After spending five seasons with a medical procedural drama, any normal show would be comfortable with little to no development from episode to episode. But this is House M.D. we’re talking about and after the shake-up of core cast members left Dr. Gregory House with a new team, I’ve come to expect only the best from the creative team behind television’s best medical drama. The sixth season of the Hugh Laurie led series delivers even above the highest expectations right from the start of the two-hour season premiere through some of the most innovative episodes of the entire series leading to a a most desired romance that will have dedicated fans jumping for joy. Unlike the strange illnesses that plague House every episode, it’s no mystery that season six of House M.D. is one of the best. Find out why after the jump.
When we join Dr. House, we’re far away from Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital and the only familiar, gruff face is troubled and struggling after voluntarily admitting himself to a mental hospital. House is detoxing himself, and it’s just as bad as we’ve seen before. He’s disoriented and sweaty and this time no one is there to help him. Even if there was, the help House needs this time is for his heart and mind. Enter Dr. Daryl Nolan (Andre Braugher of The Mist) who aims to help House overcome his problems by becoming one of them. When House thinks he’s healthy enough to go home, Nolan schemes (though not vindictively) to keep him admitted by way of threatening his status as a practicing doctor by way of an unfavorable mental health review. House is left with no choice by to comply and truly make some progress emotionally and mentally. The season premiere serves as a catalyst for House’s recovery throughout the entire rest of the season.
Though rehabilitation is certainly a prominent and welcome theme, there’s still plenty of sarcastic, witty and dry humor from House. Even though he’s making progress, his team still has plenty of drama to allow for House’s manipulative games, snide remarks and more. The general source of drama this season amongst our favorite doctors comes from hiccups in their love lives. Chase, Cameron, Thirteen, Taub, Foreman and even Wilson have their romances tested (Cynthia Watros of Lost debuts on the series for an extended arc as Wilson’s ex-wife). While some blossom, others crumble spectacularly with such finality and impact. Without spoiling anything, all these romances are only small steps (and likely lessons to learn) for one particular romance that tops off quite the dramatic and romantic season.
With a procedural show like this, it’s easy to start feeling comfortable in knowing what to expect from every episode. Not only does the season premiere shake things up a bit, but a few really fantastic episodes scattered throughout the season really spice things up a bit. Rather than focusing solely on House and his team (and the drama and conflict that results from the weekly medical mystery) two episodes particularly stand out as magnificent spin-offs of the series itself.
One particular episode aptly entitled Wilson, makes House’s longtime friend and colleague the resident diagnostic doctor of the episode as he sets out to figure out why an old friend and former patient of his exhibits paralysis in his right arm. House provides running commentary and sarcasm on Wilson’s decisions both in medicine and in life in only the way a best friend like House can. Aside from House’s spot-on analysis of Wilson’s difficulty to separate work from emotions and friend from patient, seeing Wilson work so passionately with House’s team is certainly something to admire and marvel.
Later in the season, a similar episode takes the focus away from House in 5 to 9, a long day in the life of Princeton-Plainsboro Dean of Medicine Lisa Cuddy. Though we may never really know if everyday in Cuddy’s professional and personal life is as stressful as this, we finally get a taste for her activities and hard work outside of dealing with House’s crazy medicinal methods. In this episode we get a look at House and his team’s work every so briefly in small and funny tidbits. From their patient crashing and being rushed down the hallway with Foreman straddling the stretcher, defibrillator in hands, to the standard last minute revelation cut short by elevator doors closing. It’s quite a brilliant crafted and wholly unique episode, and may be one of the best in the entire series run.
But just because two of the best episodes of the season don’t follow House, doesn’t mean the series has lost its focus. One of the other stellar episodes in season six sees Hugh Laurie step behind the camera as director. Lockdown, which feels like a series of one-act plays contained within the same set, puts Princeton-Plainsboro on alert as a newborn baby has gone missing and all patients, doctors and visitors must be confined to their current areas until the baby is found. While Cuddy, nurses and security search for the baby, Cameron and Chase find themselves confronting each other in unexpected ways, #13 and Wilson have a fun game of truth or dare, Taub and Foreman spend some time in the hospital records room and House finds himself spending the time with a man who is mere moments away from death played spectacularly by guest star David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck). The episode is more of a character piece than the usual medical procedural, and Laurie directs it beautifully.
All in all, season six pushes all the right buttons and continues to display why House M.D. is the best medical drama on television. Never afraid to make big changes to the cast and its dynamic, the writers should be proud to be writing one of the best leading characters currently on air, while still having the creative wits to have him step back and let the supporting cast share the spotlight for a couple episodes that turned out magnificently.
This season set is a little light on the extras, but there is one short, but sweet look behind the scenes as Hugh Laurie makes his directorial debut this season.
- Bonus Featurettes:
- Before “Broken”
- A Different POV – Hugh Laurie Directs
- New Faces in a New House
- A New House for House
- Episode Commentary on the following episodes
- “Broken” by Katie Jacobs, Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner
- “5-to-9″ by Lisa Edelstein and Thomas L. Moran
- “Wilson” by Robert Sean Leonard and David Foster, M.D.
THE FINAL WORD: House M.D. delivers one of its best seasons yet, but the finale creates quite a high expectation for season seven. With some truly original and insightful episodes, this season set is a must-have for any true fan of House, and a must-see for anyone eager to keep up with the best medical drama on television. Oh, and in case you’re wondering. It’s not.