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HTF REVIEW: House, M.D.: Season One

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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 05 2005 - 05:46 AM

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House, M.D.: Season One

Studio: Universal Studios Home Video
Year: 2004-2005 (2005 Release)
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect Ratio: 1.78x1 (NOT enhanced for 16x9 televisions)
Audio: English DD 5.1
Captions/Subtitles: English SDH; Spanish Subtitles
Time: 972 minutes
Case Style: DigiPak
Disc Format: Dual Sided / Dual Layered (DVD-18, 3 disc set)

”Everybody lies.” – Dr. Gregory House


The Feature:

Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) is a brilliant diagnostician who specializes in infectious diseases and nephrology. But like a good punch to the kidneys, he is also a pain to deal with—a big one. House has the bedside manners of a rabid dog—he really does not seem to care much for patients, or people in general. He is in constant pain due to a leg problem, and as a result he is addicted to prescription pain pills. Yet, as the head of diagnostic medicine at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in New Jersey, he leads a team of three young doctors with their own specialties, into a field of investigative medicine that borders on the miraculous: the treatment of unusual medical cases, with as many twists and turns as your typical CSI show—only the patients are still alive, and mostly end up living. This rabid dog saves lives.

House, M.D. arrived on the Fox network last season and found enough ratings and a fan base to return for a second season (which starts on September 13th). In the typical episode, the patient of the week arrives to be the focus of House’s team, and there is a race against time to cure the patient. House is at odds with hospital administrator Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), who reminds him often that he owes the hospital’s clinic some time, even though House feels his talents are being wasted—or, he’d rather be watching General Hospital. (For those of us who wonder if there is more to the Cuddy/House story, some of our questions are answered near the end of the first season—early on, we see that she cuts him a lot of slack considering his unorthodox methods, and recognizes his talents despite the fact that he’s a major liability—later, there are some hints as to why she cuts him that slack.)

There is occasional banter between House and his best friend and oncologist Dr. Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), and there is constant interaction with the young doctors in servitude (Foreman, Cameron and Chase, played respectively by Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison, and Jesse Spencer). Throw in some often funny case-load in the clinic, particularly with how the abrasive doctor handles his patients, and that is the typical day in the life of Dr. Gregory House.

The Season One DVD set of House, M.D. comes on three double-sided, dual-layered discs. I’ve watched over half of the set, but feel it’s enough to comment on the show and DVD. The episodes, most of which are around 44 minutes, are as follows:

Disc 1 – Side A
Pilot
Paternity
Occam's Razor
Maternity

Disc 1 – Side B
Damned If You Do
The Socratic Method
Fidelity
Poison

Disc 2 – Side A
DNR
Histories
Detox
Sports Medicine

Disc 2 – Side B
Cursed
Control
Mob Rules
Heavy

Disc 3 – Side A
Role Model
Babies & Bathwater
Kids
Love Hurts

Disc 3 – Side B
Three Stories
The Honeymoon
DVD Extras

My favorite episode (so far) is “Three Stories,” which was so good, I watched it a second time. I find myself as addicted to this show as House is to Vicoden, with its finely drawn characters and interesting storylines. I’ll be watching this in high-definition when it premieres next week.

The Feature: 5 / 5
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Video:

Unfortunately, the praise ends here. According to reports which you may have seen on this forum, in their rush to get this DVD to street before the second season started, Universal chose to release House, M.D. in widescreen form but without enhancement for 16x9 televisions. There is no reason a show that was filmed and broadcast in high definition mere month ago can’t be mastered in anamorphic widescreen for DVD release. None. Based on the similarly-timed Firefly, it should have even fit in the same disc space.

Still, the video quality is watchable. On the scaling Panasonic RP91 and the RPTV, there was a definite lack of detail due to the reduced resolution of the non-anamorphic transfer, but color accuracy and black levels were strong, and I did not detect any jarring edge enhancement or artifacts. Downgrading to the interlaced DVD player and vintage 4x3 display, I did detect some jaggies on the edges, especially on that overhead helicopter shot of the hospital complex—but the rest of the picture looked fine.

