About Last Night: There's No Place Like House For the Holidays

Fox decided to hold back its last new episodes of House for sweeps once the strike got under way, which is why last night's episode had a Christmas theme. But people who have missed the show -- it's been two whole months since the end of the selection process for the new team -- were no doubt in no mood to complain.

A woman holding onto a rope while her daughter climbed a wall lost feeling in her hands and dropped the rope as the girl was descending. Foreman and the new three Houselings (who are still not in the main credits, interestingly) talked over the case and mused over whether House would be keeping all of them. House believed the woman's situation might be drug-related. Maggie was only 35 and had a double mastectomy years before due to a serious family history of breast cancer. House talked to Maggie's daughter, who suffered a broken arm in the fall, in an attempt to see if the woman might be lying. It turned out that mom and daughter had a strict policy of never lying to each other, to the point where the girl knew what her mom's preferred sexual positions were. The woman had a track record of multiple sexual partners; Foreman and Taub looked into whether one of her partners might have drugged her. One of them admitted giving her Ecstasy. The woman seemed to be recovering when she suddenly exclaimed that she couldn't see.

House presided over a Secret Santa drawing with the associates, and put his name on all the slips of paper; later, he borrowed Wilson's iPhone and pretended it was a present in order to put pressure on the others to improve his gift. An angiogram on Maggie seemed to rule out a vascular issue; her eyes were normal as well. Foreman suggested there might be a psychological issue. House told the daughter she needed to help them lie to her, because her mom's real issue was depression. Maggie's swollen lymph nodes cut off her breathing, which sent House back to the drawing board since psychology wouldn't cause that. House treated another patient that he believed was a prostitute who had gotten a weird rash from, um, an interaction with a donkey.

Reading Maggie's emails, House believed she had sarcoidosis. She tested negative for it, but Maggie was now bleeding out of her eye sockets, and an attempt to retrieve bone marrow led to the realization that her bones had gotten extremely hard. Maggie had to admit that she had told one lie to her daughter: the girl was adopted, which was why she had tried to fight having the girl's bone marrow tested. In the way he always does, House got an epiphany and injected Maggie with a substance that leads to the growth of breast tissue: it seemed some stray cells were still in her body and acting up. House plunged a syringe into a swollen area on the back of Maggie's knee and squirted it into the girl's mouth, which grossed her out until she realized it was only milk. The episode ended with House going to church to see the "prostitute' with her donkey -- it was a live nativity scene. [Polite Dissent]

American Idol (FOX):

The show headed to Omaha for auditions for the first time, which meant plenty of commentary about corn and some very polite singers -- even the Goth girl didn't seem to have her heart in it. Hopes were raised by Paula Abdul's absence from the first part of the proceedings due to her missing her flight, but she wobbled in eventually.

First up was Chris Bernheisel, a 25-year-old who looked 18 and hailed from Fremont, Nebraska, where he has probably been beaten up at one time or another by everyone in town. He couldn't sing but Simon Cowell suggested he ask to cover the season finale for the local Fox affiliate. Jason Rich was a generic country singer and cute boy who the show was obviously eager to put through, since they gave him four chances to remember his lyrics. Rachel Wicker was another in the line of blonde country singers Idol has favored this season, although her tomboy qualities may make her more memorable than the others. A very pretty and very shy girl named Samantha Sidley sang the Norah Jones tune "Don't Know Why" in a quavery but Jonesian voice, and was advanced based on potential.

A quick montage of three golden ticket winners included Denise Jackson, who got a segment in last season's auditions as "the crack baby," and Elizabeth Erkert, who said she was still in the running to be America's next top model. Angelica Puente had a story about a distant father and a vocal style that owed everything to the most excessive singers of the last decade, especially Celine Dion. She was put through, as was David Cook, as a "rocker" with a strong voice but a mechanical demeanor. Johnny Escamilla pronounced himself weird and wasn't kidding. Leo Marlowe called himself a "homecoming queen," which seemed to signal a train wreck ahead, but he was surprisingly solid. Nineteen people in all made it to Hollywood, and we actually saw a fair percentage of them for once. [Girls Talkin' Smack]

The Biggest Loser (NBC):

Maggie and Jenn were upset at Kelly for seeming to suggest they weren't putting forth enough effort. Bob and Jillian were surprised to be told that the two of them would be competing in a new challenge, with the winner picking the teams he/she would be training with. The trainers had to run up a moving escalator; the first to do it ten times would win. Bob topped Jillian and selected three teams: Mark/Jay, Roger/Trent, and Jackie/Dan. Brittany and Bernie, part of Bob's original team, were disappointed about being passed over.

