Whether or not this will jade your opinion of all of the words you see in this review, I just feel the need to say something; I love House, seriously I can’t get enough of it. Every episode from every season graces the hard drive of my laptop, and if for whatever reason my music happens to be unavailable, it’ll be whirring away on constant repeat on the table just to my right. In fact, it’s doing it right now. Look, House just said something insensitive to a dying person. Oh, House, you are such a character!
Of course, a review isn’t meant to help the reviewer, it’s meant to help you guys decide whether Season eight of House is worth your time. So, I’ll put my critic’s hat on.
After Season seven’s explosive finish, Season eight begins with House in prison, something that arguably should have happened a long time ago, with the knowledge he is due for parole in a week. However, he is warned by the prison wardens that any naughty behaviour will dash any hopes he has for an early release, and is urged to stay out of trouble for the next seven days. Of course, this is news for his fellow prison inmates, who take it upon themselves to steal from House at any opportunity, from his tuna rations to his precious, precious Vicodin, knowing that any retaliation from House will simply extend his stay in jail. And on top of that, three doors down from House is a man with a strange illness that not even the prison doctors can solve.
Thus, we go back to the original formula. Anyone who’s watched an episode of House knows the drill by now. House obsesses over trying to find the answer to a mystery illness whilst dealing with his own issues/problems in between. He’ll be wrong a couple of times, but he’ll get there in the end. Same old, same old. Despite the fact that the new prison setting simply paved the way for a season opening with the same power and unpredictability as the double-length Season six première had (in my opinion, one of the best ninety minutes of American Drama you’ll ever see), the writers seem to have completely squandered it in favour of just another patient of the week. But that’s alright, because, personally, I always think House has had an exceptional supporting cast, so surely the new characters we see in the prison will be fresh and original, right?
Well, that’s kind of a big “meh” all round, really. New doctor Jessica Adams is competently played by Odette Annable, taking all the hints from the “I’ve never met Greg House before” playbook, transitioning from resentment to respect in twenty minutes flat. Patient of the Week Nick (Sebastian Sozzi) probably takes the gold for the supporting cast, doing a good job of acting the “inmate in denial”, but then we come to the cookie cutter prison yard characters: the big guy whose orders you should follow to avoid unfortunate accidents, the evil mastermind backed up by an army of henchman, the black guy whose resourcefulness can get you any manner of things you want, the incompetent prison guard – yeah, House, I’ve already seen The Shawshank Redemption, I’m glad we both agree that it’s a damn good film.
Okay, so I’m being a bit cruel. Overall, I did enjoy the episode, and if you’ve watched House from the start, then this is pretty much just more of the same, if maybe a tiny bit more contrived than usual. I’m just a bit disappointed, I’ve seen what the writers at House can do, breaking the mould of the show entirely, sometimes not even featuring a medical storyline at all (which, in my opinion, produced some of the best episodes). And yet, even when the oppurtunity was handed to them on a silver platter to do something a bit different, they just shoehorned a medical mystery in when they could’ve had another attempt to break the formula.
Don’t worry though, the second episode has our back as far as mould-breaking is concerned with no patient to treat, simply a pair of lungs! Yeah, I think they’re starting to run out of ideas, but can you blame them? It’s been seven seasons and more than 150 episodes of medical insanity, and the writers – even Hugh Laurie himself – have given us enough reason to believe that season eight will be the last season of House. I can only hope that we are given a fantastic swansong of a season, and while these two episodes might not hit that note quite so well, the potential is certainly there. Foreman’s (Omar Epps) new position as Dean of Medicine following Lisa Edelstein’s departure from the show, as well as a new doctor Chi Park already looking like an interesting antithesis to House’s insanity are keeping my hopes up for some juicy events in the coming episodes.
Regardless of what you think of House, if you’ve ever been curious about it, well, better late than never. And since this will probably be the last season, make sure you get a chance to see it sooner rather than later. Join the rest of us in saying goodbye to one of the flagship American dramas of the decade; even with it’s slow decline in quality from outstanding to just plain great, I’ll be sad to see it go, and I’m certain a lot of you will be too.