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Season 6 - House Still Going Strong
on June 12, 2010
Season 5 of the series House ended memorably with a well-edited contrast: family and friends at warm wedding vs. Wilson watching the broken doctor as he checked himself into a hospital on a cold and gray day. Season 6 starts off with House (Hugh Laurie) in treatment for his vicodin addiction, an addiction which had fueled a series of devastating (yet revealing) hallucinations. Viewers know how House treats "normal" people (that is to say, not with warm and fuzzy feelings) and in the beginning of Season 6 they are treated to House interacting with "abnormal" people. House, ever the equal opportunity offender, does not seem too changed by his stint in Mayfield hospital. Andre Braugher (of "Homicide") was well cast as House's experienced, nothing-shocks-him therapist, able to go head-to-head with House, and there is a guest role by Franka Potente ("Run Lola Run") as a beautiful visitor to the hospital with whom House has a brief relationship.
The writers are able to take House out of his comfort zone, surround him with multi-dimensional characters, and still have House stand out. Don't expect any blatant epiphanies in therapy for House about why he is the way he is. Is it the pain, is it the drugs, his relationship with is father, is it the curse of being a genius? There are no resolutions to go back into the "real world," settle down and live happily ever after. Thank goodness!
The epiphanies are of course saved for the hospital, when House returns to work. He gradually becomes more confident in his ability to solve cases. Even after five previous seasons, the writers are able to come up with all new cases and all new characters for House to read right through.
That being said, Season 6 delves more of the personal lives of the characters than prior seasons: Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) as she balances being a mom, with a love life, and with the demands of her job; Cuddy and House; Taub (Peter Jacobson) and his wife, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) and Foreman (Omar Epps), Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) and House (some of the best dialogue from the show still occurs between those two), Wilson and his ex-wife. Of particular note, Dr. Chase (played by Jesse Spencer) finally gets some great story lines dealing with secrets, morality and ethics (which the show has always been great at raising discussions about). By Season 6, Robert Chase is no longer the doctor who always tries to stay on House's good side, or agree with House, or play it safe. In past seasons, it was Foreman who had to gain independence from House. In Season 6, Cuddy struggles with it, Taub struggles with it, Wilson starts to and Dr. Chase definitely does, but with severe professional and personal consequences. Of course, there was also the strawberry body butter incident(season 5). Gotta love the variety in the show!
In past seasons, there has been at least one reference (that I can recall) to a patient who died while under House's care. In Season 6, viewers witness other patients not making it. When it happens to House or his team, there will be and were huge ramifications.
Overall, another great season for House. Even after five seasons, Hugh Laurie is able to make House a multi-dimensional character, capable of stinging one-liners but also of conveying internal trauma. How he could not have won every Emmy and golden globe since House was on the air is beyond me. Don't award committees love drug addicts, people pulling off accents, and people in mental institutions? It's the trifecta!
Regarding the famed House/Cuddy relationship, I was probably in the minority by not being too keen on the idea, I thought it might get too "Grey's Anatomy" if you'll pardon the other medical show reference. However, the writers managed (who knows how) to put an original spin on their relationship, it is certainly kept far from the soap opera-ish realm of workplace romances, probably because the characters involved both have complex motivations. It will be interesting to see if House and Cuddy can make it, and in any case, it at least won't be a television cliché.
House fans have come to expect changes in House's team each season finale and true to form, Season 6 does not deviate as one cast member seems to be departing.
Bravo once again! Bravo!