House MD retrospective – Season 1

With the last ever episode of House MD, Everybody Dies (airing in the US on May 21st), billed to be the finale of all finales, I take a retrospective look back over the development of the characters and winding plots of the cult Fox medical drama starting with season 1.

First let’s meet the original line-up of characters! First there is the iconic, maverick, grumpy, witty, pill-popping eponymous star of the show: Dr Gregory House. A decade previous to the first episode, House had previously suffered an infarction in his right leg that doctors were slow to diagnose and treat, resulting House having a limp and having to use a cane to help him walk. Due to his constant pain he tends to be short tempered with people and pushes those close to him away.

Working alongside House is his much abused team consisting of Dr Eric Foreman, Dr Allison Cameron and Dr Robert Chase. They were handpicked to be in Houses team for a variety of reasons: Foreman often disagrees with House and tries to find theories to prove him wrong, Chase often agrees with House and often tries to find theories to prove him right, and Cameron is the groups moral compass, constantly trying to do what is morally right by the patient. The three of them form a kind of wall for House to bounce his ideas off of.

Keeping House in check are his boss, Dr Lisa Cuddy, and his one true Friend, Dr James Wilson. House will often butt heads with the two of them as they are not afraid to say no to him and sometimes put their foot down in order to stop him from going too far.

Season 1 of House MD, aired between November 16th 2004 and May 25th 2005, set up the interesting dynamics between the characters. While the character hierarchy is quickly established, the series didn’t rush the process of letting the audience discover the individual character relationships for themselves, similar to how you would if you were right there in House’s world.

Then along comes the villain to throw a spanner in the works. In the middle of the series multi-billionaire Edward Vogler pledges a $100million donation to the hospital, on the proviso that Cuddy reigns House in. She tries to make him wear a lab coat while at work (he refuses) she tries to make him fire one of his team (he refuses) and Vogler orders him to make a speech for his company in which House sabotages things. An infuriated Vogler demands Cuddy fire House, however unable to let go of the hospitals most brilliantly minded doctors, Cuddy refuses and Vogler retracts his $100million donation.

The series also deals with House’s addiction the narcotic Vicodin. He takes it in order to ease his leg pain; however he has become accustomed to the drug and has to take higher doses in order for it to have the same effect. Wilson and Cuddy make a bet with House that if he can stay off of the Vicodin for a week he doesn’t have to work clinic duty for a month. House accepts the challenge but soon realises that he has become dependent on the drugs. Being stubborn and fighting through House wins the bet but won’t admit that he has a problem with drugs as they help him do his job.

Towards the very end of the series we meet Houses ex-wife Stacy. We discover that in the years following the infarction in his leg the marriage to the lawyer degenerated and they split up. Stacy has sought House out knowing he was the only one that could diagnose a problem with her new husband Mark Warner. Old feelings are stirred up and the pair eventually admit they still love one another; however Stacy states that she can’t be with House due to his unreliability.

After much internal debate and struggle, House finally agrees to treat Mark. The poignant last scene of the season 1 sees House attempting to walk without the aid of his cane, however he stumbles and falls. He opens a vial of Vicodin and takes one of the tablets, knowing that he can’t ever be the man that he once was.

Primary Cast

Dr Gregory House – Hugh Laurie
Dr Eric Foreman – Omar Epps
Dr Robert Chase – Jesse Spencer
Dr Allison Cameron – Jennifer Morrison
Dr James Wilson – Robert Sean Leonard
Dr Lisa Cuddy – Lisa Edelsten
Edward Vogler – Chi McBride
Stacy Warner – Sela Ward

Other Seasons of House MD

Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5, Season 6, Season 7, Season 8

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