Welcome to Dissecting House: a blog dedicated to the television show House MD, where analytical reviews of season 8 episodes are posted weekly.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Goodbye House MD

by TV Guide Magazine on Wednesday, 8 February 2012 at 23:03 ·

By Michael Schneider

Fox is locking the doors on House. As had been expected for months, the network has decided that this will be the final season of House on Fox.

And although producer Universal TV maintain the rights to now shop the show elsewhere, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has already said that he wouldn't seek to move it onto his network. Plus, star Hugh Laurie (whose deal expires at the end of this year) has also made it clear in past interviews that he's ready to move on – and perhaps focus on his burgeoning singing career.

Series executive producer David Shore has been asking Fox for months to set an end date for the show, in order to give the hit drama its proper farewell. House remains a solid performer for Fox, averaging a 3.5 rating and 9 share among adults 18-49 (placing it 32nd overall) and 9.1 million viewers. That's why some questioned whether the show would really end its run this year. Universal is said to have pitched hard to keep the show alive, but for now, at least, it appears to be the end of the run.

Beyond Laurie's desire to move on, there's also the fact of the matter that House is now in its eighth season, which means it has evolved into a pricy production – and a network's license fee at this point in the game is usually required to cover the cost of production plus a premium. The show's escalating costs led to a standoff last spring between Fox and Universal over a renewal; a deal was eventually struck, but budget cuts led to the departure of key castmember Lisa Edelstein, among other things.

After last spring's tough re-negotiation, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said it was "pretty likely" that this was its final year. Reilly later told reporters that a concrete decision would be made by mid-fall—but decided to wait a bit longer to see how its new Monday night dramas performed. And although Alcatraz took a dip this week opposite the launch of NBC's The Voice, the J.J. Abrams drama has performed strong for Fox and is a shoo-in for renewal. Fox's new Kiefer Sutherland drama Touch, which debuts its regular run on Mondays next Month, also performed well in its Jan. 25 preview – giving Fox yet another reason to retire House.

"I think we have just been avoiding it, to be honest with you," Reilly said in January at the TV Critics Assn. press tour. "It's hard to imagine the network without House.  And, really, we are all going to sit down. This is not going to be like the pink slip goes out, and that's the end of House.  David and Hugh and the whole crew have been very busy.  They are doing great work… We are going to size everything up.  You know, it's no secret.  Last year, we said it was going to be a close call, and probably it’s the last year, but, honestly, we just simply haven't made the decision."

At the time, Reilly also called the House cast and crew "so professionally, consistently, creatively tenacious.  They are collaborative, responsible.  Hugh is not only a great actor but an incredible leader for his sort of organization.  So it's just really the dream scenario with that show, and that's why it makes it a very hard decision, and, honestly, one that I hope we can make together, and I think we will."

Last fall, a production insider told TV Guide Magazine, "if it's truly over, eight years has been a good run. We'll have finished up with (more than) 175 episodes."

Announcement from HOUSE Executive Producers David Shore, Katie Jacobs and Hugh Laurie

After much deliberation, the producers of House M.D. have decided that this season of the show, the 8th, should be the last.  By April this year they will have completed 177 episodes, which is about 175 more than anyone expected back in 2004.

The decision to end the show now, or ever, is a painful one, as it risks putting asunder hundreds of close friendships that have developed over the last eight years - but also because the show itself has been a source of great pride to everyone involved.

Since it began, House has aspired to offer a coherent and satisfying world in which everlasting human questions of ethics and emotion, logic and truth, could be examined, played out, and occasionally answered.  This sounds like fancy talk, but it really isn’t.  House has, in its time, intrigued audiences around the world in vast numbers, and has shown that there is a strong appetite for television drama that relies on more than prettiness or gun play.
But now that time is drawing to a close.  The producers have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature;  he should never be the last one to leave the party.  How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.
The producers can never sufficiently express their gratitude to the hundreds of dedicated artists and technicians who have given so generously of their energy and talent to make House the show it has been - and perhaps will continue to be for some time, on one cable network or another.
The makers of House would also like to thank Fox Broadcasting and Universal Television for supporting the show with patience, imagination and large quantities of good taste.  The Studio-As-Evil-Adversary is one of the many clich├ęs that House has managed to avoid, and for that the cast and crew are deeply grateful.
Lastly, the audience:  some have come and some have gone, obviously.  This is to be expected in the life of any show.  But over the course of the last eight years, the producers of House have felt immensely honored to be the subject of such close attention by an intelligent, discriminating, humane and thoughtful - not to mention numerous - audience.  Even the show's detractors have been flattering in their way.  Making the show has felt like a lively and passionate discussion about as many different subjects as could possibly be raised in 177 hours.  The devotion and generosity of our viewers has been marvelous to behold.
So, finally, everyone at House will bid farewell to the audience and to each other with more than a few tears, but also with a deep feeling of gratitude for the grand adventure they have been privileged to enjoy for the last eight years.  If the show lives on somewhere, with somebody, as a fond memory, then that is a precious feat, of which we will always be proud.
Everybody Lies.

