House: The Doctor Is (Back) In

If there is an overall theme to the 2007-08 season, aside from the interruptions and wacky reality programming caused by the writers' strike, it's normally great shows being a bit off their game. Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, and Friday Night Lights have all had less-than-banner years. House, while still terrific, has also failed to live up to our expectations this year.

In House's case, the poor season can be blamed entirely on the idea of changing House's team. In the earlier episodes of the season, there were too many faces to keep track of. As the candidates got narrowed down, there were less people to keep track of, but we still didn't care a whole lot about any of them. Meanwhile, the old team began to pop up in the hospital; Cameron and Chase in other departments, and Foreman rejoined the diagnostic team.

Now we've had a few episodes with the new team in place, and I have to say I'm still not quite sure what the point of this whole exercise was. Why are Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer still cast members if they only appear for a couple of minutes per week, if that? Should we get attached to the new team, or are they goners?

The only character for whom the shake-up makes sense is Foreman. His fear of becoming like House was a part of his character since the beginning of the show. The fact that he left, found he was already labeled as a maverick like House, and found that the only place he could work was with House adds depth to his character. The relationship between House and Foreman has grown to one of reluctant equals, and Hugh Laurie and Omar Epps are doing an excellent job of adding subtle layers to that interaction.

The other positive development this season is Wilson's romance with House's reject candidate, Cutthroat Bitch (I think her name is Amber, but House's moniker for her is much more fun). Wilson and House have a bizarre, codependent friendship, but it's still the healthiest thing in House's life. Cutthroat Bitch, who is so similar to House, threatens his monopoly of Wilson in a way none of Wilson's wives or girlfriends have before.

In tonight's episode, House thinks that being nice is one of his patient's symptoms, and he'll butt heads with Cutthroat Bitch over who gets more attention from Wilson. Hopefully, this episode will set a good tone for the remainder of the season. I think House can regain its former glory by letting the new team hit its stride and further exploring the House/Wilson/Cutthroat Bitch triangle. Because it is a triangle. If House doesn't hit on Cutthroat Bitch in tonight's episode, it's only a matter of time.

* * *

Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.