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House M.D.: Season Six(TV) (2009-2010)
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 Six and the House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray release, see House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 13, 2010 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 Six Blu-ray Review
I'm a loathsome, reclusive, diagnostic genius, Jim, not a doctor...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 13, 2010
House is an acquired taste. The unruly procedural of commercial broadcast television, the CSI of medical dramas, the anti-ER, creator David Shore's popular black comedy series has been Fox's crowd-pleasing dark horse for the last six years. Thanks in large part to award-winning English actor Hugh Laurie's prickly portrayal of Dr. Gregory House -- a cantankerous old cuss who makes Hannibal Lecter's bedside manner seem positively genteel -- and a revolving-door cast of talented supporting actors, the series has won critical acclaim and, more importantly, audience approval. But it isn't the easiest hour of television to tune into. At best, House is an eccentric genius. At worst, he's a narcissistic misanthrope; a bristly recluse his superiors tolerate only because he's so good at what he does. He's the Sherlock Holmes of diagnostic medicine, complete with ferocious intellect, psychological scars, antisocial tendencies and clinically obsessive determination. He'd love practicing medicine... if it weren't for all those pesky patients and doctors. However, in the series' sixth season, the House showrunners take the cranky doctor and his team in a different direction, albeit with mixed results.
Six seasons in, it's probably safe to forgo a lengthy series synopsis. Season Six begins shortly after House, finally coming to terms with his mounting mental unrest, checks himself into the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital for treatment involving a much-needed detox from vicodin. Skirting the line between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest homage and game-changing tease, director Katie Jacobs' two-part, feature-length opener is fantastic -- particularly since guest star Andre Braugher steps into the shoes of the hospital's attending physician -- unraveling House, pitting him against his own dark passengers, and pointing toward an exciting new vision for the series. Unfortunately, it's a vision that's all too quickly abandoned. After a brief brush with retirement, House leaps into the formulaic fray again, returning to his old stomping grounds to diagnose and treat a rash of bizarre psychological and physiological disorders. (He has to earn his medical license again, but it's all series semantics really.) Trapped in his shadow is glutton for punishment neurologist Eric Foreman (a grounded and effective Omar Epps), returning immunologist Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison), guarded diagnostic whiz Remy "Thirteen" Hadley (Olivia Wilde), aging physician Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), and longtime thorn in House's side, surgeon Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer). Other familiar faces fill out the remaining regulars. Robert Sean Leonard is back as House's conscience and exasperated friend Dr. James Wilson, and Lisa Edelstein is still on hand as Lisa Cuddy, Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital administrator and permanent resident in House's dimly lit heart.
Over the course of Season Six's twenty-one episodes, House and his team struggle to help a delusional videogame designer, a reviled African politician responsible for mass genocide (James Earl Jones), a man convinced he'll die before the age of forty, a porn star complaining of severe eye pain (insert inevitable jokes here), a criminal who's less than forthcoming about the cause of his condition, yet another amnesiac, a man keeping secrets from his devoted fiancé, and other difficult patients with equally mysterious illnesses. All the while, House dabbles with decency. But despite all the revelations, realizations, confrontations and... um, rounds of karaoke, he has more trouble reconnecting with his soul than diagnosing the rarest disease. While the series' fifth season attempted and failed to address the muck bubbling beneath his cold exterior -- addiction, delusions and outright insanity can't cure all script-writing ills -- the sixth season tries to root out House's humanity by sobering him up and allowing Wilson and Cuddy to psychoanalyze the dour doc to their heart's content. It's a successful gambit for the most part, but ultimately feels contrived, as if the only way House can evolve as a character is to reject everything that made him a beloved character in the first place. The series writers have written themselves into a proverbial corner, leaving the actors little choice but to work their magic and worm their way out.
Other problems crop up as well. Episodes like "The Tyrant" flex some hyperdramatic muscle, but reach too far and promise too much. Character development is best when it's organic, and Season Six tests its viewers' collective suspension of disbelief. Moral conundrums have long been the crux of shows like House, and will continue to be, but there's a microscopic line between the unlikely and the ridiculous; a tenuous line the series doesn't always straddle with grace. Shore's still viable six-year-old formula is growing staler by the minute, while attempts to reinvigorate the disorder-confusion-eureka routine by which the series earned its stripes occasionally fall flat. The diseases reek of villain-of-the-week melodrama, and there are times when it seems the source of the writers' inspiration is little more than a random page in a medical journal. But don't mistake my concern for complete dissatisfaction. House's writing team may be stuck in a rut in some regards, but their knack for smart character comedy, meaty emotional confrontations, and searingly sharp dialogue is alive and well. There isn't an episode that goes by that doesn't ferret out a laugh or induce hair-raising tension. Like any good procedural, it's easy to succumb to House's wares providing you don't step back and analyze every subplot and character beat that flitters in the wind. (A habit I wish I could kick.) Don't get me wrong, the series is anything but mindless -- it peddles dense diagnostic jargon like Star Trek: The Next Generation peddled nonsensical-but-incredibly-credible sci-fi bunk -- but switching off your left brain's more sensitive alarms is certainly helpful.