The first new team challenge commenced: the teams had to get on the escalator and start walking, and whoever the last loser was to hang in there would win. Brittany's teammates left her alone to compete against the last three on Bob's team (Mark, Jay, and Dan), and she caved after 24 minutes. Jillian went into Brittany's issues with food, which seemed to have been sparked by her father's death at a young age. Jillian worked her team pre weigh-in, and Bob introduced his team to yoga. The temptation challenge involved having to drink cups of pop in order to find the cup that would permit losers to designate one player on the other team to not have their weight count at the weigh-in. No one bit on the temptation.

At the weigh-in, Jillian's team was smoked due in part to Kelly's failure to lose anything and Paul actually gaining three pounds. With individual eliminations now, Maggie was safe as the biggest loser on her team. Paul and Kelly were helped by others who felt that the team needed to keep its biggest members, and Jenn ended up getting eliminated. She has now lost 53 pounds. [Workout Mommy]

One Tree Hill (CW):

Lindsey showed Lucas an old picture, which put him in the reminiscing mood. Three years before, he was in college helping to coach the Cobras as they were challenging for a championship, and trying to keep in touch with Peyton long distance. The championship game came down to a critical late possession, and Whitey handed over play-calling duties to Lucas. Nathan's shot won the game. Whitey said he was stepping down since Lucas was now ready to take over the team (a college student as coach happens all the time), and he reminded Lucas there were more important things than basketball.

After the game, Nathan attacked a fan heckling him about his point shaving; Whitey warned him about his temper. Lucas flew out to California to surprise Peyton at work, and he wondered why she was wasting her time on grunt work. Peyton came by Lucas's room at the (naturally) Beverly Hilton and saw that he had brought an engagement ring. He told her he realized nothing was important without her beside him, but Peyton told him that Tree Hill wasn't as alluring to her as to him, and she wanted to stay in LA and pursue her dream as he was currently pursuing his. She said they were 19 and could wait, but Lucas was worried about them growing apart. She said she wanted to get married someday, just not now. Peyton fell asleep next to him, and Lucas thoughtfully left her behind, even leaving the gift CD she had given him on the pillow. As he was at the airport, Lucas got a phone call from Lindsey, who told him she loved the novel and that her company wanted to publish it. He needed to get to New York pronto. Lindsey told Lucas his writing had truth and soul, but still needed some tweaks. Brooke met Lucas in New York; she told him about the plans her mother had for her. Lucas told Brooke he had broken up with Peyton; she couldn't believe he had been so silly as to give her an ultimatum. Lucas and Brooke posed as an engaged couple and collected all sorts of freebies. She brought him back to his hotel room, but turned down his pass. Brooke urged him to throw himself into his work, and consider approaching Peyton a little bit down the line.

Victoria had seen the engagement ring and worried Brooke was making a huge mistake, but Brooke set her straight and agreed to the plans Victoria had made for the clothing line and the magazine. Nathan thanked Haley for supporting him and said they were now unstoppable. Lucas gave Lindsey the same "lucky bamboo" she later tried to give to Peyton in the present day...and back in today, Lindsey wondered if Lucas's memories could be fodder for a new book. [Raked]

Nip/Tuck (FX):

Two newlyweds came in for a consult. The couple was trapped in a snow bank in a car for ten days, and the man woke up with unusual gouges in his arm. His wife admitted what had happened: she was hypoglycemic and was beginning to suffer serious problems, and so the hubby gouged out small pieces of flesh and fed them to her. She vomited while recounting the story, and I felt like joining her.

Sean was operating on the assumption that Gina had committed suicide, and suggested Christian spend time with Wilbur. The teacher at his preschool said Wilbur had bit another child. Christian said he had not yet told Wilbur his mother had killed herself, and the teacher (knowing nothing about Gina) said he needed to be told, for the sake of everyone. Sean's agent Colleen came in for a consult, and showed Sean her hammertoes. She wanted them taken care of before awards season. Some guys from CAA dropped by the operating room in the middle of a procedure, wanting to give Sean some high-powered representation. Christian visited the morgue worker who was trying to reconstruct Gina for her funeral, and he actually sounded tender speaking to her corpse.

The cannibal's husband had serious complications in recovery, a result of septic shock. Colleen found out that Sean had new representation, and did not take the news well. Gina's funeral was packed with folks from her sex addicts' group, all of whom eulogized her by praising her numerous sexual talents. The man who said he was responsible for giving Gina HIV also spoke. Wilbur bit another child in day care and the teacher told Christian that she didn't think she could let it go anymore. She changed her mind after having sex with Christian, and then bit him. When Christian realized she and not Wilbur was probably biting the kids, she was defiant until Christian said he was an expert at taking indentations.

