House finale: it’s never too late to enjoy yourself

House creator David Shore with Hugh Laurie before the final ride

No matter how old you are, we all need this handy reminder: “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.”

The jaunty and delicious Louis Prima version of the old Guy Lombardo tune Enjoy Yourself played under the conclusion of House. The series finale aired Monday night on Fox and Global.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched it yet, look away now. Details about the finale follow.
House (Hugh Laurie) and his pal Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), the latter terminally ill but still sound enough to ride, are on their Harley’s in the middle of a trestle, about to head along a winding country road under a canopy of high-reaching trees. Wilsonstarts to float his usual note of caution, but House shuts him down with, “Cancer is boring.” The two set off to seize the day.
The positive ending came after a dark episode where House lies surrounded by flames in a burning warehouse. He goes through one last dark night of the soul, wrestling with demons within and without who debate him on the merits of suicide. House seems ready to end it all, finding his life meaningless with the impending death of Wilson compounded with his own unbreakable pattern of self destructive behaviour. Even saving lives no longer has any meaning for him, with “everybody dies” having replaced “everybody lies” as his mantra.
In what seemed like a dream sequence. House wakes up on the floor of the darkened warehouse next to his last patient, a heroin addict. Dr. Scrooge is visited by several ghosts from the past, including Kutner (Kal Penn) and “Cutthroat Bitch” (Anne Dudek). Living characters such as ex-wife Stacey (Sela Ward) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) also get inside House’s head.
Missing, sadly, was Cuddy (Lisa Edlestein). This would have been the dramatic cherry on top. But Edlestein’s failure to come to terms with the producers at the end of last season after being asked to take a pay cut must have been too much of a slap in the face. Too bad, she would have been the ultimate one to slap House out of it.
Instead, Wilson and Foreman (Omar Epps) seemingly arrive too late to save House. Rescue workers pull a body out in the early morning. Dental records are checked. A funeral is held and everyone pays their respects, including Thirteen (Olivia Wilde), Chase (Jesse Spencer), Taub (Peter Jacobson), Masters (Amber Tamblyn) and Park (Charlyn Yi).
Executive producer David Shore even found ways to sneak Andre Braugher back into the mix. There was even a glimpse of Shore’s old Hackpal David Morse. All of that just made Edlestein’s absence felt even sharper.
Wilson goes off page in his tribute, venting that House was really just a selfish ass.
Leonard and Laurie on set in the special, enjoying cognac
Just when it looks like “everyone dies” applies to House himself, there is redemption. Wilsongets a text mid speech to shut up. House is alive and—having risen—ready to head out on that last heavenly ride with Wilson.
The ending, for me, had echoes of Casablanca. It looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
While it seemed a bit too pat for House to get away with murder like that, that’s really what he did for eight seasons. Enjoy Yourselfelevated the ending, a perfect note of joy over sorrow, optimism over pessimism, hope over despair. (Anybody else remember this song being co-opted as a beer jingle in the ’60s: “Enjoy yourself, take time for 50 Ale”?)
Jeers to Global, however, which drowned out the final grace note–Warren Zevon singing Keep Me in Your Heart for a While over the end credits–with promotional blather. For all the millions of viewers this show deliver the past eight seasons, you’d think they could have shown 20 seconds of respect and restraint.
The preceding hour, a tribute to the series, was excellent. It saluted the actors and crew and gave fans a detailed glimpse into the inner workings of a hit show like no other series ending salute I’ve ever seen. Viewers got a real sense of how elaborate some of the shooting was, especially that upside down bus episode, shot inside a specially constructed cage that almost resembled a midway ride. When Househad to spend money, they spend big money.
It ended with Laurie and Leonard in tuxes, shooting up the set with paintballs. Nice.

Follow @BillBriouxTV

2 Responses to “House finale: it’s never too late to enjoy yourself”

  1. The same non-death ending – two nights in row. Sherlock (via PBS), House.
    And the original 10-year wait:
    http://classicquarters.blogspot.ca/2012/05/empty-house-once-more.html

    On an another return actor note: didn’t that recent Kathy Bates’ episode scream for (a hint of) a Charlie Sheen cameo? From a non-standard hospital room set, odd how ALL the other regulars were only filmed while standing behind a curtain.

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  2. That’s great that they had a retrospective episode, and I almost missed the finale yesterday if it wasn’t for my Hopper satellite receiver from Dish. I forgot to set my DVR to record it, but I realized that the Primetime Anytime feature on my Hopper automatically records all my primetime network shows from NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. The retrospective hour before the finale (which also got recorded too) was a perfect ending to the series really highlighting what made it so much fun to watch. I found out from a co-worker at Dish that there’s also a great new feature on the Hopper called Auto Hop that allows me to automatically skip commercials the day after primetime programs are recorded. That’s a good thing considering I didn’t get home last night until after 1am when I got the chance to try it out. It’s an awesome feature to have on my DVR. My only question is where was Cuddy?

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