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This House Needs a Bit of Renovation
on 28 September 2009
As season five of House MD. Grinds to a halt, series six is already due to be shown on our UK screens merely weeks after it began in the US. This may be due to the power advantage that Sky1 has over the show's previous UK recipients FIVE. Not everyone has Sky1, whereas most people with a decent television reception, even without digital can receive FIVE. This may be one reason that the show's ratings have suffered this time around. But more to this reviewer it seems more likely that the show is in need of a transfusion of creativity. (I have done my best to review this season without spoiling the major shocks, plot twists, etc.)
The show picks up straight from where season 4 left off, with House (Hugh Laurie) and Wilson's (Robert Sean Leonard) friendship now in pieces following Amber's death. House being who he is hires a private investigator to keep an eye on Wilson's activities. These first two episodes are by far the weakest of the series, as the chemistry that existed between Wilson and House is evaporated. Hugh Laurie doesn't even look as though his heart is in it for these first two episodes, which is quite disheartening. The PI that House hires (played by Michael Weston) is a failure. He is badly written and he fails to gel properly with House on screen. He seems like he was simply added to try and create a character for a spin-off. Which is exactly what he was brought in for, although how such a simultaneously bland and irritating character could generate an entire series is baffling.
The good news is that the series gets better after this below par start. Many will be pleased to know that there is more from Cameron and Chase this time around, even if all they do is provide a bit of on-off relationship angst. Speaking of relationships, the House/Cuddy situation threatens to turn into something more interesting than the usual chemistry the two have. The disappointing thing is that after the drama over her adoption saga, she pretty much disappears until the penultimate episode. And without wishing to divulge too much of the plot to those who have not yet seen the series, another relationship begins between two main characters that is devoid of both credibility and chemistry. The actors are both decent, but it's just a shame that the writers wrote them such a mundane and unrealistic relationship that no one will really care about.
Now some of the readers of this review may be wondering why I have given this product 3 stars whilst criticising it so much. Well, this is because the series is still good. When the writers add in new scenarios and situations for House and the cast, the unpredictability makes the episode a lot more interesting. The complex medical conundrums are still expertly done, with some extremely good guest appearances from Meat Loaf, Zeljko Ivanek (from Damages - Season 1 [DVD] , playing a manic gunman who demands treatment) and Mos Def. The latter is particularly impressive in the episode `Locked In', where much of the episode is seen from his perspective, as a patient incapacitated by Locked In Syndrome. In terms of acting, the standard has pretty much stayed the same. Emotion is conveyed convincingly by all the actors, the strongest remain Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein as Dr. Cuddy. At times though, it does feel like the writers are struggling to include all the characters in the plot. Foreman hardly says or does anything until the middle of the series, and then he promptly fades back out again.
All in all, this may not have been the medical maverick's finest series. However, the positive news is that season 6 has been set up for an interesting new development in Gregory House's story by the finale of season 5, which should provide a radical new direction for at least the first few episodes of the series. Perhaps this drop in quality will be looked down on as a transition from something more conventional to something a lot more daring. House is still a strong and reliably good drama, but there definitely needs to be an injection of new blood in order to keep the show at the top of its game.