After somehow managing to include new actors in the show as well as retain its original cast, House M.D. once again attempted to mix things up this season sobering House up to the point where he would no longer pick at people the way he had in the past. While there was definitely still some of that, the overwhelming tone of the season was that of redemption—something that is painfully reflected in the season finale, which still doesn’t sit well with me. Skirting that issue though, this was yet another season of a brilliantly written, acted, and directed show that seems to not obey the rule that shows must decline in quality as they progress through seasons.
Get ready for a full dose of medical mystery with 21 episodes of the riveting drama series, House. Hugh Laurie is joined by James Earl Jones (Star Wars), Laura Prepon (“That 70’s Show”) and David Strathairn (The Bourne Ultimatum) in guest appearances as he returns to his Golden Globe®-winning and Primetime Emmy® Award-nominated role as Dr. Gregory House. In this brilliant sixth season, 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 staff shakeups, moral dilemmas and their own tricky relationships with House. Featuring an outstanding supporting cast including Omar Epps (“ER”), Olivia Wilde (Tron), Lisa Edelstein (“The West Wing”), Jesse Spencer (Uptown Girls), Peter Jacobson (Transformers), Jennifer Morrison (Star Trek), and Robert Sean Leonard, this must-own, five-disc collection includes all 21 Season Six episodes complete with hours of riveting bonus features, including an exclusive original short, behind-the-scenes interviews, episode commentaries and more!
The fantastic thing about House M.D. is that it is damn near impossible to find an episode in any of the seasons that isn’t compelling and gripping in some way. None of the episodes leave you feeling “oh, well that could have been better if they didn’t do this” or “if they had gone in this direction”; everything about the show just always feels absolutely pitch perfect in every way—from the characters, the dialogue, the stories and just the writing in general, House M.D. is and likely always will be one of the most smartly written shows on television and one that will hopefully earn Hugh Laurie as many nominations as possible. Not that Laurie can take all the credit, although he is undoubtedly the reason people tune in each week, but between Thirteen, Wilson, Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), Cameron, Foreman and Chase (sorry Taub, I can do without you), the series has just always had such a robust cast that even when House felt like he may be playing the same fiddle, the way they went about dealing with it is what kept the show unique and interesting.
This sixth season went on for so long (or, rather, it went on a long mid-season break) that episodes I thought were in season five turned out to be part of this season. Notably the episode that weighed heaviest on the series was the episode that featured James Earl Jones, which made for a pivotal turning point in not only the season but also for the character of Chase (and subsequently Cameron, who made for a surprising return in the same episode that featured David Strathairn—another fantastic episode, if a bit contrived in parts). Undoubtedly the main focus was House and how he was adjusting to life without drugs and the relationships that he attempted to repair along the way. Not to mention the whole moving in with Wilson and dealing with Wilson’s relationships…there was definitely a lot to this season and it’s a testament to the characters (and the writers obviously) that what I’m remembering has more to do with the individual characters on the show rather than the mystery-of-the-week medical diagnosis.
Having praised the season for its exceptional writing and characterization, I must wag my finger at it for the finale. I appreciate that the writers have gone on record saying that they’re dedicated to following through with what they’ve set up, but the way that Cuddy and House eventually ended up together at the end felt terribly, terribly forced. It felt abrupt and considering how much time in the episode (or, hell, the entire season) they could’ve worked something else in to help it feel a bit more organic rather than so sudden, I just don’t get what they were trying to pull by giving that to us in the final moments of the season. I’m sure it’ll return with a new situation and new ideas for us to wrap our head around, but overall the finale was probably one the most disappointing episodes of the series I’d ever seen.
Still, the season was such a great ride to go on that I can’t help but Highly Recommend it regardless. Though it left a bad taste in my mouth at the end, I can only imagine I’ll be a great deal more satisfying once it starts up gain in a few weeks.
Despite being an excellent show with an amazing cast, the DVD releases for this series always seem to be less than impressive. I’m not sure what it is, but between the overly simple packaging design and the always quiet and static menu systems, House M.D. just never really shines on DVD. While the dual layer digi-pak trays are conservative in the space they take up on the shelf, the rest of the packaging, this season coming in an abundance of blue, simply looks unimpressive. The disc art is a simple logo on a mirrored surface, so there’s nothing particularly fascinating there. On the outside, the series simply looks bland and boring when it comes to the packaging that Universal gives it…but on the other hand, it also works for the series. I guess I would just like to see a more impressive approach to the series disc art and disc menus, as what we get is always just so mild in comparison to other TV shows on DVD.
While the presentation on the outside is a bit weak, what we get on the inside is no slouch. It’s hard to review this series on DVD having watched the season in HD on Fox, but even knowing what it can look like in HD, the series still looks remarkably good in SD. The colors are strong and vibrant with an extremely sharp picture throughout the season. Plenty of character detail is given and with a good upscaling DVD player, you’re liable to almost get it looking close to the original 720p broadcast. The audio matches the original broadcast with a English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that sounds fantastic, with plenty of surround work and LFE output during the course of the season.
Those holding out for the Blu-ray release (which streets the same day as this DVD release) will get a few more extras as well as the upgraded A/V components of course, but those opting for the DVD edition will still get a decent collection of extras. Included:
o BEFORE BROKEN: AN EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL SHORT: Featuring Hugh Laurie and shot on location with no script and no plan, experience House’s emotional journey at Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital from an all-new up close and intimate perspective as originally envisioned by director/executive producer Katie Jacobs in a never before-seen original short.
o A DIFFERENT POV: HUGH LAURIE DIRECTS: Hugh Laurie does double duty as Dr. House and director of the episode “Lockdown.”
o NEW FACES IN A NEW HOUSE: A discussion about the challenges and opportunities that are presented when
a show must hire more than 30 new actors to perform pivotal roles in an extremely important episode.
o A NEW HOUSE FOR HOUSE: An in-depth feature highlighting the amazing Mayfield hospital set from the two hour season premiere episode, “Broken.”
• FEATURE COMMENTARIES
o BROKEN COMMENTARY with director/executive producer Katie Jacobs, writer/executive producer Russel Friend & writer/executive producer Garrett Lerner.
o 5-TO-9 COMMENTARY with series star Lisa Edelstein and writer/executive producer Thomas L. Moran.
o WILSON COMMENTARY with series star Robert Sean Leonard and writer/supervising producer David Foster, M.D.
o HELP ME with Director/Co-Executive Producer Greg Yaitanes and Technical Advisor Larry Collins
All in all there are about fifty minutes of featurettes plus the three commentaries, so it’s not a terribly packed release but it’s not exactly barebones either. You’ll pull some cool information out of the featurettes and the commentaries are engaging to listen to as well. Definitely fans-only type material, but then again unless you’re a fan of the show it’s doubtful you’d be watching them regardless.
Overall a Recommended season to add to your collection.
House – Season Six arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on August 31st.