It’s all about “House” tonight on FOX as the medical drama wraps up its eight-year run with an emotional episode, directed by series creator and executive producer David Shore, plus a one-hour retrospective that will feature interviews and a look back with the stars and producers.
“It’s definitely an ending,” Shore said in a call to discuss putting his creation to its final rest. “I don’t want to say more than that. We never do happy endings, but we also try not to simply do miserable endings. Bittersweet is the most you can hope for from us.”
In the “Swan Song/Everybody Dies” episode, House (Hugh Laurie) treats a drug addict patient (James LeGros), which gives him pause to examine his own life and personal demons — and he does it with a little help from his friends.
Former cast member Olivia Wilde (Thirteen) returned for the penultimate episode and is staying around for the finale, where she will be joined by Jennifer Morrison (Dr. Alison Cameron), Kal Penn (the late Dr. Lawrence Kutner), and Jesse Spencer (Dr. Robert Chase), who was given an early write-out to enable him to join the cast of “Chicago Fire,” which will air on NBC this fall, but returns for the last hurrah.
“The idea for this final episode will start to become clear when you see it,” Shore says. “There were many things that I liked about this idea. It allowed us to explore who [House] was, the nature of his character and take a look at his value as a human being. It also allowed us to naturally bring back other people, so I started making phone calls.”
See how the “House” cast celebrated the series finale:
In this interview, Shore also talks about “House”‘s legacy, the decision to give Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) inoperable cancer, that he has no regrets about putting House and Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) together, and more.
When people look back years from now, what do you want them to most remember about the show?
The message I hoped to be saying basically every week was this was who this guy is and what he stands for. So it’s really about the character and what the character stands for, which is really the pursuit of truth, the not just blindly following things, really asking yourself what is reality here and what is the right thing to do. That search for an objective truth is the thing that I fundamentally found the most interesting throughout the life of the show.
What do you think are the highlights of the series and what are you sorry you did that was possibly a mistake?
Oh, I’m not going to answer the second part of that question. We made no mistakes. No, I’m sure we made mistakes. I know we made mistakes. It’s one of those things, though, where you keep going and you can’t really assess it because there’s no point in that; you can’t do it over again. You make decisions, you make choices, and you’re never going to know if they’re the ideal choices, but you make choices and you make the most of them. There are things we did that I’m quite proud of. There are episodes we did that I’m extremely proud of, and most of them, most of them. The House/Wilson relationship, I think, from day one has been a great one. I think constantly refreshing the show [with new cast members] was a risky move, but I’m proud of it because it worked more often than it didn’t. I think the show, it’s basically a procedural show, but it has enough serialized elements that it could get tiresome, and I’m sure some people believe it did. It didn’t for me, so I think we kept it fresh enough in giving new situations, which is sort of against the instincts of a network show, and I’m grateful to them for letting us do it.
Now that you’ve had a chance to do the retrospective and to have House do some thinking in the last episode, when you look back at the show now what surprises you about what it has become and about what House has become?
The fact that I’ve got 24 people on the phone right now listening to my answers to these questions surprises me. The most fundamental surprise to me is that it has wound up being more than a niche audience, although in this day and age you can have very large niche audiences. Right from the beginning, from the time we cast Hugh, I knew it was going to be a show that I would like. I thought maybe some people who were a little like me would like it. I never imagined it would get the following it has gotten, and the international following. And that’s kind of reassuring on many levels.
Can you talk about the decision to have Wilson get sick?
Yes. It’s one of those things, every year, a couple of times a year, we sit down and go, “What do we do to these people? What situations do we throw them into?” And it’s all about which type of situation can give rise to opportunities to explore the character of House and to explore the characters around him. So a lot of ideas are bandied about every year, and one of the ideas that was bandied about, as we were pretty sure we were heading towards the end of the show, was this idea, and it fell into the category of challenging and exploring the House/Wilson friendship. I think the House/Wilson relationship is one of the things that we’ve done very well on this show, if I do say so. There are a lot of explorations on TV of romantic relationships, and some are good and some are bad. I think there are very few explorations of male friendship; not just a wingman-type friendship, not just an opportunity for humor, but to really explore two friends and their relationship. I think it’s something we’ve done and done well that isn’t done that often. I’m proud of it. So it felt like the right idea to explore as we headed towards the end of the series.
Do you ever have any regrets about pairing up House with Cuddy?
No, because I’m not big on regrets. That’s not to say it was perfect. I do fundamentally believe that we had to do it, and I know a lot of people think we could have done it better, a lot of people think we shouldn’t have done it, and a lot of people think once we did it, we should have kept them together. It’s been a bit of a lightening rod. I think it was going to be a lightening rod no matter what we did. I’m not saying we did everything perfect, I’m not saying we did things horribly either; I think we did a lot of stuff really well. I think it was a difficult thing to do. Well, it’s an impossible thing to do without getting that sort of response. But fundamentally, we had to do it. You can’t have people just go on; you can’t have sexual tension go on and on and on and on. And it was there from the beginning and I enjoyed working with it from the beginning, but at a certain point we had to put them together.
The two-hour “House” series finale event begins on Monday, May 21 at 8/7c on FOX with a one-hour retrospective, followed by the final episode of the series.