Overview: Oh, House. I’ve profiled my frustrations with how the series has changed since the original team broke up at the end of season three, and even after what I thought was a stellar season finale, those frustrations still exist. The series has shifted to more emphasis on the team members, it’s just that now the people in those positions aren’t quite as interesting as the ones before it. That and the writing has devolved into focusing on only one note for each of these characters — Taub and his marriage issues, for example — instead of shaping you know, actual people. But hey, we still get to watch Hugh Laurie every week!
Pros: Like I said, Hugh Laurie. Even though the characters was unevenly written this season, Laurie’s portrayal of House’s recovery was always stellar and oftentimes beyond that. As always, House makes even the dumbest episodes seem entertaining when he’s on the screen and it was nice to see Laurie play the more sensitive beats amid the flurry of sarcasm and deflections. You can fault the series for doing a lot of things wrong over the years, but there’s no way that Hugh Laurie has anything to do with them.
This might cause an internet uproar, but I also wanted to point Olivia Wilde’s performance and the improved writing for Thirteen, especially in the second half of the season. Though the character was highlighted too much in season five and then found herself trapped in that awful romance with the always-dull Foreman, once she was free from all that the writers found her personality. Thirteen works much better as almost a female House-light where she can instigate conflict, be sarcastic and sometimes even inappropriate. That’s really the perfect place for her within the series, because Taub, Foreman and Chase are so dull that she needs to be more fun. Of course, it looks like the writers have more drama planned for her in season seven and all this will go out of the window.
Finally, I did appreciate the slightly increased focus on the House-Wilson relationship considering it has always been the strongest part of the series anyway. Though Wilson still isn’t in the series enough, it was nice to see the season explore how the two of them helped one another get over some of their hang-ups before ultimately moving on. Good stuff there.
Cons: I won’t go in to another 1,000 word rant about how the writers don’t really know what to do with these characters based on the way the series is not composed. Or how they really don’t know how to write for any character but House or Wilson, period. But just check out my other post and know that like you, I’m annoyed with the lack of good development for a number of the characters.
And a lot of that annoyance comes from the writers’ insistence on doing things for the shock value without thinking about building said events into a real story with lasting consequences. This season the most obvious example of that was Cameron’s exit and the circumstances around it. Not only did we not get enough of Chase and Cameron as a couple before their wedding, but then the series quickly decided to break them up AND make the cause of their break up a murder. Yeah, Chase freaking murdered a guy, who although may have deserved it, was still a human being. Boom! Chameron is over! Shocking! Right.
Additionally, the increased spotlight on the lives of the team has led to increasingly boring cases that have no emotional or thematic connection to anything else happening within individual episodes. I remember the earlier episodes of the series that always had cases that told us something about Foreman, Cameron, Chase and oftentimes House. Now, it’s just a random disease that doesn’t even get its due within the episode and the faceless person with it never has any meat screentime. The season finale “Help Me” was one of the only times that the patient actually had a personality and life in them and it proves the writers could do that kind of work when they want to. So do it.
Finally, I have to point out that the rehabilitation of House was handled only okay. The early part of the season was very solid in showing him deal with his recovery, but the middle portion basically had House acting like House, just without drugs. Once the final string of episodes came a callin’ and suddenly it was all about House, his problems and visiting with the shrink, I felt a little cheated. That should have been the focus all along.
Best storyline: House’s recovery and relationship with Wilson.
Worst storyline: The ForeTeen relationship — no thanks.
Best performer: Hugh Laurie — C’mon, no question. Like I said previously, he sold House’s struggles with recovery as well as possible, despite sometimes weak writing.
Best single moment: House’s reaction to Hanna’s death in “Help Me” and subsequent lashing out at Foreman.
Three best episodes: “Broken,” “Help Me,” “Wilson”
Worst episode: “Black Hole”
Where does this season fit in the context of the whole series: I think on second viewing I’ll realize that S6 is an improvement over the messy S5, but they are neck-and-neck for the unfortunate “worst” season title. This season was more successful at building some long-term arcs, even if they did stumble and could end up serving as an important transition period for the series’ surely final few seasons. The standout episodes are some of the series’ best and prove that there’s still something left in the House tank, those kind of things just need to happen more often.
Final grade: B-
Past days of the wrap