TV on Disc: 'House: Season Eight'
The series ends with House on parole and just as bitter and petty as ever
"House: Season Eight" (Universal) opens with Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), TV's most famous misanthrope medical genius, serving time for his actions at the end of Season Seven (namely driving his car into Dr. Lisa Cuddy's living room, then fleeing the scene). And this is no country club for rich guys either, which is not a good fit for a reflexive contrarian like House. Luckily for him (and one supposes in an effort to keep the show from turning into a prison hospital drama) his former intern turned hospital surgeon Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps) pulls some strings and gets him paroled back in the old teaching hospital. He's got a new team of young interns (Odette Annable and Charlyne Yi), one returning face (Peter Jacobson's Dr. Taub), a new boss (Dr. Foreman), a running rivalry with former intern Chase (Jesse Spencer), and a much shorter leash.
Befitting the final season of long-running series with a dedicated fan base, the show takes its valedictory lap with return visits from almost every character who served on House's team (Jennifer Morrison, Olivia Wilde, Amber Tamblyn) or was a serious part of his life (Sela Ward, Andrew Braugher), including those who passed away (Kal Penn, Anne Dudek). Glaringly absence is Lisa Edelstein as Cuddy, whose fight with the show's creators was apparently final. There's no closure to that central relationship, just fallout.
But the season's main storyline centers on Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), who cuts ties with a still unapologetic House after his last betrayal, and his battle with cancer. Which means House has to cope with a drama where he's not the center of attention.
"House M.D." had worn out its welcome a few years ago, as far as I was concerned -- you can only do so much with a insufferable, insulting, arrogant, cynical, abrasive, whoring, Vicadin-popping anti-hero with no capacity for redemption. But it was always entertaining and it ends that way, plugging away with the disease-of-the-week while House proves again and again that everybody lies and executes his little rebellions against authority for no reason than it is in his sour, self-pitying nature.
22 episodes on five discs on Blu-ray and DVD with a trio of supplements worthy of the send-off. "House, M.D. Swan Song," which runs a substantial 43 minutes, is a tribute to the series and the folks who helped make it happen, from the creators to the caterers, and hosted with genial appreciation by Hugh Laurie himself, who drops his American House-speak for his natural British voice.
"The Doctor Directs: Behind the Scenes with Hugh Laurie" is a 47-minute anatomy of an episode, specifically "The C-Word," which was directed by Hugh Laurie himself, and it looks at what he brings to an episode that leans heavily on the friendship between House and Wilson. "Everybody Dies: A Postmortem" is the familiar farewell piece, with the cast and crew reflecting back on the show.