House M.D. has been around for a while and it's in that awkward part of a show's journey where it is struggling for longevity. The series has survived cast changes aplenty, lengthy pieces of story that worked (and didn't), and we've seen a lot of growth in its main cast as the writers finally settled in beyond the "case of the week" mentality. Sure the seventh season still has a quirky medical mystery as its force of gravity, but the character drama continues to be the big draw. That, and House is an ass, and that's always entertaining.
The sixth season of House left things on an interesting note, as most season finales do. House (Hugh Laurie) had just made it through a traumatic experience when helping a woman in a collapsed building. Just when things seemed their bleakest Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) showed up to lick his wounds with a little sexual healing. It was a step forward for their characters because prior to this point they've merely flirted and there were always teases of a potential relationship between them. Well, that fruit has ripened here in the seventh season. Is it sweet? Or bitter?
I don't think I need to tell you that hooking two major characters up is often a cry of desperation for television shows. Things usually go down hill at that point as the newfound bliss is jarring for viewers and the cast's chemistry. Granted that's not always the case, and when looking at House there are definitely some plusses and minuses.
The majority of this season sees House learning how not to be an ass as he wants to keep tapping Cuddy's. It's a fine line for him as he juggles moral decisions, what lies to tell, and he tests the waters of just how far he's willing to go behind Cuddy's back before his newfound sense of guilt and emotion sneak in. One of the most compelling things about House this season is the internal struggle as he's clearly afraid of screwing things up with Cuddy, even though he knows he's eventually going to disappoint. There's also the added benefit of watching him interact with Cuddy's kid. If you think that's a weak point just picture a man of House's intellect matching wits with a two year old and sifting through soiled diapers with chopsticks looking for loose change. It's classic.
What didn't work for me was the majority of the pillow-talk that took place between Cuddy and House. There was emotional foreplay and arguments that were less dramatic or necessary to the plot and development, and those really felt like lulls. Thankfully they are hurdles the show inevitably overcomes and though House and Cuddy are the main attraction this season, the writers focused on the strong support characters to balance them out.
Foreman (Omar Epps), Taub (Peter Jacobson), and Chase (Jesse Spencer) are left as a sausage wielding trio as they deal with case after case in the absence of Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) who departs by the end of the first episode. Chase deals with his life post-Cameron by sleeping with as many women as possible, and one amusing episode has a lovely lady exacting revenge on him by posting tiny penis pictures of him online. Taub continues to have problems with his wife and eventually goes through a divorce of his own. Foreman, well...Foreman remains a rigid solitary man, but loosens up a bit with Taub and even invites him in to be a roommate.
The greatest change this season is the introduction of Masters (Amber Tamblyn), who is a young med student with an IQ that rival's House's. She's essentially a Doogie Howser-like goodie-goodie with an optimistic view of the world and a sense of morality. Just think about how that meshes with House's pessimistic and bleak take on life, the universe, and everything. There are some great moments as the two clash, and even better ones between Masters and the rest of House's team. At the beginning she's chum in a pool full of sharks.
Ultimately House's seventh season is an experimental one. I didn't become a huge House/Cuddy, but the writers eventually ironed out the kinks revolving around their relationship. The addition of Masters helps the show's roster, and the focus on the rest of the cast really fleshed the show out. Then again House's team has been a driving force for quite some time. If you've been a fan of the show since the beginning, this season will continue to entertaining. What's in store for the season eight? Lord only knows at this point!
House Season Seven is presented on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. Like the previous seasons of the show, this is one sharp and vibrant transfer. Granted textures, skin tones, and black levels aren't quite as refined as they are on the Blu-ray release, but the DVD gets by just fine. Details are plentiful and ultimately the best thing to say for it is that it mirrors the prior seasons. House is a great looking show with a wonderful presentation.
Good, but not as impressive as the video, is the sound package in House. English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is the name of the game and likewise the sound is on par with prior seasons. The audio is crisp, clean, and decently presented though don't expect a bombastic track with great use of the soundstage. There's some light ambient noise and the rear channels are used mostly for the music. The majority of the show is front-centric and serviceable.
Bonus features for this season include three audio commentaries for episodes "Bombshells", "Moving On", and "The Dig". They are a little on the bland side, though with the inclusion of a mix of cast and crew they are definitely different. On the production, or show focused side of things, there is a feature called "Meet Martha Masters: Introducing Amber Tamblyn's Influential Yet Neurotic Character", which goes into Masters and Tamblyn's arrival on the show. "Huddy Dissected: House and Cuddy, a Behind-the-Scenes Look at the New Couple" is another featurette that is exactly what it sounds like. More cast comments on a portion of the show; this one being about the relationship.
In addition to these features there is "Anatomy of an Episode: Bombshells", which offers a look at scenes from that episode. "Thirteen Returns: Olivia Wilde comes back as Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley", if you wanted to see more Wilde than what you caught on the show and some impressions of her.
House Season Seven is everything one could hope to receive from the show. It's insane, touching, hilarious, and downright fun to watch. Sure House loses some of his "edge" in this season, but the strength of the support characters really comes through. As a fan of the show I'm really looking forward to seeing what's in store for the eighth season and highly recommend this release to those with a House addiction.
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