Wednesday , September 23 2020
As House, starring the brilliant Hugh Laurie, enters its fifth season, what do you want to see happen? Join the conversation.

A Wish List for House, MD’s Fifth Season

Three weeks and counting. Everyone excited about the House, MD season five premiere? It will be a big week, indeed; first, the season premiere, then just a few days later the Emmys. I really do think that this is certainly Hugh Laurie’s year. (But, then again, I say that every year… sigh…)

But this year, Laurie submitted “House’s Head,” a brilliant and brave, emotionally raw and simply stunning performance. As I’ve noted before, Laurie was in nearly every frame, and he hit not one off note. What an emotionally exhausting performance that must have been. If he does not capture the Emmy this year (hear that, Emmy voters?) there simply is no justice in Emmy-land. Greg Yaitanes also undoubtedly deserves an Emmy for directing the incredibly difficult and complex episode. As for the series itself, nominated for Best Drama, whatever you may have thought about the season as a whole, this may indeed be its year with "Frozen." What "Frozen" shows Academy voters is a slightly more accessible Gregory House (and significant exposition about the character, as well as much chemistry between Laurie and guest star Mira Sorvino (as Cate). So fingers (and toes) crossed for wins all 'round.

So, with just a few weeks to go 'till the premiere, I thought it was appropriate to offer my personal wish list for season five. I know you all must have expectations and hopes for the new season — well, here’s the place to let them be known (if only to me and your fellow readers), offered for discussion and debate.

Where we last left off: Amber has died; 13 has discovered that she is positive for the Huntington’s gene; House hasn’t spoken since his last memory recollection (at least not consciously, and except through that incredibly sad gaze at Wilson from his hospital bed). Now awake, post-seizure (during which, according to Katie Jacobs, Hugh Laurie was so physically into the performance, he knocked over an IV and sliced his hand and foot!), House lies in the ICU with Cuddy at his side (holding his hand!).

The big question, of course is how House and Wilson’s relationship will suffer and play out over the first half of the new season. We know (cover your eyes, oh spoiler virgins!) that Wilson resigns his position, and that he needs to “get away,” maybe out of New Jersey altogether (no stereotypically snarky remarks about New Jersey, folks!). At the start of the season, Wilson has been on bereavement leave for several weeks. There are other factoids and rumors out there about what will be, but I’m not going there. Just the facts, guys. But you might want to take a peek at this new season five preview video, courtesy of FOX.

So without further ado, my season five wish list:

More introspective and thoughtful House (you must have known this one): I’ve generally believed that if anything was sacrificed during season four it was those incredible quiet moments — just Hugh Laurie and the camera. I could swear you can hear House thinking in those moments. You can see House feeling, hurting, agonizing… in other words, being human. And I want them back (and I think we’ll get our share this season). House has a lot to think about. As he hovered (again) between life and death, House (also again) chose life. It was a brave move, as the comfort of the white bus (“there’s no pain here”) beckoned him to end it finally, he fought his way out of the coma to face his pain, his misery – and Wilson.

An exploration of House and Wilson’s complex relationship: Way back in season one, Wilson said that his friendship with House is an “ethical responsibility.” Why? What is the origin of that statement? Where did Wilson and House meet? How did they become friends? They are superficially so different from each other, but somehow their friendship works — or it has until now. Is it simply that House is needy and Wilson “feeds on neediness?” I’m intrigued at Cate’s long distance assessment ( “Frozen”) of the (outwardly) nice, affable, and straightforward Wilson, and the complex, enigmatic, and (outwardly misanthropic) House. And I do believe we will get some insights this season.

And, why was House drinking alone at five in the afternoon (“House’s Head”)? The easy answer, of course, is that he missed Wilson. Or that he was drinking himself into oblivion so that he would be forced to call Wilson and thereby disrupt his evening with Amber — a “typical” Housian manipulation. (Which, by the way, I don’t really believe.) I think House was drinking alone and so early in the day because he is terrified of losing Wilson (as a friend). Wilson is House’s anchor into the world and (maybe) the lifeline that keeps him from despair. And as much as he would never admit it (at least up to now) House does realize this, and the thought of Wilson drifting away from him is difficult for House to handle. I’m excited to see how this will play out.

