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Reviewed by Will Harris
here aren’t many shows which can claim to be as successful at reinventing themselves every season as “House” has been. Actually, maybe “reinventing” isn’t exactly the right word, since the series has always kept several characters at its core, most notably the one who gives the show its title. Dr. Gregory House has consistently stalked the halls of the Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital since 2004, popping Vicodin and serving up his medical theories and eventual diagnoses with the kind of obnoxious delivery that would get anyone else sued, but creator David Shore and his fellow executive producers Paul Attanasio and Katie Jacobs never fail to successfully switch things up around House.
Although Ross Ruediger, who reviewed Season Four for Bullz-Eye, didn’t necessarily love the way the show took a chapter from “Survivor” last season and had House running potential new interns through their paces in a lengthy attempt to determine who would have the “honor” of working for him, the end result was nonetheless a new trifecta of cast members – Drs. Taub (Peter Jacobson), Hadley (Olivia Wilde), and Kutner (Kal Penn) – whose disparate natures nonetheless managed to blend well together. As Season Five kicked off, the new character dynamic was fully in place, with the trio being led by one-time intern Foreman (Omar Epps), and although Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) and Chase (Jesse Spencer) may have gotten short shrift in the previous year, those issues would soon be remedied.
When we rejoined the “House” gang for their fifth season, several months had passed since the Season Four finale, but the effects of Amber’s death were still very much being felt, particularly by Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), who was once again left trying to decide if maintaining a friendship with House was worth the time, effort and repercussions. Thankfully, this wasn’t dragged out very long. After all the stuff we’ve seen Wilson endure at House’s hand, there was never any reason to believe that the two wouldn’t eventually reconcile; we’d better not see them break up again, because if they were able to leap this chasm, it’s clear that they’re doomed to maintain their bizarre friendship forever. Far more intriguing was the relationship between House and the hospital’s long-suffering administrator, Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), whose biological clock was ticking so loudly that she opted to adopt a baby. House’s reaction to her attempt to fulfill her mothering instincts was as cynical as one might expect, but less anticipated was his attempt to move forward with a relationship with the good doctor. Actually, it’s a bit naive to pretend that it was a turn of that couldn’t be seen coming, since the sexual tension between the pair has been palpable since the first episode, but kudos to the writers for waiting to move forward with the idea ‘til we’d all but given up on it ever happening.
As hinted at above, Drs. Cameron and Chase finally return to the forefront for awhile in Season Five, with their relationship hitting some rather strange notes before the pair make sweet music again by the finale; similarly, Drs. Foreman and Hadley (otherwise known as Thirteen) couple up during the course of the season – an event made all the more surprising by her willingness to play both sides of the gender fence. Thirteen’s battle with Huntington’s Disease adds to the drama, as do the goings-on within Taub’s marriage, but none of it can hold a candle to what Kutner pulls in the ironically-titled episode “Simple Explanation.” Though it’s a pretty well-documented event by now, we won’t be the ones to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t yet seen or picked up Season Five; we’ll only say that, although it’s probably not something you saw coming, its ramifications set up the remainder of the season so well that it’s hard to argue against the dramatic necessity of it.
Season Five closes with House doing something that, in seasons past, you never could’ve imagined him doing: what’s best for him. It’s a long, rough road to that point, though, and that’s intended as a compliment.
Special Features: Though it’s not as full of features as some of Universal’s sets (like, say, “Heroes”), with the first two discs turning up completely devoid of extras, there are featurettes devoted to the show’s 100th episode, its guest stars, Dr. Cuddy’s maternal storyline, the attempt to keep the show’s writing as accurate as possible (entitled “Keeping It Real”), and an explanation of the importance of the show’s openings (“Anatomy of a Teaser”). As for commentaries, we only get one, on “Locked In.”