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Universal Studios Home Video presents
House, M.D.: Season One (2004)

"No, I hired you because you look good."
- Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: August 29, 2005

Stars: Hugh Laurie
Other Stars: Lisa Edelstein, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 16h:12m:00s
Release Date: August 30, 2005
UPC: 025192849121
Genre: television

Image Transfer
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DVD Review

Medical dramas are a dime a dozen these days and growing, thanks to the seemingly unending success of ER. This perennial ratings giant has been slipping a bit over the last few years, but 2004 saw the debut of two popular new hospital-set dramas: Grey's Anatomy and House. The former benefited by a post-Desperate Housewives time slot, but the latter, House, although aided by following American Idol, earned its stripes the hard way: through excellent shows that feature an eclectic cast, and outstanding individual stories that keep its audience guessing until the end.

Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) has the worst bedside manner in medical history, completely avoiding direct contact with his patients at all costs. He also has a problem obeying orders, all of this resulting from the chronic pain in his leg and permanent limp. Being addicted to painkillers doesn't help House's demeanor either, but most of his colleagues and eventually his patients are able to look past his faults, given his brilliant medical skills and uncanny ability to diagnose even the most puzzling and rare ailments.

Dr. House works with a team of doctors that include Drs. Robert Chase (Jesse Spencer), Eric Foreman (Omar Epps), James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), and Allison Cameron (Jennifer Morrison). He is constantly at odds with the chief administrator, Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), a strict businesswoman who has rules that House simply cannot abide.

This series is basically a mystery show that usually pits House against a deadly disease. While most mystery series involve a detective trying to solve a crime or find a killer, House uses its unique approach to its advantage, appealing to those who are tired of the formulaic programs that are cluttering up the airwaves, yet generally sticking to a loose but comfortable outline. The amazing thing is that it has jumped way beyond where similar shows like C.S.I. and Cold Case were after their first season, delivering original ideas on a consistent basis, when that is seemingly impossible anymore for this genre. You'll also learn more about science and medicine then you ever will on ER or any other hospital show, as each potential diagnosis is a very detailed one.

The pilot episode gets the series off to a great start, thanks in large part to the excellent guest spot by Robin Tunney. Tunney plays a teacher who begins spouting gibberish to her class one day, then collapses in front of them. It's Dr. House to the rescue, challenging Tunney's character to take a risk that could either save her life or prove fatal. The foundation is laid for House's rudeness towards pretty much everyone in the second episode, Paternity. This is my personal Season One favorite, telling the story of a boy who loses his focus during a lacrosse game and is hit extremely hard by an opposing player. Many tests are run with multiple diagnoses being formed, resulting in a one that might lead to a miraculous, life-saving procedure.

To avoid monotony, an all-out rival for Dr. House is introduced mid-season in the form of Edward Vogler (Chi McBride). This rich hospital donor has become the chairman of the board, giving him the rare authority to stand up to House and his anti-establishment actions. I'm not a big fan of McBride (although he was very good in The Frighteners), but he really is the perfect opponent for House, keeping the show from becoming mired in the same basic story formulas over and over again.

Some of the other more engaging episodes are Occam's Razor, The Socratic Method, Detox, Cursed, and Kids, but there really isn't a bad installment in the bunch. The season finale, Honeymoon, is both a satisfying ending to this first go-around, and a nice way to keep fans waiting in heavy anticipation for the premiere of Season Two.

It's just amazing how Dr. House can get away with treating the few patients that he does see like dirt. He enters his exam room with a chip on his shoulder and isn't afraid to tell them how moronic they are for being there in the first place. This makes it all the more compelling when House winds up delivering a valuable lesson to these individuals, even though they don't realize it until they are on their way out of his door.

There are outstanding performances from all, but House wouldn't work at all without Hugh Laurie, who gives an Emmy-worthy performance week after week.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Even though it was initially advertised to contain anamorphic widescreen presentations, they are actually nonanamorphic 1.78:1. Aside from this major disappointment, the overall quality of the video is quite nice. The show is very colorful, with each and every discrete blip on the medical monitors easy to see, down to the last detail. There isn't any grain, dirt or other problems, but it's very difficult to get past the nonanamorphic problem.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes make adequate use of the surrounds, incorporating ambient sounds and music into the rear channels at the appropriate times. The rest of the sound stays mostly up front, with the well-written dialogue always crystal clear and easy to understand.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 88 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Revelations: The Complete Series, Northern Exposure: The Complete Third Season, The Interpreter
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
3 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: DVD-18

Extras Review: All of the extras are on Side B of the third disc, six featurettes about the making of House: Season One.

The Concept is nearly five minutes long, and focuses on how the show came about, with interviews featuring creator David Shore, the cast, and executive producer Bryan Singer.

A brief 90-second segment called Casting Sessions with Hugh Laurie is part of the lead actor's audition tape.

Medical Cases runs for four minutes and is a look at how the individual storylines came about. We learn that many of the ideas came from the experiences of the show's medical consultant, David Foster, MD. In the five-minute Set Tour, Jennifer Morrison takes us around the main hospital stage. House-isms is four minutes of clips from the show that highlight some of the main characters' best glib and sarcastic remarks. The last segment, Dr. House, is over six minutes of clips and interviews with Hugh Laurie, all of which focus on this dynamic character.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

With the second season ready to air on Fox in a few short weeks, now's the chance to get caught up on episodes you might have missed in House: Season One. This three-disc set has all 22 episodes, but for some reason, they are presented in non-anamorphic transfers, even though they were broadcast in HD during their initial run. The audio is solid and there are a few nice extras, but die-hard fans might be turned off by the disappointing video format.


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