An exploration of House and Cuddy’s layered and uniquely intimate relationship: Cuddy sat at House’s bedside for a long time in “Wilson’s Heart.” And there is much, much more to this relationship than meets the eye. House makes no effort to conceal that Cuddy is the object of his sexual fantasies (made very, very clear in “House’s Head”). But she is also one of the few who can reach beyond House’s bluster and appeal to his better nature. In “Ugly,” House doesn’t want the cameras following the team around while they’re diagnosing (and he has a well-borne out point). But Cuddy zings him with the fact that without the cameras, the boy goes home without the surgery. House immediately relents (although he does, of course, continue to fight the cameras’ presence). House has kept her confidences, even as he makes lewd comments about her publicly, and has been more honest and open with her than virtually anyone else in his circle. But I want to know how they met; how long they’ve know each other — what’s the back story? We know they’ve slept together, but their easy intimacy (no one gets into House’s personal space like Cuddy does, and does it without House backing away) suggests something much deeper. What was Cuddy’s part in House’s original surgery? Was her presence in “Three Stories” real — or an avatar for House’s real doctors? Inquiring minds want to know!

More clinic moments: I love the clinic “beats.” I want them back. (Loved the prostitute with the St. Nicholas medal in “A Wonderful Lie” last season — one of the few clinic patients.) And I do understand that they shall return to their accustomed place this year. Not only do they offer a comedic relief valve for the more heavily dramatic, even tragic, moments, they often provide House with his “epiphany moment.” And (especially when kids are involved) they provide us with genuinely sweet moments from the (nearly always) cynical House.

A real place for Chase and Cameron: I loved season four Chase. He’s clearly found himself (albeit slightly unbelievably, in surgery), and I really like the calm, even demeanor he’s assumed. I also like Cameron in the ER. Okay, so she’s an immunologist, but it can be “fanwanked” into believability, can’t it? I like her as a conduit for new patients, and I like her as a mentor to the new fellows. And, by the way, I love the fact that she and Chase are together — and that it’s part of the series' fabric. But I do think they were vastly underutilized last season and my wish for season five is to see them much better incorporated into the episodes.

Something for Foreman to do other than sneer at House: I’ve made no bones about the fact that I’ve never been a big fan of Foreman. His main task seems to sneer and to scold House. I can see him slowly fitting into the role of House’s assistant, managing the day-to-day dealings with the new fellows. But my wish for season five is that he begin to take his House-blinders off and begin to appreciate House for who he is and what he does — while continuing to be a foil for his wilder ideas.

Continue building the new characters: (Okay, I know I’m going to get some flak from some of you, but here goes…) I like Kutner, 13, and Taub. I know that it’s been argued in the fandom that the new fellows are simply the old fellows “lite.” But I find them to be very different than Chase, Cameron, and Foreman. Kutner is fascinated by House’s maverick brand of medicine; he revels in its unconventionality. He is the first fellow who I can appreciate as a true believer in House and his methods. Taub is an older doctor (maybe even a peer of House, experience-wise); he’s smart and not afraid of House in the least. He’s also unafraid to go around House or above his head, and could provide challenges – and threats – to him. I actually do find 13 to be an interesting blend of tough (and as guarded as House) and fearful. My hope for the new season is that the writers continue to flesh them out and explore the bits of character information we learned about them in “Wilson’s Heart.”

No actors’ strike: My greatest wish for the new season is that there is no actors’ strike. Please, AMPTP (Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers) and SAG (the Screen Actors Guild), come to an agreement — and soon — so that not only will we be treated to a full season (selfish, I know), but that actors get their fair share of the new media pie and all will be well as House approaches its 100th episode later this year.

In the meantime, House reruns abound on both FOX (Mondays and Tuesdays) and on USA Network. New episodes return on September 16 on FOX!

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)."

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