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House M.D.: Season Eight(TV) (2011-2012)
House finds himself in an uncomfortable position— away from the examination room. As he works to regain his license and his life, his coworkers deal with the staff shakeups, moral dilemmas, and their own tricky relationships with House. And when House returns more obstinate than ever, Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital will never be the same again.
For more about House M.D.: Season Eight and the House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray release, see the House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray Review
Starring: Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Olivia Wilde
» See full cast & crew
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray Review
Eighth verse, not as good as the first. Or the second. Or the third. Or...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 22, 2012
It's not the destination... it's the journey. You've heard it, I've heard it; it's a sentiment as old as disappointment and shattered expectations. Bah, I say. Bah. While the notion itself certainly holds some measure of truth -- in life, it is the journey, not where it takes you -- it shouldn't be so casually bandied about, particularly when discussing a work of fiction. When was the last time a book, film or television show with a terrible ending made its way onto your list of personal favorites? When was the last time you suggested a story or series that fumbled its grand finale to a friend or colleague? When was the last time you were able to successfully extinguish anger or ambivalence upon reaching a disenchanting end to a long road? The answer: never. There's never been a time when a subpar ending sat well with you. We're creatures of The Tale. We relish it. Invest in it. Devour it. Become one with its travelers and of like mind with its writers. An ending is as important to us as a beginning; that critical moment when we first want to read just one more chapter, want to plow through just one more in the series, or feel the overwhelming urge to sacrifice an hour of sleep to watch just one more episode.
House's eight-season journey, though addicting, has been a downhill slide. A fun downhill slide -- bumpy; heavy on peaks, light on valleys -- but a fun slide all the same. In a concerted, ongoing effort to break free of its deadly-disorder-of-the-week formula, the series dabbled in a little bit of everything, seemingly harmless genre-hopping included. Unfortunately, the subsequent pileup of storylines, at-odds subplots, character drama, mental hospital check-ins and state prison check-outs backed the House writers into a corner. What should become of cranky, ethically challenged Dr. House? His perpetually abused staff? His best friend? His legacy? The more outlandish the series became, the more unlikely it was that the finale, any finale for that matter, could possibly bring it all to a rousing end. Oh, the show ends decently enough, not that I'll spoil the nature of its closer here. But is "decently enough" good enough? Not as far as this House junkie is concerned.
When last we left dear, dysfunctional Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), the misguided misanthropist had driven off the deep end... right into his ex's house in a fit of self-loathing rage, literally with his car. Because that's what you do when your girlfriend is diagnosed with cancer and breaks up with you upon realizing you're hopelessly and eternally doomed to walk the Earth a Vicodin addict. The result? Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein, whose presence is sorely missed) is sadly MIA throughout Season Eight, replaced by an ankle bracelet of all things, as if that were enough to keep House in one place. Wilson (the ever under-appreciated Robert Sean Leonard), though still very much a part of the ensuing car-in-house fallout, isn't pleased with his friend's seventh season behavior either, robbing the cantankerous Dr. House of not one but two grounding forces for many of the eighth season's rocky twenty-two episodes. The series' showrunners at least had the good sense to toss House in prison for a few months (the majority of which thankfully occurs prior to "Twenty Vicodin," the season opener), even if they neglect to make his return to the medical profession remotely plausible. But it's House. There are patients to save, and Greg's the only guy who can save 'em. House could have gone on a Vicodin-induced killing spree last season and I'm guessing the series' writers would have still found a way to get him back to work by the time the next season rolled around.
When House wades into familiar hospital procedural waters, everything clicks into place, if only for moments at a time. The pacing and plotting aren't as breezy or effortless as they once were -- there's simply too much to deal with in any given episode -- but the medical mysteries are gripping (in a tense but fundamentally manufactured and predictable sort of way), the diagnoses are as wildly left-field as they've always been, and House and Wilson's Holmes/Watson bickering and bantering continues to work all these years later. But the writers continually find themselves stuck between the new and the old; glancing back, wrapping up plotlines and tying up loose ends, and forging ahead, with new faces, newly promoted supporting characters, and newly confounded, soon-to-be offended, ultimately elated patients. It's hard to watch it unfold without understanding that, at some point, House is going to have to confront his inner beasties, once and for all, and everyone around him will have to come along on his dangerously introspective demon-hunt.
