House Ends Eight-Year Run Tonight

“House” ends its eight-year run tonight and Hugh Laurie is glad that they got to the end with their “dignity intact.”

He says they never did anything out of character, like having a “House gets a puppy” episode. He says that gives him “huge satisfaction.”

“House” has enjoyed a healthy run that included audiences of 20 million and more at its peak, four Emmy nominations for best drama and six for Laurie.

Houses’ weaknesses, including an addiction to Vicodin and chronic leg pain that causes him to limp, helped humanize him, says Laurie, who perfected the limp and American accent for the role.

From a different angle, series creator David Shore says, “He’s a 15-year-old boy. He just does what he wants to do, which is a very attractive thing. We worked really hard to make it smart and funny, and Hugh is unbelievable in that role. I can give all the credit in the world to Hugh – and I am.”

If House the character demanded more from an audience than the typical TV hero, so has House the series. “It was about something. It tackled ethics and morals and existential questions of religion, sex, love and marriage. It took on a great many things,” Laurie says.

House premiered November 16, 2004, to modest ratings, starting well short of hit status. “I just wanted a large enough audience so I could keep telling my stories,” Shore says.

In its peak season, 2006-2007, the show averaged 19.3 million viewers. Numbers have slipped in recent years, and the show is now averaging 8.6 million viewers.

Shore, with Laurie and executive producer Katie Jacobs, decided to end the show this season because of uncertainties about the future in such matters as budgets and casting.

“My worry was, if it’s not going to get resolved in time, and it was looking like it wasn’t going to get resolved in time, we’re going to wind up not being able to end the series the way we want,” Shore says. “If we can’t do it the way we want to do it, let’s go out while we’re still feeling good about it.”

The time feels right to Laurie too. “You cannot have a character on the ledge threatening to jump forever, because at some point the crowd gathered below is going to start to drift away. The guy’s got to jump or climb back into the building.”

An hour-long retrospective show will air before the hour-long series finale at 9pm. (AP, USA Today)

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