House, M.D.: Season 8
Even the most popular television series eventually comes to a point where the network will issue the dreaded notice of cancellation. Some shows are given this lethal proclamation too early, before it has an opportunity to find its narrative and catch on. Others seem to drag out beyond and modicum of originality and its demise is a relief for fans. Then there are the rare examples such as the one sited here, House, M.D.’ the eight season had been deemed its last which did afford the cast and writers and the fans a realistic chance for some closure in the various open stories and the emotional development of the characters. The series had survived several major cast changes that in most other series would have propelled the series rapidly over the proverbial shark. Along with the modifications in the central characters there were a number of thematic modifications inserted in the texture of the series in an attempt to keep it acceptably novel in the eyes of the viewers. For ‘House’ there was a concerted effort on the part of those involved to give the series a proper and respectful send off. As such in reviewing the final season of the show such intensions must be included in the ultimate assessment. For eight years ‘House, M.D.’ helped to reinvent one of the oldest genres in television in the shadow of one of literature’s best known and respected detectives, Sherlock Holmes. The synthesis of a medical television series with a classic detective mystery was a leap for such well defined types of stories but this series not only accomplished this goal it did so with a touch of panache .Although it is lamentable that the series is over at least it was afforded a proper conclusion that retain the offbeat foundation that served the character rather well over the last eight years. The year was odd, almost surrealistic or surreal but as fans of the series will attest it was true to the context of the series and the internal integrity of the characters. Here’s to Gregory House, MD., one of the most peculiar physicians ever to be the subject of a television series.
Gregory House is a doctor of unapproachable credentials. He is a genius by any means of assessing such matters and widely considered the world’s best diagnostician. He can deduce from the slightest symptoms the disease, syndrome of injury that is causing the patient’s distress. He is also one of the most unlikable excuses for a human being who ever lived. He is narcissistic to an unbelievable degree and somewhat anachronistically self destructive. For a man that is so enraptured by his own brilliance he does everything possible to destroy his own life and make anyone in his vicinity as miserable as possible. A description once applied to a literary genius Lord Byron springs to mind with House; "Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know." The excuse given within the context of the series for his continued employment is his unparallel genius and amazing ability to diagnose diseases no other doctors can handle. Still, in the real world the hospital’s legal department would have stormed his office with torches and pitchforks a long time ago.
As this final season House is back in prison. Having broken his parole last season to solve a case he is finishing out his sentence. Still, with so much on the line he cannot help himself but to insert himself in a case of a fellow inmate present to the facility’s visiting physician, Dr. Jessica Adams (Odette Annable). She becomes intrigued by House; you usually don’t see other doctors in this setting let alone ones as brilliant as House. Eventually House is released into the custody of the new Dean of Medicine, Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), one of his original team now his boss. Foreman agrees to bring House back but with an ankle monitor and an exceptionally short administrative leash. House has lost his office and his team has moved on so he receives a makeshift work area and a greatly reduced team. Adams is very wealthy and agrees to work for free just to observe House. He is also provided the services of a petite young doctor, Dr. Chi Park (Charlyne Yi), who is under disciplinary review for punching her previous boss. Eventually two of his previous team returns, Dr. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson). This offered a new character dynamic now that the ongoing sexual banter between House and his previous boss, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) has become a bridge well incinerated and unrecoverable. They almost wrote themselves into a corner by removing the finally realized love interest for House but they did recover the emotional momentum in a rather unorthodox fashion.
There were the usual assortment of bizarre cases for House and his erstwhile followers but in many ways this ultimate season was not really about them. House’s uncanny ability to deduce a rare illness from a seemingly unrelated set of clues and symptoms has already been exceptionally well established. A core element of House’s personality is to solve puzzles. His sole criterion for selecting a case has always been how it intrigued him rather than the urgency to the patient’s life. The medical mysteries served as connective tissue holding the episodes together providing the growth medium for the story to head towards the awaited final episode. The emotional core of this season is House’s longest lasting and closest to stable relationship; his best friend, Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), chairman of the department of Oncology. He was the John Watson to House’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. In a final sense of dark irony the man who fought cancer and emotionally supported his patient’s last days has fallen victim to the disease he spent his life fighting.
More than any previous season this final one was concerned with the interaction of the emotional and psychological components of the characters personalities. Wilson has always been the one person that House could depend upon to be there for him, his only true, steadfast friend. Although that relationship has been tested in the extreme House and Wilson were there for each other. Now that Wilson was facing the undoubtedly the most intense and dire circumstance possible, his own mortality, he has pushed House away. At one point Wilson chooses to forgo treatment in order to avoid the side effects and live his remaining time by enjoying it. House is unable to accept this resorting to his usual behavior or trickery to get his way. While this is playing out Forman proves once again to be a match for understanding House, at least to the extent humanly possible and manages to direct House to somewhat productive use of his talent. Another strange dynamic is created between the rich and beautiful Adams and the short, unattractive Park, this interaction often mirrors the unorthodox yet strangely functional relationship between House and Wilson. By the last episodes both Taub and Chase have redefined themselves personally and professionally so that by that final reveal that closes the eight year run their stories are nicely tied up. The end is almost surreal which is perfectly befitting the series and completely within character. The series will be missed but it went out in a fitting fashion.