Reviewed by NDB
Once known as the network of When [insert some sort of threatening animal and/or person] Attack, Fox has really expanded its one-hour drama slate into a force to contend with. House follows the shift that started with 24 beautifully.
Dr. Gregory House is a brilliant physician and have no doubt, he’s very much aware of this certainty. Bordering on a God complex, he takes on medical mysteries that baffle others and tries to teach three doctors (Dr. Eric Foreman, Dr. Allison Cameron and Dr. Robert Chase) how to follow in his footsteps. The three have varying degrees of belief in his methods. His one friend is the hospital’s oncologist Dr. James Wilson and his constantly frustrated boss at the teaching hospital is Dr. Lisa Cuddy.
In “Meaning”, House returns from rehabilitation after gunshot wounds and a chemical coma. This is a new House, displayed in the very opening as he jogs to work. The persistent pain in his leg no longer bothers him and he’s dropped his abuse of prescription medicine – formerly two key qualities to his character. First day back, House takes on two paralysis cases. One is the case of a man, Richard, paralyzed by brain cancer surgery who purposefully takes a dip into a pool. The second is a young woman, Caren, paralyzed by yoga, but showing no actual signs of a break. House confuses the staff around him with signs of concern for the man’s wife Arlene and son Mark. When he appears to be grasping at straws, Cameron and Foreman outright refuse to follow his lead. As always, the initial diagnosis for each patient has little to do with the resolution of the mystery.
Hugh Laurie (Stuart Little, Flight of the Phoenix) is still the ideal egoist as Dr. House. It’s great to see the character expanded beyond the pain and drug use. I have a feeling this season will really delve into the mind of House and the consequences of his “rebirth”. As House’s conscience, the rest of the cast play their roles admirably, but make no mistake, this is Laurie’s show. Lisa Edelstein (Felicity, The West Wing) somehow pulls off the impossible in her role of Dr. Lisa Cuddy and keeps House in check. Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society, Chelsea Walls) is a believable confident as Dr. James Wilson. Jennifer Morrison (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Surviving Christmas) plays Cameron with the deep level empathy the character requires. Jesse Spencer’s (Uptown Girls, Swimming Upstream) take on Chase is full of snobbish glee. Omar Epps (The Mod Squad, ER) gives Foreman the weight of someone who deeply admires House, but strives to learn and ultimately be better.
The guest cast in this episode is also solid. Clare Kramer (Bring It On, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) played Caren. Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13, The Doors) and Carter Jenkins (Surface, Bad News Bears) came in as Arlene and Mark, respectively.
Unlike Bones, where the antisocial lead is generally unaware of how to handle people, Dr. Gregory House knows and just doesn’t care. In fact, he takes pleasure in pushing people’s buttons and I think that the audience enjoys this as cathartic schadenfreude. If this episode is the proper indication, this season shows no signs of lowering the high bar set by the previous two. Returning viewers will be pleased and people who aren’t watching this show will continue to miss out.