On the brazen surface, it's different than what has come before. In the throes of reality, it's the same emotional burnout and phoenix-rising arc we've been watching, week in and week out, for eight years, and the same egomaniac-thwarts-karma shtick employed by countless other series, typically to diminishing returns. It's a formula wrapped in a formula inside yet another formula, and it's as dizzying as it is occasionally detrimental. Worse, it all hangs by an astonishingly thin thread. In some ways, Cuddy's absence is debilitating; not so much because Edelstein was such an essential actress, but because Cuddy had become such an essential component of the show. The House writers are left desperately trying to complete series-wide puzzles without having all the necessary pieces at their disposal. Her departure, after exposing House's vulnerability and capitalizing on his schoolboy crush, is so mishandled that it ranks three degrees shy of arbitrary, unofficially making Season Eight one season too many.
It's all terrifically entertaining, of course... if you're able to sit back and enjoy it on its own terms. And most every actor -- Laurie, Leonard, Omar Epps (as Dr. Foreman), Peter Jacobson (Dr. Taub), Jesse Spencer (Dr. Chase) and even Olivia Wilde (Thirteen) -- gets a chance to sign off in style. In many ways, Foreman, Taub and Chase arrive at a more fitting end than House and Wilson; compensation for the hell House has put them through. Surprise, surprise -- strike that; spoiler, spoiler -- each one arrives at a happy ending, and each one is left to live out an entirely different show in the minds of the millions of fans House is leaving behind. There will be those who see these happy endings as a reward, and in many ways they are. But there will also be those who sense a lack of substance and, in the case of House's fate, some hint of comeuppance. I'm not sure when the series became a procedural fairy tale, but so it ends; they all lived happily ever after. One major character receives a serious diagnosis and still rides off into the sunset. Those same viewers and longtime fans may as well prepare to slap their foreheads as well when -- brace again for mild spoiler -- the show's resident Sherlock and Watson receive a very direct, none too subtle Sherlock and Watson send-off.
No, spending eight seasons with House hasn't been a waste of time, no matter how trite and prepackaged its endgame and finale may be. But I'd wager a leaner, meaner six-season House would have been more satisfying when all was said and done than a hobbling, bloated eight-season crowd-pleaser of the same name. It's possible to have too much of a good thing, and Fox has been spoon-feeding us too much of a good show for some time now. Does the series' end run taint everything that comes before it? No, but it doesn't help much either. House fizzles when it should erupt, and that shouldn't sit too well with anyone. The journey is vital, absolutely. But so too is the destination.
Twenty Vicodin: House must work with a young and energetic physician, Dr. Jesse Adams, at the East New Jersey Correctional Facility where he is now an inmate.
Transplant: A surprising visitor gives House the chance to assist a new and timid resident with her unique patient at Princeton-Plainsboro.
Charity Case: When a man inexplicably collapses after making a rare and generous donation, House recruits Adams to lend her expertise to the case.
Risky Business: House and his team work around the clock to help a wealthy, ailing patient, and Park prepares for her hearing with the hospital's Disciplinary Committee.
The Confession: The team discovers that their patient has been keeping shocking secrets, but he compromises his chance of receiving proper medical treatment when he makes a public confession.
Parents: A teenage boy is admitted to Princeton-Plainsboro, and a disturbing fact about his family is uncovered during the search for a bone marrow match.
Dead and Buried: It's more than just teenage angst for a fourteen-year-old patient whose physical symptoms continually worsen.
Perils of Paranoia: When the team finds an arsenal of firearms in a patient's house, they realize that what appeared to be hyper-anxiety is actually a deep-seated psychological disorder.
Better Half: "In sickness and in health" is put to the test in two unusual cases: one involving a man with Alzheimer's and his wife, and the other involving a chaste marriage.
Runaways: A young, homeless patient needs adult consent to receive treatment, and she confesses that she ran away from home after struggling to care for her mother, a recovering addict.
Nobody's Fault: Following a violent incident, Dr. Walter Cofield - Foreman's former mentor and the current Chief of Neurology - reviews House and his team and their unorthodox methods.
Chase: Chase finds his medical judgment compromised when he forms a unique connection with his patient, a young, cloistered nun on the verge of making her own vows.
Man of the House: Positions of power are explored as House and his Ukranian green card wife try to convince Immigration of their union, and a marriage counselor issues contradictory messages before and after his collapse.
Love is Blind: House and his team struggle to save a successful blind man so that can propose to his girlfriend, and House's mother brings some interesting news.
Blowing the Whistle: Difficult decisions must be made when an army veteran refuses treatment until he gets sensitive information about his late father, and Adams recruits the team to stage an intervention with House.
Gut Check: It's time to face hard facts as the team takes on the case of a hockey player who collapsed on the ice, House drops a bomb on Wilson, and Park considers charging her living arrangement.
