A s a concept there doesn't seem to be much going for "House, M.D." Fox's remix of the typical medical drama has a team of overachieving doctors facing a weekly medical mystery that they must race to solve. It seems so very "CSI" meets "ER." But Hugh Laurie's portrayal of the title character is so compelling that the show, which comes to DVD this Tuesday, is a study of how one dynamic character can make a prime-time network hit.
Let's not be misunderstood: Laurie makes the show. Without his eminently watchable turn as a crippled, antisocial, possibly sociopathic, painkiller-addicted but quite brilliant doctor, this would be just another white
lab coat snoozefest. Sure, a cool soundtrack and nifty special effects give the operating-table action a hip edge, and it is hard to fault the acting of supporters Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer -- but we've seen all that before in prime time.
Logically the DVD set focuses the balance of its bonus features on Laurie. The featurettes "Dr. House," "The Concept" and "House-isms" each look at the character and the show (there is no real need to differentiate) from a different angle, while footage from Laurie's casting session illuminates how early he took command of the role.
Two other extras, "Medical Cases" and "Set Tour" take a look at the show's filming and its real-life story inspirations. These are the weakest of the set.
As the 22 installments of the drama's first season unfold across the set's three discs, the show's other characters become stronger. That's good news for the show's future: As great as Laurie is as Dr. House, it's questionable whether his performance alone can sustain the program.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment; DVD $59.98; not rated; available Tuesday
New on DVD:
The Blues Brothers -- 25th Anniversary Edition (Universal Studios Home Video: two-disc DVD $22.98; rated R; available Tuesday) Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi are the legendary Chicago bluesmen in this comedy classic. The set includes a making-of featurette, an introduction to the film by Dan Aykroyd, a day on the Blues Brothers tour, a featurette on the music, a John Belushi memorial segment and musical highlights.
Monster-in-Law (Warner Home Video: DVD $28.98; rated PG-13; available Tuesday) Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda battle it out as a bride and the obsessive and merciless mother of the groom. Includes commentary with director Robert Luketic, Wanda Sykes, producer Chris Bender, production designer Missy Stewart and director of photography Russell Carpenter; the featurettes "Welcome Back, Jane Fonda," "Keeping it Real with Jennifer" and "Vartan, the Man"; a gag reel; and deleted scenes.
Ong-Bak -- The Thai Warrior (Fox Home Entertainment: DVD $27.98; rated R; available Tuesday) Tony Jaa stars in this martial-arts film that uses no digital or wire effects to enhance the action. Includes behind-the-scenes stunt footage, making-of materials and a featurette on the eight movements of Muay Thai.
Roseanne -- The Complete First Season (Anchor Bay Entertainment: four-disc DVD $39.98; not rated; available Tuesday) All 23 episodes of the influential sitcom's first season appear in this set that also includes interviews with Roseanne and John Goodman, bloopers and a Season One highlight reel.
Sahara (Paramount Home Video: DVD $29.95; rated PG-13; available Tuesday) Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn and Penelope Cruz star in this action adventure film. With commentary by director Breck Eisner and deleted scenes.
Tommy Boy -- Holy Schnike Edition (Paramount Home Video: two-disc DVD $19.99; rated PG-13; available Tuesday) A special edition of the comedy classic starring Chris Farley and David Spade that includes commentary by director Peter Segal, deleted scenes and a gag reel.