Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rehabilitating House

House has been my favorite TV show since I started watching it in it's second season. I've since gone back and watched the first season on DVD, and it is one of the few shows on television of which I have seen every episode. Although smartest in the first three seasons, when its modern day Sherloc Doc's shock-value was still fresh, the show remains one of the sharpest things on TV, weathering both an unexpected depature and the 2007-8 writer's strike; a black maelstrom that profoundly fucked up other shows.

I cannot deny that the weekly medical mysteries have grown considerably less memorable and intriguing with each passing season, but the show soldiers on by virtue of its excellent plotting: Every season, the writers throw in a story developments or characters who complicate existing character relationships, tweaking the formula just enough to keep things interesting. Despite its callous exterior, House M.D. is at heart, a soap opera, and most of these story-arcs entail perilous romances between characters. Every once in a while, the show uses something other than sexual tension to reinvent itself however, producing some voraciously watchable story arcs. I favored the arcs featuring antagonists Michael Tritter and Vogler over the maybe romances with Cameron and Stacy. My personal favorite arc might have been the season 3 finale which saw House firing his entire team and segued into medical internship survivor.

In my humble yet paradoxically loud and insistent opinion, Season Five was the show's darkest hour. Wilson's drawn-out estrangement from House was unrealistically reconciled in a single episode, Kal Penn's sudden departure left a gaping wound in the team's dynamics, and sin of all sins, the writers pushed House' flirtatious non-relationship with Cuddy towards something approaching a legitimate romance. It's obvious that they'll wind up together in the end, but once we get there -surprise- it's the end! Or at least it'd better be. The last thing I want to see is House and Cuddy work through a season of romantic minutiae. Consequently I've come to regard the pairing as the speed-boat pulling House towards a shark jump. While it pains me to admit it, the show may already be air born.

Shore and Co. seem to be aware of this impending danger as they are taking a huge risk with this new season by having House's character explore the one area he never dared venture before: mental stability. The season premiere restored my faith in the show by managing to believably portray House's rehabilitation as a drug addict and a human being. Making a character do a one eighty like that after five years of story telling is a hell of a feat. Doing it in the space of two hours is nothing short of incredible. The premiere also introduced the clever, tremendously likable shrink Nolan and Lydia; an intriguing, alternative love interest for House, though we have been led to believe that she has already left his life forever. Given the show's maxim (Everybody Lies), I'm remaining skeptical, but I have some hope for House yet.

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