The husband continued to fade, requiring a hospitalization. His wife showed Sean the flesh she carved out of her own arm and fed to the husband in sympathy, which Sean said probably caused the infection, since human flesh is filthy (believe it or not, things get worse). Colleen hosted the CAA guy at her home, and she made it clear she was not going to take the loss of Sean lying down. As he was about to leave, Colleen whacked him with a wine bottle and then tied him up with duct tape. She then killed him by blasting the stuffing that she used to make her teddy bears into his mouth (this was worse). The teacher was taken to the police station to have her tooth impression taken -- but after having the teeth capped. Sean performed plastic surgery on the wife's arm (as Billy Idol's "Flesh For Fantasy" played on the soundtrack).

Christian said the teacher was fired, but couldn't be prosecuted. Sean urged Christian to tell Wilbur his mom was dead. Colleen's foot was not recovering optimally because she didn't follow instructions; she apologized to Sean for "misbehaving" and wished him well at CAA. Sean told Colleen that he was staying with her because his agent had sent an email saying he was quitting to work with Darfur refugees. Christian gave Wilbur a puppy, and told him that Mommy wouldn't be coming back. That teddy bear thing was even more disturbing than it sounds, trust me.

Real Housewives of Orange County (Bravo):

The "confessions" reunion show. The first viewer's question was: Why do the women always have "boob" hanging out? They agreed that it was the southern California thing to do (Quinn, the worst offender in this area, wasn't even present for this question). The next question, about embarrassing moments, had Tamra regretting her dirty dancing. There was a montage of hijinks, mostly Vikki drinking. She said she wouldn't want to do that again, but she got caught up in the moment. She defended herself against a viewer's charge that she was a hypocrite and an indifferent parent. One of the wives' gay fans asked how they would handle it if one of their kids came out, and Lauri admitted she had a gay brother who died of AIDS.

Lauri answered questions about how much her wedding cost, and rehashed the entire engagement process. She said Josh entered rehab and was now working at a restaurant. Tamra said her husband was fine with her smaller breasts. The ladies said their reputation for having lots of plastic surgery was unfounded, since there was a lot you could do to your body without surgery. Tamra said she would not necessarily say no if Playboy asked her to pose. Quinn, the world's most sexually immature fiftysomething woman, came on and denied she had even kissed her boy toy Jared. She said that those at her church had no issue with her being on the show. What Quinn wanted, she said, was a guy who was in her age group, but also wild. She admitted her breasts were fake, which surprised me since that size implant isn't often seen outside adult entertainment.

Vikki admitted her marriage had suffered during the time she had built her business up, and Don had told her he needed things to change. Tammy said her daughters were continuing to recover from the death of their father. Vikki said she regretted the blowup with Jeana, but the two continued to spar mildly over the Frankie issue. Jeana said her self-esteem was hurt by the criticism from her husband, from whom she is now separated. The other housewives were supportive of and sympathetic for Jeana. Jo popped in to say that her music career was going swimmingly. [Pretty on the Outside]

In Treatment (HBO):

A new patient arrived: Alex (Blair Underwood). He began his first session by saying he heard Paul was the best, and asked if he recognized him. Alex said he had been called "the Madrasa Murderer" after accidentally bombing a religious school in Iraq, killing 16. Alex's picture has been placed on Web sites of fundamentalist groups and a bounty had been placed on his head. Paul wondered what any of this had to do with him. Alex said he had perfectly followed his orders and was sleeping very well. Alex mentioned his mother dying recently and his father's quick remarriage, which surprised him. Alex then mentioned a recent day when he had gone running with a friend, and then had pushed it all the way to 22 miles, at which point Alex had a massive heart attack that had him clinically dead for a brief period of time. Alex said people wanted to hear about his near-death experience and "the tunnel," but he believed he disappointed people by not telling them what they wanted to hear.

Alex grumbled about what he regarded as Paul's impatience to get to certain issues before Alex had said everything he wanted to. Paul wondered if Alex wasn't so much angry with others for not understanding him after he survived, as he was angry with himself for having the heart attack. Alex said he felt as if he was part of an elite that made it inevitable he would become a Top Gun. Alex said he decided to visit the madrasa he had bombed, but not because of guilt. His friend had urged him to get the advice of an expert before doing that. Paul got it now: Alex wanted Paul to give him permission to go to the school. Paul thought Alex wanted him to assume the role of a commander. He asked Alex why he thought he wanted to do this, and wondered if there wasn't a subconscious desire to atone (by working himself into a heart attack). Alex said he'd be going back to Iraq the next day as part of a church group. As the session ended, Paul urged Alex to keep talking about his emotions. [The Medium Is Not Enough]