If you’ve currently got a 4x3 display, you probably won’t care that the DVD’s are not 16x9 enhanced—but as I’ve been saying for the last eight years, you should. That HDTV you’ve always wanted will be 16x9, and when you play non-anamorphic material on it, I promise you will see the difference.

I am docking the video quality aspect of this review because it was not enhanced for 16x9 displays. Had it been enhanced for 16x9 displays, I probably would have given it a 3.5-4.

Video: 2.5 / 5
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Sound:

The English 5.1 soundtrack is a nice touch, and occasionally active, mostly clear, centered dialogue, and ambient sounds in the other speakers. The music does spread to the rears, as do the cellular-level interior-body zooms. In the episode that involved the leg saw, I felt like it was in the room with me. This was a good 5.1 mix.

While we are on the subject of music, there has been discussion of music substitution. So far, I’ve heard The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, and the main title by Massive Attack. On the surface, this is the original music aired in the United States—if you have any additional information about music substitution, please post it in this thread.

Sound: 4 / 5
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Extras:

A variety of short videos accompany the two episodes on disc 3, side B:

The Concept (4:49) is a talking-head piece the creators and producers. Of course, when David Shore is your creator and Bryan Singer is your producer (and occasional director) it gets to be very interesting.

Casting Session with Hugh Laurie (1:25) is a brief reading from the pilot episode

Medical Cases (4:25) talks about the ideas for all those medical problems (and assures us that more medical mysteries are to come)

Set Tour (5:38) is a behind-the-scenes tour of the set and filming of the show

House-isms (4:03) is a collection of those great, sarcastic House remarks—complete with a little side-commentary by Hugh Laurie and his fellow cast members.

Dr. House (6:37) is a summary look at the House character and Hugh Laurie with cast and creator interviews.

Extras: 4 / 5
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The Differential Diagnosis:
The House, M.D.: Season One DVD is a missed opportunity as far as the video presentation is concerned, but I don’t see that being fixed anytime soon. So, it serves as a way to get caught-up on the show before the next season starts, if you get into a marathon viewing session. Otherwise, TiVo the first few episodes of season 2 and check out season 1 when you can. I really liked the series, and that is the primary basis of this rating.

Overall Rating: 4 / 5
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Release Date: August 30, 2005




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#2 of 22 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted September 05 2005 - 06:46 AM

Thanks for the review.

It's an interesting show, based on the half-dozen episodes I've caught on television.

I'm passing due to the non-anamorphic transfer. I can take a bare-bones release. I can take crappy packaging. I draw the line here, at the loss of a significant amount of resolution on a "rushed" release.

-Scott

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Daniel-M

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Posted September 05 2005 - 07:33 AM

Doublesided and non-anamorpic, i am not going to waist my money on this. I am going to wait until the region 2 comes, at least we will get a 6 disc set

#4 of 22 OFFLINE   ElijahS

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Posted September 05 2005 - 09:00 AM

I won't get it. In addition to the nonanamorphic widescreen, the packaging is shoddy (digipak without an outer case).
- Elijah

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#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 05 2005 - 01:36 PM

There is an outer slip case.

- Steve

#6 of 22 OFFLINE   ElijahS

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Posted September 05 2005 - 01:51 PM

Really? The copy I saw at least looked like it didn't have an outer case. Is it like the Law & Order S14 case where there is no top or bottom?
- Elijah

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#7 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 05 2005 - 01:59 PM

Yes, really, the digipak case slides out of it at the top or bottom. But... there is no show-related insert, no way of telling which episodes are on which discs, and so on. This could have been done better from a packaging perspective.

I am now two episodes into the Chi McBride arc as the billionaire hospital chairman. I have read that he lasts five shows total--looks like I will be able to finish off the other three tonight.

- Steve

#8 of 22 OFFLINE   Jon_Jones

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Posted September 06 2005 - 10:21 AM

My favorite new show of last year, IMO one of the best new shows to come out in a long time. I was definitely looking forward to adding this to my collection but took a PASS due to the lack of anamorphic format.

#9 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 06 2005 - 02:19 PM

Well, I lied. Posted Image I finished the final shows this evening. What a great series.

Season 2 starts in one week!

