tue 18/06/2024

House, Season 8, Sky1 | reviews, news & interviews

House, Season 8, Sky1

House, Season 8, Sky1

Is there a doctor in the jailhouse?

'Why would I want to make sure my homicidal roomie is getting his medication?' Hugh Laurie rubs sarcasm in the wound

Since he hit the ground limping, seven years back, diagnostic genius Gregory House, MD, has been shot, drugged, trapped under a collapsing building, exposed to deadly viruses (his own doing), prosecuted, fired, committed to a psychiatric unit, and generally killed off and resurrected in many and variously cunning ways.

He has never (yet) been pushed over Niagara Falls (we don't have to go into the whole House/Holmes thing, right?), but when the last season culminated with House driving a suburban saloon through his boss's living-room window, it did seem like the show might be nearing the end of its prescription.

Twelve months on, though, and House is having his Shawshank moment, a straight-up-and-down, our-jails-are-overcrowded, just-say-the-right-thing-and-we-can-move-you-on-out-of-here parole-hearing. "For good... ish... behaviour". Only, he knows it, and, through sheer bloody-mindedness, very nearly fluffs the formalities by, well, failing to fluff the formalities. Net result, a classic premise: House has to keep his nose clean for Five Whole Days. As anyone who's watched the programme could tell you, you wouldn't bet the House on him managing five minutes. And that's without convicted felons actively trying to get him into trouble.

All we know is, he didn't have a decent lawyer

If his immediate future is unclear (is he still a doctor? Is he not returning to Princeton-Plainsboro? Is he serious about a PhD in Physics?!), then so, too, is his recent past. All we know is, he didn't have a decent lawyer.

So here's Greg, in the pokey - and improbably zenlightened vis-à-vis his incarceration, one has to say - sporting a rather longer coiffure than is his wont and some not-very-flattering Department of Corrections scrubs (DOC: d'you see what they did there?), trying to ride out five lousy days, stuck between The Rock and a whole menage of violently reoffending borderline psychatric cases. Which is not to say he shouldn't sweat the small stuff: namely, a large and homicidal cellmate with a passion for crickets, and trying not to get shanked in the showers (which either doesn't mean what you think or means exactly what you think, depending on how much time you've spent on the inside). 

So far, then, not so very different. House prides itself on being a format show (the industry argot is "procedural"), and so far this series is as format does, exactly what the (ex-?)doctor ordered. Hospital, psych-ward, prison... what's the difference? The medicum is the message, and House was in his element.

Me and humanity - we got together too young

He's still surrounded by a motley assortment of misfits and morons; he's still got people busting his chops (sometimes literally); he's still penned in by rules he needs to break, for his good and everyone else's; he still has a room-mate/pal/colleague/confidant/crutch/co-conspirator on whom he can inflict his pep talks in the House style ("There's a reason we're locked away from nice, normal people"); he still has a problem with pills (to wit: he just can't get enough); he still expends the greater proportion of his energy trying, metaphorically or actually, to be thrown in solitary ("Me and humanity - we got together too young"); and he still, of course, finds opportunities, even in these unlikeliest of circumstances, for a spot of inspired doctoring - a rash diagnosis here, an emergency tracheotomy there - still making risky calls, still finding a patch of wall on which to scribble his differential, and everything, but everything, still being lupus, at some point in proceedings.

So, all fair and above board. If not necessarily a medical certification board.

Most regular viewers could not only offer a consult but also prep themselves for surgery

In fairness, and thanks to the arduous correctional schedule of bin-emptying and canteen punch-ups, this opening hour was a little light on the medical aspect. Not that it matters. That side of things has been done to death in the last seven seasons, to the extent that most regular viewers could not only offer a consult (though I'm telling you, it's lupus) but also prep themselves for surgery.

The cast might be more of an issue. As it stands, it's something of a one-House race. And though it's unlikely that our eponymous hero will stay in the joint for more than another episode or two - and it's a safe bet that the naive and newly minted Dr Adams (Odette Annable) will remain as grist to House's ever-grinding mill - it might be as well to get a wriggle on with firming up who's in and who's out of the old stalwarts. That's all been rather unsettled, of late, at some cost to the set pieces and structure.

Still, let's not pretend anybody's watching for reasons other than Hugh Laurie (peace be upon his salt'n'pepper beard). House may be as predictable as a three-frame Peanuts cartoon; but low on their own supply after a mere eight seasons? Not a bit of it. I'm gonna be watching till Hugh Laurie succumbs to cantbefunnyonthenightis and slips into mordant comedical arrest. Even then, there's always the box set.   

A rash diagnosis here, an emergency tracheotomy there - even in the slammer, he's still making the calls

Share this article


someone's had too much sunny-delight.

Thoroughly enjoyable after last season's car crash finalé.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters