House Season 5 Review

The Season

There's little as fascinating as the destruction of beauty or brilliance. To see the best of ourselves lost in its innate frailty, now who doesn't enjoy gawping at that? For his fifth season the erratic, brilliant and irascible Gregory House MD descends into delusions of happiness before finally succumbing to the very human qualities that he decries in his colleagues and patients week in and week out.

For a show from the most predictable of TV genres, the medical drama, to deconstruct itself and its key characters as much as House has done is quite remarkable. Despite being reliant on a repetition of key elements, the programme has sought to knock down and rebuild its foundations at regular intervals. Every week it keeps to its pattern - the opening teaser will throw up a victim of a mystery ailment, complete with CGI animation, and every week House will solve the mystery illness in or around the thirty eight minute of the show. The tension will dissolve with the reveal into a song based montage to let the cynicism of the hero fade, and occasionally a development in the longer running stories of the man and his crew will suggest that changes are ahead.
The rude pigheaded Greg will always fight authority, friends and his underlings. He will take endless risks and insult anyone who tries to stop him, and even those who ask for his help. In season five, he will desecrate family funerals, he will insult people with dreams and principles, and he will even engineer the potential death of a regular. He will blame parents for their child's suicide, he will insult other's lifestyles and reveal the most personal elements of their lives to others just to keep his intellect busy.

This will happen much as it did in seasons one to four. House has been shot, rejected, assaulted and deserted by all those who end up caring. Yet still through addiction, through breakdown, he is still here and we still care - House the series remains a hit because of House the man. The writers have removed his drugs, his cane, his friends, his disability, his self respect and, here, his sanity. The show has exhausted soap operas of hospital politics, personal loyalties, sex and morality. Despite overhauled casts and characters, mid season crises, two parters and now true madness, House remains House.
The Sherlock Holmes of modern medicine continues to say the worst and the best things. He continues to cross into the illegal and the immoral, and this reviewer, like his team, is desperate for the thrill of it all even now. This is because the slow burn of a flawed genius is quite an experience, the medic who can't cure himself behaves like we may want to if we thought we could get away with it, and he remains, at heart, miserable, lonely, and pathetic despite all his brilliance.

Gregory House, and Hugh Laurie's note perfect performance of arrogance and acerbic wit, remains the most important subject for dissection in a show not really about the medical but the medical man. The basic paradox of House's ability to cure seeming to be predicated on his own unhappiness has been examined closer than any lead character I can think of in modern TV, and the fact that this remains a subject worthy of your interest is down to both Laurie and the writing.
As much as the character of House has always been fond of going back to the beginning in his diagnosis, so have the writers enjoyed returning to the principle of the miserable medic, and season five concludes with the man at his most brilliant and his most unwell. It will be fascinating to see how a potentially cured or happy House could keep us watching or whether he has even further to fall in his self-destructiveness in season six. Season five though is as good an example of TV drama as you could hope to see, long may House be miserable as he is the most fascinating subject for treatment around.

Technical Specs

Universal include all 24 episodes in anamorphic widescreen and with 5.1 soundtracks. The transfers are excellent with well managed contrast, no hint of edge enhancement and surprising detail for a standard definition treatment. Colours seem true to the program's realistic look and the image is steady and sharp throughout. I don't suppose it'll be too different to what Sky viewers got when the episodes were transmitted but for those of us unwilling to make Rupert richer, this presentation will do very nicely.
The surround mix allows a little more in the way of hospital atmosphere to have an impact on the viewer with the effects of beeping and chugging machines mixed throughout the sound-stage. I did notice that often the effects missed out the sound of House's cane but this must be a source issue. The quality of the audio is very good with voices clear, music vibrant and no mastering issues that I could put my finger on, a higher bit-rate might have been good but this is perfectly fine.

Special Features

Season five is presented on six discs with four episodes on each. The discs are encoded for regions 2,4 & 5, not all regions as it says on the disc itself. The menu is still promotional art with the series music playing.

Extras in the way of featurettes on the writing, the opening teaser of each episode, Cuddy's baby storyline, casting and the 100th episode are offered. These all seem to have been taken from NTSC sources and there is motion shake, combing and a general dullness to the video. The main cast are really only represented by a bubbly Lisa Edelstein in these pieces with most of the contributions coming from the writers and production crew. The casting featurette includes parts of Laurie's audition and covers how you get an actor to agree to be covered in maggots!

The commentary on the Locked-in episode is also courtesy of the writers and starts with "does anyone listen to commentary track" and a promise to reveal the secrets of season six in the middle if you keep listening. Unfortunately outside of the interest of a first person perspective throughout, there is little else to keep you glued to this option.


This set is for those of you who noticed the huge hole in Channel Five's schedules and wouldn't fork out for Sky One, and this is a very nice treatment for those who of you who want to own one of this show's best years.

8 out of 10
8 out of 10
8 out of 10
6 out of 10


out of 10

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