautifully I have a hard time believing he is still so underrated. I’m not a tv addict by any means, but his work hooked me, to the point that within two weeks after watching my first episode of House I had worked my way through all 5 seasons and was panting for August. it was only May.
    while I will stay with the show till the end I have to agree with so many of you about becoming gradually disillusioned with the writing, the direction of the show and how they have handled so many plot lines and character development. something is missing and I don’t believe that it is because the show is old or they are running out of ways to write it. I’m not really sure what it is, but my case in point right now is how Huddy was handled. they dropped the ball on that. and that is and understatement. it could have been, SHOULD have been so much better. after the buildup of the dynamic between House and Cuddy that was evident from the pilot, for those of us that were pulling for them we got the shaft. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, they should have waited to put them together until the final season of the show. when a show ends, especially a show like House, you want to think it’s going to be a mostly happy ending. we all know that House never stays happy for long, but why not leave it with ‘maybe this time he will be’? leave it with some promise that he will be happy with this woman he loves, and has loved for so long. there was no interaction between the two of them that was meaningful past the first few episodes this past season and for me personally what I did see with Cuddy made me frustrated and irritated with her. she was petulant and touchy and never seemed to be content. first she says she loves him and doesn’t want him to change and then she goes back on that, gets all bent out of shape because he uses her toothbrush or leaves the toilet seat up, and then, KNOWING how he is and how hard certain things are for him to handle, dumps him after he slips back into his addiction. first of all, if she ‘deserves better’ than a man who will put the seat down or wipe the shaving cream and toothpaste off the counter, she’ll wind up a spinster. men who pay attention to that crap are rare. but the way she dropped him after her health scare just sucked. I don’t know how else to put it. all those seasons of buildup for THAT? not even a year of them together, not even a GOOD year at that, and its over. I know this is too long and I could go on and on, as I know many of us could, but it almost seems to me that the writers are too bored to really put any quality effort into making the show as good as it once was. I have had a hard time watching this season and have only done so because Hugh is so amazing he can still serve it even when the writers are serving him crap. and this upcoming descent into complete and total madness has me worried that even though I know Hugh will still be awesome, the plot itself will stray so far into crazy that the show will cease to be credible. at all.