By: Marcus Hedenberg ’11, Entertainment Editor
It’s always frustrating to watch a once brilliant TV show deteriorate in quality over the years. Make no mistake, I am a hardcore House fan who has followed the show religiously throughout each season, at least, up until season seven. After all, seven seasons is a monumental feat worth heaps of praise for any show. But alas, it seems pretty evident that House’s glory days are behind it.
It can’t be easy as a writer to keep a show like House fresh after countless episodes, particularly with its “patient-of-the-week” format. I commend the writers for the work they’ve done with the show but inevitably, the well of creativity is running dry.
What’s more infuriating than anything else is the fact that throughout the entire run of the series, House really hasn’t undergone much change as a character at all. Season six started with hopelessness and ended with hope, which was great to be honest, because for the first time, viewers got a glimpse of a happier Dr. House. Unfortunately, season seven did the exact opposite, undoing all the events of season six.
I’m not going to lie. I was pretty excited about the “Huddy” relationship, because being as invested as I was in the series, I felt it was time for House’s luck to change. But surely enough, it didn’t take the writers long to ram that story into the ground and turn the relationship into the frustrating mess that it was.
There were simply far too many ups and downs to keep up with throughout the season. It was a hard season to watch because it just felt so fragmented in terms of structure to the point where it’s now clear the show is falling apart.
Needless to say, the patients got progressively less interesting with each episode. How many times are we going to have to watch someone faint during the intro? Episodes like “The Fix” tried to amp things up by including two patients simultaneously but this only made it worse because now viewers had two uninteresting patients to keep track of.
One of the show’s biggest crimes is diverting the attention of viewers away from a major plot development and turning to a dull and uninspired patient that I honestly couldn’t care less about. “Bombshells” comes to mind because rather than focus on Cuddy’s sudden illness and Houses’s reaction, the episode shifted to a depressed teenage boy with a bleeding problem. Really? I understand there’s a format to follow but it honestly doesn’t have the same impact anymore that it did years ago.
Worse, the drama, which has usually accommodated well for the lackluster and confusing medicine, hasn’t been all too good this season either. House hasn’t been as sharp as usual, which makes the show less entertaining. The team members all got their roles downplayed thanks in large part to House and Cuddy stealing most of the show. But the biggest crime, for which I might have to browbeat the writers for is that Wilson was barely in it AT ALL.
It’s a shame that so much of the time was spent on Huddy because it could have been handled so much better. It’s infuriating just how much Cuddy kept contradicting herself in retrospect. She confesses her love to House at the beginning of the season and claims she does not want him to change, yet she abruptly drops him like a sack of puppies halfway through the season. This felt more like it was done for shock value rather than anything else.
Speaking of shock, it actually felt like a lot of the episodes included shock for the sake of….well, shock. A good example is “Out of the Chute” where House jumps off a balcony. Although we see House’s desperation, we never really feel it because not enough time is spent building up the tension and suspense, and is rather, spent on patients.
Not everything sucked like a steaming pile of dog poop, though (please excuse my immaturity). There were several bright spots, from the emotional season premiere, to wonderfully choreographed musical performance in “Bombshells” to the gut-wrenching and suspenseful scene in “After Hours” in which House performs surgery on himself.
Arguably, “After Hours” was by far the strongest episode of the season, showcasing Hugh Laurie’s superb acting talent, and painting the picture of a truly desperate man who has fallen so far down a pit that he cannot climb back out of.
Another surprisingly strong episode was “The Last Temptation,” which was essentially the swan song to arguably one of the most annoying characters in history of the series – Masters.
Thirteen also made a strong emotional return in “The Dig.” Most of the time, the other doctors don’t get much to do in terms of acting but Olivia Wilde cast great depth into her character and demonstrated amazing range in her acting capabilities.
And then came the series finale, “Moving On.” The show usually works best when the patient’s private life echoes one of the team’s situation and Shoreh Aghdashloo’s character perfectly mirrored House in this episode as she had to choose between an effective treatment that might muddle her razor-sharp mind or losing her lover. This runs parllel with Wilson and Cuddy trying to get House to open up about why he cut his leg open instead of getting help.
It is during the last moments of the finale that House goes completely berserk, and in a brief moment of murderous rage, drives a car straight through Cuddy’s dining room. It’s hard to not feel disappointed that this is how Cuddy’s story ends given that actress Lisa Edelstein won’t be returning next season.
What’s more bothersome, however, is that the show has pretty much jumped the shark at this point. Even for Greg House, the last few moments felt so spontaneously out of character. I can understand some people’s point that crashing through Cuddy’s house was his first purely emotional reaction and that the scene on the island symbolizes House’s mind finally being free but it’s hard for me to come to terms with the manner in which this transition occurred. At no point did he display even the slightest signs of lingering resentment or remorse as he handed a shell-chocked Cuddy her hairbrush.
It’s tiring to have to watch the writers go through the motions of depicting House as a depressed SOB. While last season ended with a glimmer of hope, this season’s ending only reiterated what’s been said for years now – House can’t change.
House has always been able to defend his shortcomings because his ability to save lives always supersedes his major crimes directed at himself. But with prescription drug abuse and felony drug theft, along with domestic abuse and attempted murder on his plate, things have simply gone too far and my suspension of disbelief to accept him as a valid protagonist is fading away.
I know I am being very harsh but the fact is that some of the sloppiest episodes of House are still better than three quarters of the junk out there on television. It’s just sad to see a show decline so steeply in quality.
Despite this, I am still curious to know how next season will pick up. I do sincerely hope season eight is the end because I doubt the show can go on for much longer without people losing interest. I’m realizing I don’t care as much about House as I used to but I hope the producers take the opportunity to end the story decisively.