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House M.D.: Season Seven(TV) (2010-2011)
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 Seven and the House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray release, see House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 19, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Olivia Wilde, Jesse Spencer
» See full cast & crew
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray Review
"There's no wrong choices. At least that's what they tell people who make crappy choices."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 19, 2011
I appreciate good bedside manner, I do. If I have to spend an evening in the ER, get an MRI or discuss a nagging ache in my knee, I want to be treated like a human being. I don't want to feel as if I'm keeping my doctor from his latest round of golf. But if I come down with some bizarre, mystifying disorder -- if, say, my intestines began to inexplicably liquefy and ooze out of my nose -- I wouldn't be too concerned with a specialist's bedside manner. I'd take a doctor like House any day of the week over a cozy smile and a friendly shrug of the shoulders. I'd even crack a smile, nod politely and lay back while he administered whatever miracle cure he happened to stumble across in that infinite brain of his. I know, I know. Life isn't a TV series. But it isn't hard to see why so many people are hooked on shows like House; shows where every impossible problem has a solution, every deadly disease has a cure, and every dark cloud has a shiny silver lining. It's escapism, pure and simple. Deliriously funny, instantly gratifying, dangerously formulaic escapism that, for those willing and able to suspend some measure of disbelief, is as entertaining as it is addicting.
Warning: previous season spoilers ahead. When last we left the habitually cranky Dr. House (Hugh Laurie), he and his direct supervisor, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), were standing on the precipice of a romantic relationship, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) had kicked House out of his condo, the forever-enigmatic Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) was preparing to inform the good doctor she was taking a leave of absence, and the rest of House's medical diagnostic team -- Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson) and Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) -- were still trying to determine how best to deal with their fearless but impossible-to-please leader. Very little changes in Season Seven (particularly compared to past seasons), other than the details of the doctors' personal lives and working relationships. House and Cuddy's not-so-secret love life becomes a distraction at the hospital as the two learn to co-exist (to sweet but comical ends), Wilson and his first ex-wife (Cynthia Watros) move in together, Foreman tries to figure out where he stands with House, Taub struggles with his own role, Chase continues to deal with his divorce by sleeping with anyone in a pair of heels, and Thirteen disappears for a stretch of time, leaving the Boys' Club with the seemingly impossible task of finding a suitable (if not temporary) replacement; a talented candidate Dr. Cuddy demands be of the female persuasion. After Foreman, Taub and Chase fail to find the perfect applicant, House hones in on med student Martha Masters (Amber Tamblyn), a young, quirky, good-natured Doogie Howser type who might, might just be a good fit. If she can learn to lie and buck the system to House's satisfaction...
But, of course, House is never really satisfied, even when saving lives. He relishes the hunt, not the kill, and his kicks end the moment a successful treatment begins. Case closed, next case please. It's this disconnect that lends the show its witty, off-kilter cadence, and it's this same disconnect that make the verbal jabs House and his team trade with one another such an episode-to-episode delight. (One example? He gives Foreman the opportunity to choose Thirteen's replacement, only to immediately fire the poor girl Foreman chooses. His rationale? Foreman's ego needed an adjustment. And that's just one of many cheap tricks the demented doc pulls.) Somehow, though, the constant disrespect and never-ending bickering allows the team, ever in flux it seems, to function as both a cohesive diagnostic force and a sharp, oddly endearing ensemble. Laurie is a manic, self-deprecating monster of a man, God love 'em; spitting out deadpan tirades and droll insults with a gleam in his eye, a smirk on his face and a skip in his slack step. In response, Edelstein snacks on entire scenes as House's fiercest combatant, a role she relishes even more this season as love and romance mingle with cynicism and distrust to make their hospital confrontations that much trickier to navigate. As a couple, their snarky spark ignites the series, if only for a dozen episodes or so. Apart... well, there's always Leonard and the indispensable Wilson, without whom House just might be an obnoxious protagonist. It's the balance -- be it courtesy of Leonard, Edelstein, Wilde, Epps, Jacobson, Spencer or Tamblyn (who sits at the center of the season's best moral dilemma) -- that makes House a likable character, and it's to the showrunners' great credit that they continue to surround the cantankerous doc with so many amusing, downright intriguing gluttons for punishment.
That said, House suffers from CSI Syndrome, a devastating disorder that afflicts almost any series that repackages the same episode over and over and over again. Rather than poking and prodding a dead body, House and his team are presented with a patient dying from some strange, incredibly complex (or sometimes deceptively simple) disease, at which point they trot from ward to ward, administering test after test, failing time in and time out, and thinking really, really hard until, voilà, someone stumbles across the correct diagnosis at the forty-minute mark. Naturally, small departures and shakeups keep things fresh. Death, complications, misdiagnoses, personal issues, flaring egos, hurt feelings and other hit-or-miss plot twists that chirp "sorry!" or "surprise!" as they tromp by. But each episode is essentially the same ("Bombshells" being the prime exception). Eventually, between all the medical jargon, last-minute saves and gruesome depictions of the patients' various symptoms, a strain of malaise sets in; a malaise that tends to metastasize the moment a fan or newcomer tries to plow through too many episodes, one after the other. It isn't a debilitating disorder, and I'll be the first to admit it comes with the territory, but it takes its toll nonetheless. Worse, House is the Big Brain on board, meaning his team -- while active contributors to his thought process -- are often sidelined while House swoops in and saves the day. Again, numerous departures and shakeups prevent the supporting cast from being completely relegated to the bench (usually stemming from their boss's flaws), but it's quite clear that if House left Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital, a whole lotta people would suddenly shuffle off to meet their Maker.
