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STUDIO: Universal Studios
RUNNING TIME: 972 Minutes
• Dr. House
• Medical Cases
• Set Tour
• Casting Session with Hugh Laurie
Many of you out there know Hugh Laurie. He’s there in the back of your minds, waiting to leap out when you least expect it. Some of you may know him from his role as Jasper from the live action 101 Dalmatians. More recently you might have seen him in the remake of The Flight of the Phoenix. Or maybe you remember him as Poirot from your most certain favorite film in the world, Spice World. Others of you might recognize Hugh Laurie as the Geena Davis lovin’ Mr. Frederick Little from the 1999 smash hit Stuart Little. "You mean that’s the guy?", you ask? That’s right. That’s Hugh Laurie and I just happen to know him from an ever so growing television hit show on FOX called House, M.D.
"The hot one! Not the one with the saggy boobs that will flop in my face while she administrates CPR."
To start, I’m going to be frank with you. I am a recovering House, M.D. hater. I’ll admit that from the very start. Maybe it’s because I jumped on the show late and missed out on some important character development that would help in understanding the show on a higher level. Considering how packed to the gills the last TV season was (this year is 10 times worse, by the way) it’s not surprising that I had to miss out on something. House, M.D. was the show that I had to send out to pasture and I have friends that raved on about the show as I continued to doubt their opinions about it. After many months I continued to stand my ground and refused to move things around in order to watch it. My TiVo simply couldn’t handle any more material. So, in order to prove my feelings about the show true, I took this set for review.
Boy was I wrong about this one.
Dr. Gregory “House” (Laurie) is a physician at The Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital (located in the Mercer County area of New Jersey). Dr. House (or "House" for short) specializes in solving medical cases that focus on infectious diseases. In the pilot episode a team of three young and aspiring doctors are brought on one by one to work under the supervision of Dr. House. House meets all three of them with resistance, and we discover that part of this is due to his recluse attitude. House’s vicodin popping addition plays a part in this as well, but that’s another story. I will tell you though that the vicodin is bridge between House and the pain he has while maneuvering the hospital ward with the assistance of his black cane.
Getting back to the trio, the first off is Dr. Eric Foreman (no, not “That’s” Eric Foreman) played by the underappreciated Omar Epps (Dracula 2000, Love & Basketball, Major League II). As a neurologist, Foreman’s specialty is dealing with the nervous system and disorders affecting it. Foreman’s feelings for House and his work ethic fluctuate throughout the season, as there are a number of times were we see Dr. Foreman and House disagree on how to ethically treat their patients. Most of the time this is dealt with in a humorous manner, but there are a number of times when things get very tense between the two, to the point where Foreman begins to “tattle tell” on House. An example of a humorous moment between the two characters is when House reveals to Dr. Foreman that the reason he hired him was because he saw that he had once been charged for stealing a car. Now the average viewer/person would find this offensive since Dr. Foreman is a black man, but in the world of House, M.D. this makes complete sense and is something to actually laugh about. House is just that right type of bastard that can get away with saying something like this. Yet there is an underlying message behind the humor and we learn that House has hired these people for their damage and not for their strengths. More on that later.
It’s quite sad how Sally thought she had a heads up on all of the other girls at her school when she discovered what she thought was a picture of a penis in her biology textbook.
Second in line is Dr. Allison Cameron portrayed by the lovely Jennifer Morrison (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Stir of Echoes). Dr. Cameron’s specialty is in immunology and it seems that Dr. Cameron is immune to a few things of her own; like talking about her past. (I apologize now for the bad word association.) House sees this “flaw” and exploits it for his own good on a number of occasions. In one early episode Dr. Cameron appears to be overwhelmed with the number of babies becoming ill in the hospital and Dr. House takes a moment to speak to her after she reluctantly chooses not to tell two patients some news regarding their child’s health. Cameron doesn’t come out and say what it is in her past that caused her to refuse the order, but we get an idea of what it is. (We later learn exactly what it is.) In a weird twist of psychology, this reveal pulls Cameron closer to her work and she becomes adamant on solving the case. Often the problem with Cameron is that she often sees the patients as people whereas House usually always sees the patients as problems. This is where the two are different from one another as doctors and as people. Over time this difference pulls Cameron and House together.
Third comes Dr. Robert Chase played by Jesse Spencer (Uptown Girls). After some reflecting, I find Chase to be the most mysterious character out of the main crew. We do learn quite a lot about Chase, but much of it goes on unexplained or we don’t see how his past affects him in everyday life. We discover that Chase’s father is a famous doctor who has cancer and we also learn that there is some animosity between the two due to Chase’s father never being around when he was a child. Yet we never quite figure out what makes Chase tick and most of the time we see Chase as an over privileged kid. But believe me, there are still many moments throughout the season when we see Chase stand up for something he believes in allowing his personality (and sometimes past) to shine through.
