Dr. House is hanging up his cane.
The network will conclude the long-running medical drama House this season.
“The decision to end the show now, or ever, is a painful one, as it risks putting asunder hundreds of close friendships that have developed over the last eight years — but also because the show itself has been a source of great pride to everyone involved,” said executive producers David Shore, Katie Jacobs and star Hugh Laurie in a joint statement. “The producers have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.”
House is produced by Universal Television and the question has been raised in the past if the studio’s sister network NBC would pick up the show if Fox cancels it. Sources say there’s no plans to take the drama to NBC, however, and NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said last month it was unlikely the network would pick up the show given its age and cost. It also seems rather unlikely a cable network would be able to afford the show.
House‘s current eighth season ratings have remained solid, particularly for a drama airing at 8 p.m. The Monday night show averaged 9.8 million viewers and a 3.9 rating in the adult demo this season through early January when including seven days of DVR playback. But the most recent episode delivered 7.1 million viewers and a 2.5 rating in the overnights up against NBC’s The Voice. TV shows get more expensive with each passing year as cast and producer salaries climb, while their ratings tend to decrease. So dramas rarely make it past a sixth year, let alone eight seasons.
Another factor in the decision has been the performance of a few of Fox’s new dramas, Bones-spinoff The Finder, House companion Alcatraz and fall dino drama Terra Nova. The better these freshman shows perform, the thinking goes, the less chance Fox will need to pony up for another year of House. All three have performed OK in the ratings, though Alcatraz took a worrisome dip this week.
Last year, the House renewal went down to the wire, with House getting a pickup days before Fox’s upfront presentation in May. In November, star Hugh Laurie said he expects to retire from TV acting once the show goes off the air.
Though House has won many awards, two top prizes have remained elusive — the Emmys for best actor for series star Hugh Laurie and best drama series for the show itself (though Laurie has won a Golden Globe — twice — for the part).
Full statement from producers and Laurie:
After much deliberation, the producers of House M.D. have decided that this season of the show, the 8th, should be the last. By April this year they will have completed 177 episodes, which is about 175 more than anyone expected back in 2004.
The decision to end the show now, or ever, is a painful one, as it risks putting asunder hundreds of close friendships that have developed over the last eight years – but also because the show itself has been a source of great pride to everyone involved.
Since it began, House has aspired to offer a coherent and satisfying world in which everlasting human questions of ethics and emotion, logic and truth, could be examined, played out, and occasionally answered. This sounds like fancy talk, but it really isn’t. House has, in its time, intrigued audiences around the world in vast numbers, and has shown that there is a strong appetite for television drama that relies on more than prettiness or gun play.
But now that time is drawing to a close. The producers have always imagined House as an enigmatic creature; he should never be the last one to leave the party. How much better to disappear before the music stops, while there is still some promise and mystique in the air.
The producers can never sufficiently express their gratitude to the hundreds of dedicated artists and technicians who have given so generously of their energy and talent to make House the show it has been – and perhaps will continue to be for some time, on one cable network or another. [Note: This line seems to suggest the show might get shopped around, but sources say they were likely referring to syndicated repeats].
The makers of House would also like to thank Fox Broadcasting and Universal Television for supporting the show with patience, imagination and large quantities of good taste. The Studio-As-Evil-Adversary is one of the many clichés that House has managed to avoid, and for that the cast and crew are deeply grateful.
Lastly, the audience: some have come and some have gone, obviously. This is to be expected in the life of any show. But over the course of the last eight years, the producers of House have felt immensely honored to be the subject of such close attention by an intelligent, discriminating, humane and thoughtful – not to mention numerous – audience. Even the show’s detractors have been flattering in their way. Making the show has felt like a lively and passionate discussion about as many different subjects as could possibly be raised in 177 hours. The devotion and generosity of our viewers has been marvelous to behold.
So, finally, everyone at House will bid farewell to the audience and to each other with more than a few tears, but also with a deep feeling of gratitude for the grand adventure they have been privileged to enjoy for the last eight years. If the show lives on somewhere, with somebody, as a fond memory, then that is a precious feat, of which we will always be proud.
From Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly:
While it’s with much regret, and a lump in our throats, we respect the decision Hugh, David and Katie have made. A true original, on the page and amazingly brought to life by Hugh Laurie, there is only one Dr. House. For eight seasons, the entire House team has given us – and fans around the world – some of the most compelling characters and affecting stories ever seen on television. They have been creatively tenacious and collaborative throughout this incredible run, and they are amongst the most superior talents in the business. For all the above, we wholeheartedly thank them, and the fans who have supported the show.
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