The sixth season of the ever popular US medical procedural drama gets underway with a bang.
Approaching a particularly tricky time for a successful drama series, House has normally eschewed the headline-grabbing curio episodes that such shows as ER stooped to for ratings (the “live” episode and the one directed by Quentin Tarantino spring to mind). However, for the premiere of the sixth season we have double episode ‘Broken’, whereby the titular anti-hero is coming to terms with his addiction to prescription painkiller Vicodin and emerging from a period of cold turkey in an environment that’s foreign to both himself and the audience.
The gimmick here is that none of the regular characters apart from House appear in either of the episodes (with the fleeting exception of Robert Sean Leonard’s Dr Wilson on the other end of a phone). Like 24: Redemption, what we effectively have is a self-contained drama that lifts the main protagonist out of the setting most familiar to the audience and creates a “new cast” that will somewhat wrong foot any new viewers to the show.
House, however, has more than earned its spurs to throw series regulars such a curve ball. This season features an (only to be expected) Hugh Laurie directed episode (‘Lockdown’) and the typical string of cameo performances from the great and the good (David Strathairn and Adam Garcia). The show belongs to Laurie and so when some of the later episodes gravitate towards bringing some of the more supporting characters to the fore, proceedings flounder without his misanthropic (and effectively anti-American) rhetoric. Maybe it takes a British actor to be able to see beyond the typical flag-waving patriotism – either that or a very committed writing team.
The popularity of the show can probably be put down to the cribbing of the somewhat Holmesian similarities between Gregory and Sherlock: both struggle with narcotic addiction, could be perceived as anti-social and have a well-defined side-kick. Any sense that House is slowing or resting on its laurels can quickly be dispelled with this continually fascinating series.
Released on DVD on 27th September 2010 by Universal Playback.