As for the rest of the crew there is Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), the hospital’s administrator and Dr. James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), the hospital’s oncologist. (Both doctors are on the board of directors.) Cuddy’s main purpose in this season seems to keep House in check. This is almost always done in a humorous manner such as the two making bets that House can’t do something, which in turn usually has House winning or losing the opportunity to pass on his general rounds with patients. Later on things get a little more serious when a millionaire, Edward Vogler (Chi McBride), takes control of the hospital and is hell-bent on seeing House permanently absent from the building. The lovely Sela Ward makes a late appearance in the season during last two episodes and House’s relationship with Ward’s character sets the stage for a number of events to happen in the second season of the show.
All possible side effects when taking Dr. Cameron out on a night on the town.
What’s unfortunate for this show is it’s allowing of House to figure out nearly every single case during the season. There are moments when the exploits on House’s team (which plays a major role in the shows premise) seem to go a little too far, but it’s all in the good of healing the patient. Believe me, a number of the people on board get their occasional moments of glory, but it would be nice to see more of someone doing most of the footwork figure out a case every now and then on their own. But then I guess the show is called House, M.D. for a reason now isn’t it?
In the long run, it’s House being such a sarcastic and snide bastard that makes him so damn lovable. I mean come on, who doesn’t love a good bastard every now and then? House does have his moments when he lets his guard down, but those moments are totally controlled and used to manipulate others into giving him what he wants. It’s all about House and there’s nothing wrong with that. Hugh Laurie makes House a tour de force to reckon with and I can’t see the show working without him behind the wheel. (I certainly hope I’m not the only person that gets a strange Patrick McGoohan vibe from Laurie either.) Laurie injects just the right amount of passion into the character that we can see that House really does care about his patients and that he does really care that his students are learning something from their experiences on the job.
All in all, House, M.D. goes in a round about way to show viewers that all of us are damaged in some sort of way and that we all can embrace that damage and come out the other side as a better person that has the ability do incredible things. The show doesn’t come right out and say that in an “afternoon special” sort of way, but it’s very easy to see if you’re paying close enough attention to it.
This show is what something like Medical Investigation should have aspired to become.
9.0 out of 10
What a typical Monday feels like for me.
Each episode gets the widescreen treatment, which is a highly welcomed sight from this end. The camera moments and framing give the show a unique episodic feel which shows that FOX just isn’t throwing some money at the show hoping it will do well. (Actually, they might be doing just that, but they haven’t cancelled the show yet so the crew must be doing something just right in order to avoid the never-ending FOX cancellation cleaver.)
In terms of video quality, the colors are crisp and the ridiculously modern looking hospital sets shine with this transfer. I feel that this is a show that would work great as a test display for your high-tech setup (if you’re privileged enough to have one).
9.0 out of 10
On a basic setup this show sounds pretty damn good. The usual hospital ambience is included (duh) and the show doesn’t go too overboard with the music when it is included. For the most part, the sound design on House, M.D. makes you feel that you are confined within the modernly designed facility and that you are standing right there next to the characters.
8.5 out of 10
The diet of a CHUD Message Board Power Poster.
As for extra features, this set isn’t nearly as packed as I wish it was. Where’s the actor commentary? That’s something I would have loved to see on certain episodes.
Much of the included extra material comes off as random fluff that seems like it was thrown together at the last minute to fit the remainder of the disc. There are a number of interviews regarding the concept of the show, including some reflection by Executive Producer Brian Singer (X-Men 1 & 2, Superman Returns). Also included is a set tour hosted by House, M.D. cast members Jennifer Morrison and Lisa Edelstein. Next come “Medical Cases”, which is a look into some of the unique stories that have seen their way in a number of episodes. After that is “HOUSE-isms” a survey over a collection of Dr. House’s witty radical-based dialogue that the show is known for sprinkling throughout each episode. And finally, there’s a casting session with Hugh Laurie which masterfully demonstrates the ease that Laurie has of flipping some internal switch and speaking with a soft English accent to then speaking with the hard edge, sarcastic tone we know Dr. House for.
6.0 out of 10
"You mean I actually have to pay to work here?"
Beautiful. There’s something about this packaging that screams out to me, especially when you open the first fold and there they are… the cast of House, M.D. staring down (or up in most cases) at you from a patients POV. Also, the artwork on the sleeve that the set comes in is different than the artwork on the inside packaging. It’s only slightly different, but it’s enough for one to notice and appreciate. I am subtracting a half point for the ridiculous use of quotes on the back of the packaging, though.
9.5 out of 10