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Maybe the beginning of the end..... (Spoilers included!)
on 14 February 2011
The excellent finale to Season 5 is followed up here with a quite brilliant 2-part season opener, after which I was raving to my friends about how incredible it is that House could still be this good despite being into its sixth season.
Sadly, after that it all goes a bit wrong. There is a major mid-seaon slump here, with a run of average-at-best episodes which are the definition of the word 'filler'. The episode '5 to 9', focussing exclusively on Cuddy, is possibly my least favourite episode to date - basically an episode of House with hardly any House in it.
In the end, it is left to Hugh Laurie (as always) to save the day, this time by making his directorial debut on 'Lockdown', which finally brings a run of pretty poor episodes to an end, and from then on the final few episodes are of a reasonably high standard. Unfortunately the writers were not able to muster an ending to match the incredible season 5 finale, and it ends worryingly with Cuddy and House getting together - how many shows have gone off the rails once a will-they-won't-they relationship comes to fruition? I find that for the first time, I am not that excited to see the next season, largely because I am not very interested to see the Cuddy/House relationship played out. Personally, I thought the will-they-won't-they ended with a perfect 'they definitely won't' at the end of Season 5 and am a bit disappointed that it has been resurrected. Now there are two options: either it will work out between them, which I think will be pretty dull, or it won't - which I think could be interesting if, for example, it results in Cuddy leaving and a new Dean of Medicine being appointed. I think if they split up and then carry on as before it will be too unfeasible. Sadly, I am not sure that the writers really have the courage to make such a major change. On a similar note, I think the writers have a decision to make regarding Foreman: either develop his character and give him some decent storylines (but please not getting back with Thirteen!) or get rid of him. I think Omar Epps is a really strong actor but his character just seems to be hanging around doing nothing.
One glimmer of light was an incipient storyline involving Thirteen which is intriguing, and I look forward to seeing where that goes more than I do to seeing House and Cuddy playing at happy families.
So, to sum up: there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that House can get back to top form if the writers/producers are prepared to make some genuinely bold moves - I am just not sure that they will, and my gut tells me that this Season is the beginning of the end for House. I hope very much that I am wrong!