Since the beginning of season 4 of 'House MD', fans and télévision critics alike have been questioning the show's story structure and direction. There have been some significant changes to the show's cast, character development and episode structure. Some of these changes were well-received, while others still anger fans. Here, I want to assess some of these issues, with the aim of defending and promoting critical analysis of a montrer that many fans are now abandoning.
The Spring Clean of Season 4
At the end of season 3, Chase, Cameron and Foreman were removed from the main cast, and season 4 saw House choosing his replacement employees reality tv style. At the time, many fans were angry that Chase, Cameron and Foreman were being replaced. And many fans became even angrier when Foreman was brought back on the team permanently, whilst Cameron and Chase moved on to other things. Other fans loved the change of character scenery and enjoyed House's weekly whittling down of potential ducklings.
Ever since the beginning of the show, 'House MD' was critiqued for being formulaic. That is, the montrer followed a specific format every week and was predictable in its story structure. Now, normally I would say who cares? The story structure needs to be that way because the montrer is about how medicine can at times be so complex that it takes a freak-of-nature genius to figure it out and even he sometimes cannot find an answer. The medicine, in seasons 1, 2 and 3 was always in the foreground, and therefore the writers had very few options to play with in terms of story structure. In a medical montrer hat prioritises the medicine and a medical mind (House), it is has not to follow the patient-gets-sick-then-gets-sicker-then-gets-even-sicker-but-then-House-saves-the-day-at-the-last-minute approach. That story structure was kinda the point of the show.
BUT, télévision critics, and even some fans, were pressuring the montrer to change things up, accusing the montrer of getting stale. Realistically, the producers and writers had no choice but to over-haul the montrer in order to maintain the show’s popularity and critical acclaim. So, in true House fashion, big, dramatic changes were made.
Whether toi like ou agree with such changes is relevant: they happened and they are here to stay. There is still debate, and there always will be, about whether these changes were right ou wrong ou necessary. It is interesting, however, to look at the by-products of these changes in season 4 and how they are impacting the montrer through seasons 5 and 6.
The Aftermath of a Clean Up
The shift in focus from House's medical genius to his quest to find the perfect set of new ducklings meant that the montrer shifted from a medically driven montrer to a relationship driven show. In season 1, 2 and 3, House's interactions with people had been in the background, occasionally moved into the limelight, then pushed aside again, making way for medical mystery and Houseian genius. However, the need for House to employ new fellows meant that the writers would need to spend plus time looking at the individual characters who were applying for the job, as well as House's character and the other people around him (Wilson, Cuddy etc). So it was necessary that character development became a foreground issue on the show, while the medicine took a back seat.
If we then déplacer into the end of season 4, we begin to see a bit plus of a balance between the character driven stories and the medically driven stories. And again, we see that they montrer is criticised for simply reverting back to its old formulaic ways with new characters. This forces the writers to make dramatic changes once again, so they reintroduce Amber and then kill her. Episodes such as 'House's Head' cannot be accused of following the same formulaic story structures seen in earlier seasons.
Again, in the beginning of season 5, the cycle repeats itself. Things settle down again at Princeton-Plainsboro, and critics call it formulaic and boring. So again, the focus shifts to the characters and big dramatic moments define the season and the individual episodes. The medicine, it seems, moving further and further into the background of the show.
Season 6 has been very focused on characters and relationships. Episodes like 'Wilson' and '5 To 9' are perfect examples of the writers changing up the format of the show, but still keeping the focus on the characters. My fear with this kind of change is that we are perhaps loosing House a little. There has been much criticism from both tv critics and fans that the montrer is focusing too much on the lives of the other characters on the montrer and neglecting the main character, House. I don't think that is what is happening. I think par giving us a look at the lives of other characters, we see how House impacts their lives. Whether its Thirteen's Huntington's, Cuddy's relationships, living with Wilson, Kutner's death, Foreman's brother, Taub's marriage ou people from House's past, looking at their lives gives us an indirect look at House's life and a direct look at how House's behaviour impacts other people.
So What Does This Mean?
Due to the demands of the entertainment industry and the way that the entertainment industry is evolving, it is necessary for tv shows to keep their audience. To do that, they need to keep things interesting. For 'House MD', this has meant shifting to plus of a focus on the character development for all characters in the show. Sure, the medicine has taken a back seat, and that is, in some ways, worrying. We don't, for example, ever expect ou want the montrer to turn into 'Grey's Anatomy' ou 'Scrubs' where the focus is squarely and barely ever diverted from the characters and their lives. 'House MD' needs to be about the medicine, because House (the character) always prioritises the medicine.
What I am saying, is that we need to take a critical look at our fandom. Critics are paid to write their opinions and, lets be honest, the bulk of them will write something that will grab attention rather than actually be a critical analysis of the show/ But we, as fans, have the power to critically assess the montrer on a much deeper level than some aléatoire tv reviewer. The problem is we need to start actually doing it.
Due to the intensity that certain episodes have donné us (for example 'House's Head', 'Broken', 'Simple Explanation' and so on), I think we have become addicted to epic moments. That is, we crave intensity and life-changing moments every week. If it isn't shocking, it isn't good. If it doesn't fit what I expected ou wanted to happen, it isn't good. A good example (and I hesitate to use it due to the obvious reasons!) is the Lucas/Cuddy storyline. Lets face it, Huddy has the largest, loudest fan base (please note that that does not make Huddy superior!). But back when Lucas appeared on the scene in season 5, people loved him (in general). Now, in season 6, people hate him, and some hate Cuddy too, claiming that the characters have changed and become bad people. Firstly, the characters have not changed, they have been developed, due to the process that I have described in the first part of this article. Secondly, and most importantly, the kind of emotional reactions that Luddy has generated are exactly what drives the change from a medically focused montrer to a relationship driven show. par buying into the relationships to the degree that we do as hardcore fans, we are supporting that shift in story focus. I'm not saying that is a bad thing ou a good thing, but it is an explanation. fans and critics alike have blasted the montrer recently for becoming a soap opera; yet we crave, demand and support that soap opera each week.
So, I think what we need, as a fandom, if we are to continue to positively participate in the support of 'House MD' is some critical thinking about what makes this montrer so great, where we think it could improve and why we think those things. For some of us, the plus récent seasons have been disappointing. Some of us have stopped watching altogether. Some of us are loving every twist and turn. Instead of arguing about couples and characters, abusing the writers and producers and mourning seasons past, I think we need to critically and logically evaluate the montrer as it is and put vers l'avant, vers l’avant our ideas in a way that helps us express our points of view plus effectively to fellow fans and the people who write and produce the show.