We Need the Eggs: Things get emotional when the doctors investigate a man who cries blood, and House attempts to find a new hooker.
Body and Soul: Dreams come into focus as House and his colleagues examine a young boy whose night terrors of being choked cause him to wake up unable to breathe, and Park reveals her own personal visions of the staff.
The C-Word: Over-diagnosis becomes a possibility when the team takes on a dying six-year-old girl whose mother, a doctor herself, specializes in her daughter's unique condition.
Post Mortem: When House mysteriously disappears, the hospital staff finds themselves in the tricky position of treating a pathologist who will only accept treatment from the missing man himself.
Holding On: A mysterious nose bleed turns out to be much more for a college student who claims to hear the voice of his deceased brother, and Thirteen returns to give Wilson some advice.
Everybody Dies: House treats an unforgettable patient whose strange condition finally forces the doctor to confront his personal demons.
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like House's previous Blu-ray releases, Season Eight is backed by a confident, only slightly flawed 1080p/VC-1 video presentation that delivers a dose of high definition prestige to the series' final hurrah. Colors are mostly muted and skintones are a bit under the weather at times, even though the season's twenty-two episodes have their share of warmly lit interiors, striking primaries and comfortably deep black levels. None of it is an issue, mind you; the show's oft-sterilized palette can be as contrary and disagreeable as the questionably good doctor himself. Detail remains the highlight of the presentation nonetheless, and rarely takes a hit from other aspects of the image. Fine textures are clean and refined, with plenty of grizzled beardiness and discontented world-weariness to go around. Edges are crisp and well-defined, with only a touch of haloing to be found. And delineation is decidedly decent, revealing nuances in the otherwise murky shadows that will be lost to those who settle for the Season Eight DVD. Shot after shot, scene after scene brings the goods, despite some inherent softness here and there, less-than-ideal lighting and those rare (but persistent) artificially sharpened eyesores. Granted, complaints are few and far between -- some exceedingly minor artifacting and banding here, some equally minor shimmering there -- but they aren't baseless and House's eighth season presentation isn't perfect. Still, it comes close enough to make the series' medicine go down smoothly.
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, Audio Quality
House's sound design and latest DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track won't win any awards (or shouldn't rather), but each one does its job and does it reasonably well. While a tad front-heavy on the whole, the series' soundscape is buzzing with surgeons racing to the OR, doctors scrambling to react to a sudden spike or drop in vitals, keyboard keys tapping away and book pages flipping as desperate brainiacs try to come up with a diagnosis and plan of attack, and the general hustle and bustle of a highly trained, highly skilled staff in a renowned hospital. That intensity comes through, more or less, thanks to assertive (but not quite aggressive) rear speaker activity, dutiful (not exactly precise) directionality, and solid (not sternum-splitting) low-end support. It works hand in hand to crank up the tension, and yet still feels a bit too thin, especially when considering everything that's happening on screen. Dialogue remains clear, mobile and perfectly intelligible, though, and voices are nicely grounded in the mix. The soundfield is immersive enough to make any criticism of the mix fade away within minutes, and the LFE channel and rear speakers are involved enough to make scenes that rely on them that much more effective. Ultimately, Season Eight's DTS-HD MA track sounds as good as House's previous Blu-ray lossless outings. The series still sounds like a TV show more than anything else, sure, but fans will forgive it its easily dismissed trespasses all the same.
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With its eighth season, fan-favorite House may have overstayed its welcome. True believers will defend the series to the death, but the more discerning members of its flock will be more willing to admit the last few seasons of the show have been an exercise in diminishing returns. The cast remains as terrific as ever, Laurie and Leonard as watchable as ever, and the episodes as gobble-em-down addicting as ever, but the thrill, and much of the satisfaction, has gone away. Season Eight's middle-of-the-road series finale doesn't help and only exacerbates the problems that have haunted the ever-entertaining House for years now. Fortunately, Universal's Blu-ray release doesn't disappoint. For the most part, that is. The eighth season's supplemental package is woefully short on extras (worthwhile as its three documentaries are), while its AV presentation offers almost everything series fans have come to expect from House and its high definition excursions. So until a Complete Series set appears on the horizon, join me in bidding the beloved but belligerent Dr. Gregory House a bittersweet farewell.
House M.D.: Other Seasons
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, News and Updates
• House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray - May 31, 2012
In August, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring House M.D.: Season Eight to Blu-ray. Golden Globe-winner Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little) stars in this popular television procedural as Gregory House, a defiantly antisocial and self-destructive doctor who ...
House M.D.: Season Eight Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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