While it’s with much regret, and a lump in our throats, we respect the decision Hugh, David and Katie have made.  A true original, on the page and amazingly brought to life by Hugh Laurie, there is only one Dr. House.  For eight seasons, the entire HOUSE team has given us – and fans around the world – some of the most compelling characters and affecting stories ever seen on television.  They have been creatively tenacious and collaborative throughout this incredible run, and they are amongst the most superior talents in the business.  For all the above, we wholeheartedly thank them, and the fans who have supported the show.

Hugh Laurie

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

'Nobody's Fault' Episode Review

The hand writing on the wall

There has been serious buzz around this episode for at least the past two weeks. Now I know why. The episode exudes Housian understanding and adopts a non-formulaic style appropriate for such a huge character centric plot. The episode opens with dramatic still shots of blood, syringes, fallen flowers and balloons, giving us an eerie indication that something has gone terribly wrong. The episode takes the format of a trial, and in Kafkaesque form, we are in the dark about what happened and the reason for the questioning. House is at risk of having his parole revoked and being sent back to jail. Dr. Cofield is in charge of House's fate and questions House's methods of differential diagnosis, asking the team members whether his games are the cause of the dramatic event with severe consequences. Notably Chase is missing during this process. The story moves fluidly from past to present from person to person. 

Dr. Cofield says that "I know you'd like to make it about me, because then it wouldn't be about you." House is usually very extrovert and likes to be the centre of attention, but not when it comes to his emotions. He will do anything to escape having to deal with how he feels, especially when it concerns others.

The initial POTW is a chemistry teacher who collapses during a run. Very relevantly, he is admitted because of paralysis. As usual House diagnoses with treatment and is aware that the patient could have a psychotic break. However, Chase agrees with Adams and believes that a biopsy of the patient's rash is necessary as it is the cause of his condition. His decision is a key point of the episode. Did he defy House to win a game, because that is the frame of mind they have become so accustomed to? The POTW's paranoia is triggered by Adams's syringe and
he attacks Chase with a scalpal, slicing an artery in his heart and almost killing him in an extremely tense and dramatic scene. Chase survives but discovers that he is paralysed and may never walk again.

Lightheartedly House paints himself in an angelic position of innocence, in a scene of heavenly light because "good things usually happen, bad things sometimes happen" and it is nobody's fault. However, House doesn't really believe that no one is to blame. He doesn't blame his team and they don't blame him (although more than once they say "He's not wrong" instead of he's right, implying great results rather than method). House blames himself. He tries to pretend he doesn't care but Chase explains to Dr. Cofield that asking about the other patient while Chase is on the brink of death and then paralysis is his way of checking on him without admitting to it. It's an extremely poignant moment at the end of the episode when House says "I'm sorry". I believe he's sorry about what happened to him but I think he genuinely feels guilty that what happened was his fault. Importantly, the games they play lead to the epiphany House has about the diagnosis of the patient, "two explosions". The chemistry explosion that caused the paralysis led to a second explosion of tumorous cells. Chase was the one who rigged the Vicodin bottle. This reflects the fact that unusual and unorthodox methods lead House to the correct diagnosis.

It is interesting to note that the episode really begins with House looking in the mirror, reflecting about his role in this "fiasco". The episode is shot in very dark lighting to emphasize the dark and dramatic plot in an atomosphere which is further created by heavy rain (sadness, tears). At the end the rain stops and the trial room is flooded with light and is empty, premptive of the notion that House is not sentenced and so in essence it was nobody's fault. However, the team (minus Chase) is there to support House. The patient's wife heavily influences the verdict when she says that House was right about her husband. House calls Dr. Cofield a coward, because he let his heart be softened by a happy ending. There is no happy ending. Chase is left in an agony that House can understand. In a role reversal House apologises while Chase tells him he's busy, angry but not letting House believe it was all his fault. They have a deep friendship and House knows how much Chase looks up to him. House looks incredibly disappointed that he has hurt Chase, and that Chase now suffers (leg pain, as House does) in such a debilitating way.

It is extremely hard to choose specific aspects of the episode to focus on because the entire episode was a masterpiece. These are just some of the scenes that really stood out for me. The emotion, the drama, the language, the slight threading of humour into darkness which is incredibly difficult. Extremely well written, directed and executed by the actors, especially Jesse Spencer as Chase who really showed both physical and emotional pain. "None of this is fun House". Best of the season so far in my opinion.