If anything keeps me coming back to House, it's Laurie and his cohorts. Remarkably rehearsed (even when their characters are coming undone) and utterly convincing (even when crammed into creaky subplots), their sometimes startlingly nuanced performances rise above the most outrageous storylines and haphazard plotting to create a ragtag band of geniuses worthy of attention and affection. Laurie, scripts be damned, continues to actively reinvent House from season to season; Epps, more than the well-adjusted center of the hospital, pushes the series forward in surprising ways; Wilde, Edelstein and Morrison supply House with a trio of intriguing, strong-willed female foils; and Leonard, though eternally chained to House's side, tackles his sixth year with renewed energy, cleverly complicating the show's most interesting relationship and lending a tireless spirit to a tireless role. There are times that Season Six amounts to more of the same; episodes that will leave you wondering if House has anything left to give. But it's in these moments that the actors rise to the challenge and produce something worth watching. While the series' storylines are solid, its drama engaging, its comedy amusing, and its inventiveness fairly apparent, it's the performances that make it infectious. Season Six has its problems, no doubt, but I'll be back for a seventh and, if all goes well, an eighth and ninth.
House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Blu-ray edition of House: Season Six cures any lingering ails with an outstanding, near-perfect 1080p/VC-1 presentation sure to thrill fans of the series. Colors are lifelike and wonderfully saturated, granting skintones healthy hues and black levels presence. Contrast is spot on (barring a few underwhelming nighttime sequences, no fault of the technical transfer) and depth is inviting as well, leaving little room for complaint. Fine detail is exceptional -- closeups are crisp and refined, textures are well-resolved, object definition is sharp and satisfying, and delineation is revealing -- and only a hint of ringing will give eagle-eyed videophiles pause. Pause your screen and examine any one of the show's crystal clear closeups. Notice the facial pores, the stubble, the fabric on the doctors' coats, or the stitching on House's Nikes. Some softness is apparent from episode to episode, but each instance traces back to the series' photography, not Universal's proficient encode. Artifacting, banding, smearing and other digital anomalies are nowhere to be found, and the harmless noise that does occasionally appear is a product of intention, nothing more. Suffice to say, there's little cause for concern. As television presentations go, House: Season Six offers one of the better transfers I've reviewed lately, and easily earns my recommendation.
House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Though not quite as impressive as its video transfer, Universal's involving DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track delivers the goods, immersing viewers in the life of a disagreeable diagnostic medicine rock star. Dialogue is clean and intelligible from episode to episode, and lines are rarely lost in the mix (the rules of television apply though, meaning some sound design mishaps do slip through unchecked). LFE output is earnest and earthy, injecting some punch into the series' veins, and the rear speakers are active enough to craft a convincing soundfield. Distant life support beeps, the hiss of diagnostic equipment, the hum of hospital lights, the clattering of ward blinds... it's all here to some degree, transplanting the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital to your home theater. Directionality is precise (albeit a tad restrained at times) and dynamics are bold as well, making for an enjoyable sonic experience overall. Granted, drawn out conversations often transform into front-heavy procedurals all their own, but the track offers enough ambient effects and acoustic prowess to make the thinnest soundscape digestible. All in all, House: Season Six is an able-bodied AV powerhouse that will please any series fans who take the BD plunge.
House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 5-disc Blu-ray edition of House: Season Six arrives with a hit-or-miss supplemental package, the majority of which is focused on "Broken," the feature-length, sixth season premiere episode. Still, four audio commentaries, Picture-in-Picture U-Control goodies, and more than an hour of high definition featurettes isn't a bad haul.
House M.D.: Season Six Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
House isn't on life support... yet. It has plenty of fight left in its soul, even if it's beginning to show its age. Season Six isn't as agile or gripping as previous seasons, but it surpasses most network dramas and delivers a rousing cocktail of black comedy, medical procedural know-how, and character-centric storylines. Universal's Blu-ray release is even better. While its supplemental package is average at best (four commentaries, a third tier U-Control track, and an hour of featurettes isn't quite up to snuff for a full season release), its video transfer packs a visual wallop and its DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn't disappoint. Fans of the series shouldn't hesitate to add this one to their carts.
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