Tag Archives: season 4

Finding Dr. Gregory House in the “Survivor” Arc

Published at Blogcritics.org

by Barbara Barnett

The substantive difference between words and deeds is one of House, MD’s most important themes. Wrapped in a medical procedural package, and occasionally bordering on comedy, the series is essentially a detailed character study of one of the most complex characters ever written for television (and certainly network television).

House is played by the ever-amazing Hugh Laurie (please forgive my entirely forgivable use of hyperbole), each week peeling back minute facets of this intricately crafted character, letting us glimpse the wounded, intellectual and deeply sensitive man beneath the sarcasm, cynicism, rudeness, and labyrinthine game-playing of his façade.

Left at the end of season three with no team, House, under pressure from Wilson and Cuddy, set out to hire a new staff. The “hiring arc,” also known as House Survivor lasted for eight episodes (not counting the season premiere). Had this been a “normal” 24 episode season, it would have taken up only a third of the season four narrative. As it played out, however, with the season delivering only 16 episodes, the “survivor” arc spanned half the season, giving it too much weight and not quite enough room for everything else that might have gone into the series’ fourth season. A very good (but slightly lopsided) season might have been exceptional had the full slate of 24 episodes aired. (The nine post-“survivor” arc episodes contained some the series’ best, including “Frozen,” and the breathtaking finale episodes “House’s Head” and “Wilson’s Heart.”)

On the other hand, the “survivor” arc serves to give us some insight into the “real” House; what he values and what he does not value in a medical colleague; how he thinks, and even how he feels. And it gives us a rare extended glimpse of House, the teacher.

Continued here….. http://blogcritics.org/archives/2008/07/01/072141.php


New House Episodes Begin on Monday!

Well, we made it, friends. The drought is about to be over with a deluge of four new House episodes to close out the fourth season. And then nothing until season five commences. In case you do not obsessively watch and re-watch every episode, hanging on every word, nuance, and flash of Hugh Laurie’s eyes, let’s review the season thus far and bring everyone up to speed.

When the season began, House was without a team: Chase had been fired after Foreman resigned (refusing to “become” House). Cameron then quit, upset that House fired Chase (I don’t buy for a minute that she has “learned all she can,” and is ready to move on.) House, now alone, wants to be left that way. Wilson believes that House doesn’t want a new team because it would be too emotionally stressful: that despite his best efforts to the contrary, House would become emotionally attached to his new fellows as he had his old team (and House fears that more than anything, according to Wilson). House, needless to say, disagrees, simply saying that he really doesn’t need a team and is fine on his own.

Like Wilson, Cuddy disagrees with House (well, what else is new?), but her reasoning is slightly different. She believes (and I’ll go along with her on this one) that House functions better professionally with a team with which to brainstorm. Although he appears to abuse and dismiss every idea borne by his fellows, he really doesn’t. Rather, he uses their unique takes on the patients to sift through his own encyclopedic knowledge and form a (usually) correct (albeit eventual) diagnosis. Since Cuddy is House’s boss, she wins, and House has to hire a new team.

Coerced into hiring a team, House goes about it in the only way possible. Convinced that a simple job interview would fail to provide him with an adequate picture of the “mad skillz” required for his department, House constructs an elaborate elimination game. Starting out with 40 candidates, he quickly whittles the pool down to a more manageable group, while treating an astronaut. This group includes an older guy (affectionately known as ROF — ridiculously old fraud) who isn’t really a doctor (but who is very smart); an infectious disease anarchist (wonder if this was House at an earlier age); a cut-throat bitch who no one likes (but is a great foil for House), and an African–American Mormon! It also includes the three he will eventually hire: Taub, Kutner, and the doctor known as “13.”

The game goes on over the weeks (perhaps a few too many for a shortened season) to follow as House whittles away at the pool of fellowship candidates. As he does, it gets more and more difficult for him to let anyone go. (Damn those emotional attachments.) In the mean time, House subjects himself to near-electrocution, trying to prove that nothing lies in the great beyond — in order to prevent a clinic from trying it for a second time as he seeks the ultimate high in the white light (what a guy!). All House manages is to seriously hurt himself (while convincing Wilson that House is seriously self-destructive) and get a nasty burn on his left hand. Alas both of House’s patients die, as well as one patient’s dog.

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