Hughlaurie_houseseason4_240Time for a quick show of hands: After the season’s first episode of House, are we missing the Good Doctor’s fearless underlings, his cottages?

I’m not saying I wouldn’t want Jennifer Morrison, Omar Epps and Jesse Spencer to return to House at some point, but as I indicated in my review of the season’s first two episodes, thus far absence hasn’t necessarily made this heart grow fonder.

Tuesday’s (Sept. 25) season four premiere found Dr. House still working without a diagnostics team, which is to say that he was doing absolutely nothing ("In what twisted universe does mastering Eddie Van Halen’s two-handed arpeggio technique count as ‘absolutely nothing,’" House asked Cuddy when facing accusations of inactivity).

As we discovered in last season’s otherwise uneven "Airborne" episode, as amusingly reliable (and medically productive) as House’s interactions with the cottages may be, there’s at least as much dramatic fodder in a foraging House. Just as he made airplane passengers adapt to his entrenched intellectual routine in "Airborne," Tuesday’s "Alone" episode found House initially using a custodial engineer as his sounding board ("Imagine that the roof of the storage closet collapses on your favorite floor buffer, which then starts overheating." "Why would I have a favorite floor buffer?"), which yielded creative potential diagnoses (Dr. Buffer was quick to suggest lupus) and humor.

Lisaedelstein_house_240_003Tuesday’s episode also served as a reminder that as good as the actors playing House’s condos may be, there isn’t any kind of qualitative drop-off to giving extra screentime to Lisa Edelstein and Robert Sean Leonard (quite the opposite, really). Both Doctors Cuddy and Wilson just wanted House to interview a new team — in fact, neither doctor seemed to have anything else to do around the hospital this week — but they went about it in very different ways.

Did you like Cuddy’s attempts at bargaining and half-hearted administrative sanctions? Well those just led House to consult a Magic Eight Ball, much to Cuddy’s chagrin ("Who are you going to believe, a classic toy or a woman who, if she had any confidence in her ideas, wouldn’t feel the need to distract you with a water bra.").

Or did you prefer Wilson’s attempts to hold House’s guitar hostage? Well that just led to an escalating terror war between the colleagues ("Do you know what terrorists do when you don’t negotiate? They terrorize." "Bring. It. On.") and culminated in Wilson resorting to torture ("You ever tighten a guitar string really, really slowly? Past the point it can handle the strain? It makes this weird… sound… almost like a scream. Eeeeeek."). While the annoying ‘shippers have debated whether House belongs with Cuddy or Cameron, I’ve always just wanted more of House and Wilson together. No, not like that. They’re just fantastic as Odd Couple-style friends.

Next week’s episode — equally good, if you ask me — involves the introduction of a new set of potential cottages. Will the Cameron-esque E.R. doc with the allegedly lopsided breasts make a return? I wouldn’t dare give that away.

Other thoughts on the week’s episode:

  • The main case was a bit of a cheat, somewhat weakened by the fact that I looked at the patient and said "Boy, that’s a weird make-up job, since she looks nothing like the woman from the opening scene." I’m often irked by how rarely House’s patients die and I don’t know how this week’s case counts in the equation. And are we supposed to view the ending as a tragic validation of the love between a geek and the woman who lied about loving Star Wars for him?
  • Robertseanleonard_house_240_002Wanna talk about an obscure pop culture reference? Try House and Wilson discussing Raid on Entebbe, a 1977 telefilm starring an all-star list of craggy period character actors including Peter Finch, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, John Saxon, Horst Buchholz and Yaphet Kotto as Idi Amin Dada.
  • Best line of dialogue? "You test drive a car before you buy it. You have sex before you get married. I can’t hire a team based on a 10-minute interview. What if I don’t like having sex with them?"
  • Best throw-away gag? House flipping up his handicapped placard to get good parking before breaking into his patient’s apartment.

    So what’d you think of the cottage-free House?

  • Posted by:Daniel Fienberg