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House: Season 4 - Review

House: Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: House’s Soap: Prescription Passion; New Beginnings; Meet the Writers; The Visual Effects of House; Anatomy of a Scene: The Bus Crash; My Favourite Episode So Far…; ‘House’s Head’ Commentary.

THE fourth season of House took Hugh Laurie’s grumpy but much-loved doc to new and unforeseen heights and, in doing so, offered ever more fascinating insights into what makes the central character tick.

Having driven his original team to breaking point at the end of the third series, House (expertly played, as ever, by Laurie) began the new campaign with the task of having to pick some new recruits to badger, bully and generally make their lives a misery.

But rather than doing this instantly, or by adopting the usual interview process, House took his time… assembling a crack team of would-be specialists and then putting them through their paces and eliminating them one at a time over the course of the series.

It was an instantly clever move by the writers, bringing in fresh blood, fresher perspectives, and some formidable opponents for House to bounce ideas and tempter tantrums off.

And yet the show continued to make good use of its past regulars – with doctors Foreman (Omar Epps), Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) all having significant – if lesser – parts to play in the development of the series.

Of the new recruits, Carmen Argenziano’s Henry Dobson provided a wise old sparring partner who gave rise to a surprise revelation, while Kal Penn brought plenty of charisma to the role of Kutner. But the biggest impact was felt by Anne Dudek’s bitchy back-stabber Amber, whose later liaison with House’s friend, Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), helped draw the season to an unexpectedly tear-jerking finale.

Dudek was brilliant as Amber – a character we all loved to hate, but whose story arc gave rise to a devastating two-part season finale that could yet have a significant impact on House’s relationship with Wilson.

Throughout the rest of the season, however, there was plenty to savour… whether it was in stand-alone episodes including one involving a helicopter ride to treat a dying CIA agent, or another involving the presence of a reality TV crew who got under everyone’s feet.

Entertaining, too, were the usual glib and frequently acerbic comments from Laurie’s smart doc, or the sight of Cuddy delivering an unforgettable diagnostic session while pole-dancing!

And let’s not forget another personal favourite episode called Frozen that saw House battling to save a patient in the Arctic (played by Mira Sorvino), which even afforded Laurie a fleeting romantic possibility.

If Season five continues to match the standards set by four, and develops the possibilities left open at the end of Wilson’s Heart then we can confidently predict that the show will keep getting better and better.

House continues to be one of the best shows on TV and one that – like its central character – leaves you never quite sure what it’s capable of doing next. Long may that continue!

Certificate: 15
Running Time: 11hrs 13 mins
UK DVD Release: October 27, 2008