Does it matter in the long run? Nah. Not much anyway. House, formula-driven though it may be, is cleverly written, ably performed, ingeniously irreverent fun that rarely takes itself too seriously. It's Sherlock Holmes for the St. Elsewhere set, and it loves nothing more than a good mystery and an eccentric misanthrope. Laurie's command of the room, the cast's chemistry, their just-south-of-self-aware performances, and the writers' knack for weaving personal idiosyncrasies with hospital drama, horrible illnesses and a touch of dark comedy makes the series instantly accessible and all-too-watchable. Malaise aside, it's easy to burn through an entire season in a few days. It's the sort of show that leaves you itching for more, if only to find out what House will say next, where he and Cuddy will go, what Taub and Foreman will argue about this time, how much Wilson will put up with or where-oh-where Thirteen disappears to for so many weeks. (Spoiler alert! If you guessed the set of Cowboys & Aliens, your deductive skills are impressive indeed.) Scrubs is funnier, ER is more intense and Nurse Jackie is more sardonic, but House is more stable, more digestible and, in some ways, more filling. With Season Seven, the series doesn't show many signs of aging (especially compared to lesser outings like Season Five). If nothing else, House has proven itself capable of mixing things up to a degree that it could go on for as long as the showrunners and Laurie are willing to keep its heart pumping. Seven seasons in, it's wearing out its welcome with me, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy it anymore. It just isn't the first (or third) thing I pounce on when I check my DVR queue.
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray, Video Quality
House's 1080p/VC-1 encoded seventh season presentation isn't quite as bright or snappy as its sixth season predecessor, but it isn't disagreeable either. Colors are subdued but natural, and skintones are nicely saturated. Contrast is consistent as well (if not a bit dull at times), black levels are satisfying, and delineation, though not entirely perfect, is decidedly decent. Detail is also impressive, offering reasonably well-resolved fine textures, able-bodied closeups and pleasantly refined edges. In fact, when the series' lighting permits, the image can be downright striking. That said, faint ringing sneaks in now and again, soft midrange shots aren't uncommon, and the team's conference room is a petri dish for a variety of strange mishaps and aberrations (in "Changes," one particularly unsightly shot of House looks as if it were filmed with a standard definition camcorder). Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), most -- if not all -- of these oddities are symptoms of flaws present in the show's original photography, nothing more. Otherwise, Season Seven clips along without a hitch. Exceedingly minor artifacting, banding and crush are present on occasion but, even at their worst, amount to negligible blips in the seventeen-hour presentation, and aliasing, severe smearing (note the use of the word "severe") and other more significant issues are nowhere to be found. All things considered, Season Seven's encode stands up to to modest scrutiny and almost, almost delivers on its potential. After waffling between a 3.5 and a 4.0, I settled on a 3.75 (which rounds to a 4.0 in our scoring system).
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal tops Season Seven's video presentation with a physically fit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track much like the mix that accompanied Season Six. Dialogue is clear, intelligible and given full reign of the center channel, lively ambient effects spruce up the hospital's light soundscape, and Jason Derlatka and Jon Ehrlich's score (and the occasional song) rises and recedes comfortably within the already engaging soundfield. And while the experience isn't terribly immersive -- rear speaker activity, by its quiet nature, is fairly restrained -- it suits each episode well. The same could be said of the LFE channel, with its subtle but serviceable support. But House isn't bursting with gunfire and 'splosions, now is it? (Once again, "Bombshells" is the biggest exception, as its dream sequences venture away from the series' preferred stomping grounds.) Ultimately, there aren't any red flags to dwell on; no issues, no distractions, no shortcomings. Fans will be pleased with the results.
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 5-disc Blu-ray release of House M.D.: Season Seven comes up short in one regard: extras. With twenty-three episodes, three commentaries seem rather trivial, leaving little more than a third-tier U-Control experience and forty-five minutes of featurettes to keep things going.
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Much like the series and its seventh season, Universal's latest House release is a solid one. Its video transfer may be less striking than its Season Six predecessor, but it still fares quite well (most of the disparities can be chalked up to its source anyway), its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track handles each episode with ease, and its supplemental package is the only real obstacle to completely enjoying the 5-disc Blu-ray edition of Season Seven. Fans shouldn't hesitate. I'd even go so far as to say newcomers should consider jumping on board too. There's no need to go all the way back to the beginning to savor the series. It helps, but the show is accessible enough to take viewers for a great little ride no matter where they hop on.
House M.D.: Other Seasons
House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray, News and Updates
• House M.D.: Season Seven Blu-ray - May 26, 2011
From Universal Home Entertainment, all 23 episodes of "House M.D.: Season Seven" will make their Blu-ray debut on August 30th, 2011. Starring two-time Golden Globe-winner Hugh Laurie (Monsters Vs. Aliens), "House" follows Dr. Gregory House and his team at Princeton-Plainsboro ...
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