A 'bittersweet' end to Fox's 'House'
Here's where we stand as one of TV's premiere dramas of the past decade comes to an end Monday night. Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) must return to jail for six months for parole violation, while Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) will likely be dead from cancer in five months.
In jail for six months, while his only friend in the cold, cruel and indifferent universe will be gone forever in five.
A rock on one side. A hard place on the other.
As usual, this conundrum is all House's fault -- following some elaborate scheme gone very bad that was designed to force a reluctant Wilson to undergo chemotherapy so he'd stay alive a couple more years, thereby giving House himself a reason to stay alive. But with House in jail, Wilson probably will forgo chemo and die. Without Wilson by his side, what does House have to live for? Checkmate.
Phew: Grim, dark, scary ... and remarkable.
Remarkable that a series that was always about a battle between the head and heart -- specifically House’s hard head and cold heart -- should win admirers and viewers while becoming, for a time, one of the most popular shows on the planet.
Especially remarkable that an unrepentant misanthrope with a game leg and taste for Vicodin would become a pop icon for eight seasons.
“House” was a rare bird, indeed -- a commercial TV program about the search for truth by a desperately flawed man embittered by the futility of his pursuit.
“House” succeeded because of an intelligent performance by Laurie, but he had unusually able support, including Leonard, who left a distinguished stage career for this, as well as Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson. All were cast as doctors or administrators who suffered under House’s relentless lash or, in the case of Lisa Cuddy (Edelstein), his relentless romantic attentions.
And while a formula, “House” rarely felt like one because producer David Shore’s research and writing were models of precision. Words never felt wasted, while every line seemed to service the story or medical case of the moment.
Shore recently explained that the show’s “message ... and what House stands for is really the pursuit of truth, and not just blindly following, while asking ‘what is reality and what is the right thing to do.’ That search for objective truth is what I found fundamentally the most interesting throughout the run of the show.”
Shore will say only that the end is “bittersweet.”
Verne Gay is a Newsday staff writer.