- Steve

#10 of 22 OFFLINE   RobBenton

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Posted September 10 2005 - 02:58 PM

Both me and my roomate watch a lot of shows and this is one of our favorites (as well as lost). It has some of the sharpest dialogue on TV. The episode "three stories" that you mentioned is also our favorite of the season and right after we watched it we just sat back in awe and commented that it was probably the best episode of any show that season and one of the best written TV episodes we had seen on any show. This is a must see show for anyone who is looking for a good show to watch.

#11 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 18 2005 - 03:02 PM

"Three Stories" won the Emmy tonight for best writing in a drama series. Wow.

- Steve

#12 of 22 OFFLINE   Rakesh.S

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Posted September 18 2005 - 04:25 PM

I am renting the first disc from Netflix to see how the quality is.

It is frustrating that Universal can't do anamorphic widescreen..really inexcusable.

I'll zoom in and watch and if the quality is atrocious(artifacting, ugly picture), I might have to skip the rest of the discs.

#13 of 22 OFFLINE   MatthewLouwrens

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Posted September 18 2005 - 07:12 PM

Quote:
"Three Stories" won the Emmy tonight for best writing in a drama series. Wow.
So, let me get this straight. We can now use the words "Carmen Electra" and "Emmy-award-winning" in the same sentence? (OK, the sentence is "Carmen Electra guest stars in an Emmy-award-winning episode", but it still seems wrong.)

Well done to the House team. A great show, and the winning episode in particular is one of the best hours of television I have seen in a while. All involved can be proud of their efforts.
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#14 of 22 OFFLINE   peggy

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Posted September 19 2005 - 08:24 AM

I am sorry to hear that they did such a poor job in putting this out on dvd because this series deserves better. It has got to be by far one of the best shows on tv right now. Everyone seems to be crazy about Desperate Housewives and Lost and while I watch those shows and enjoy them I could live without them also. I can't say that about House, if it wasn't on I would very upset.

The new season started last week and it is nice to see that it continues to be just as good as it was last season.Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

#15 of 22 OFFLINE   RobBenton

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Posted September 23 2005 - 05:18 PM

Tonight's episode got me a little teary eyed and for me that takes a lot!

#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Meil

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Posted September 23 2005 - 09:34 PM

I fail to understand why people refuse to buy something that is good just because you don't like the nonanamorphic widescreen release. This is one of the best shows on TV right now. I was blown away and watched it in a couple of days. I'm sure the producers and cast are not losing sleep because some people are not buying this. So email the producers and let them know that you didn't like it. Stop wining already!

#17 of 22 OFFLINE   Nigel McN

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Posted September 24 2005 - 03:38 AM

I fail to understand why people should support half assed efforts by the studio to win your dollar. If they want my money they should put their full ass into it!

Seriously Steve this subject is discussed all over this forum, it is unacceptable to many of us, that studios can continue to make these mistakes. If you feel that it make sense to reward the studios with your money for that, well we won't encourage you. But many of us feel that is bad move.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted September 24 2005 - 04:00 AM

The extra resolution provided by an anamorphic transfer can make a visible difference in picture quality on widescreen sets, or on those sets equipped to handle anamorphic content. The show is so new that it should have been trivial to provide an anamorphic transfer. That's why we are complaining.

- Steve

#19 of 22 OFFLINE   RobBenton

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Posted September 24 2005 - 04:17 AM

Actually it seems to me it took more effort to not make it anamorphic widescreen since it was aired in HD they have 720p widescreen digital version of it.. how hard is it to convert it down to 480p and stick it on a dvd? Instead they took the widescreen digital masters and made it letterboxed? That makes no sense at all.

#20 of 22 OFFLINE   EmmaAU

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Posted September 24 2005 - 04:51 AM

So what's a person to do if they want the "House" season 1 dvds? I haven't bought them yet, and I'd be willing to wait if I thought they were going to reissue season 1 in anamorphic, but there's no guarantee of that. If the choice is non-anamorphic dvds or no dvds, eventually I will buy the non-anamorphic dvds. Any "boycott" isn't affecting sales, as far as I can see. I read several Hugh Laurie fan sites and the overwhelming majority of Hugh's fans are women who couldn't care less about anamorphic, if they even know what it is. I tried alerting people on the fan sites to the anamorphic problem, but only one or two people were interested. I think that's what the studio was counting on.