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House: Season 6 - Complete Season Review

House: Season 6

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE sixth season of acclaimed medical drama House proved to be an extremely transitional one for its leading man, Dr Greg House (played, as ever, by Hugh Laurie).

It began in the depths of despair, as Greg attempted to battle his addictions and personal demons in a detox programme, and ended in the surprising arms of Dr Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein). And it proved a typically riveting journey.

There are some critics on American forums and such who argue that House has long since ‘jumped the shark’… that putting personal stories to the fore has sacrificed much of the show’s early sharpness.

I, for one, think it’s been for the better. The longevity of the show has meant that its creators have had to look beyond the standard medical mystery of the week formula to add more depth and development to its principal protagonists.

And while there are soap opera elements (such as the early season relationship between Drs Chase and Cameron), for the most part the show manages to avoid over sentimentalising. Rather, it keeps acerbic wit to the fore, and covers most personal development in darkness.

Thirteen (Olivia Wilde)’s ongoing health problems are layered with subtle nuances that consistently bring out the wilder side of her make-up, while Taub (Peter Jacobson)’s continued difficulties with his wife proved absorbing as well.

The will they/won’t they element to the House/Cuddy relationship also provided plenty of pithy exchanges and a fair few surprises (did anyone really see that last scene coming?), while House’s volatile friendship with Robert Sean Leonard’s ever-excellent Dr Wilson provided plenty of comedy highpoints, as well as some surprisingly complex emotional insights into both men.

The cases of the week also continued to competently, and often rivetingly, offer complex puzzles to solve – both medical and ethical. An early episode, The Tyrant, was particularly effective in uncovering a hidden darkness in Chase, while providing James Earl Jones with a terrific guest appearance.

The Down Low, on the other hand, provided a wonderful moral dilemma for an undercover cop who needed House’s assistance, while David Strathairn typically excelled as a dying patient with a link to House in the brilliant episode, Lock Down.

Edelstein’s determined Dr Cuddy was also given her own episode in which to shine, in the race-against-the-clock one-off, 5 To 9, which provided another of several series highlights – and another example of the show’s willingness to break with formula every now and again to keep viewers on their toes.

Not every episode in the series worked, or gripped… as is the case with many 24-episode seasons. But in the main, Season 6 maintained the high standards of the show, while providing excellent character developments that bode well for the coming seventh season.

Laurie, meanwhile, remained a towering central presence: his conflicted, morose but ultimately caring doc a marvel to behold as more and more layers are peeled away to his intriguing persona.

This was never more apparent than during the emotionally draining – but utterly compelling – season finale, Help Me, which placed Greg in the middle of a collapsed building and desperately trying to save a trapped patient. The resolution to that story not only provided a neat book-end to the season opener, but also posed a number of intriguing questions for the futures of several key characters.

It once again ended another strong season on the highest of highs.

Certificate: 15
No of discs/episodes: 6/21
UK DVD Release: September 27, 2010