House: Season 8 – Early Review

The drug-addled doc returns for an eighth year, how is the prognosis after three episodes?

The eighth season and beyond is a difficult time for any TV show. You’ve lost a few beloved cast members, done the obvious plots more than once, and might consider drastic change to keep things fresh. And so it is for Hugh Laurie’s cranky pill-popping Doctor House. Or is it?

Because, yes, there are cast losses here. Olivia Wilde finally leaves properly, after spending most of last year absent to focus on movies. But, although Wilde was good in her part, the white-coated diagnostic lackeys are basically interchangeable. And, surely enough, in the early episodes of the new season we’re presented with perfectly decent replacements.

Far more substantial is the loss of Lisa Edelstein’s Doctor Cuddy, House’s boss and love interest, who decided to move on between seasons, without even popping back to be written out. They pulled the trigger on her major storyline last year, so I can see her point.

But try as I might, I can’t get excited about Foreman as Cuddy’s replacement, and not just because of the lack of sexual tension. The “Foreman thinks he’s in charge” storyline has been wheeled out several times, do we need another iteration? Wouldn’t putting Wilson in charge have been more novel?

Not that formula and repetition have ever stopped House. As many have observed before, each episode is predictable as the speaking clock, relying on character subplots and arcs to stop us getting sick of it. And clearly it works, since they’ve lasted eight years, but this feels increasingly like a show whose best years are behind it. By which I mean seasons 3-6.

Yes, the show is still producing entertaining episodes like a well-oiled machine, Hugh Laurie remains charismatic as House and the new characters seem promising. (Although is it me, or did Odette Annable’s prison doc have a personality transplant between episodes?)

But I used to think of House as a strong TV drama, and now it’s just a better-than-average medical procedural. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be watching. Rather this than Casualty.

Nick Bryan

Updated: Nov 03, 2011

Get involved
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum
House: Season 8 – Early Review | The Digital Fix