I have been talking around some of the plot developments in tonight's season premiere of ''House'' (including in a new podcast you can find at www.ohio.com) because it does make a difference to see the early scenes without preconceptions.
But several of my colleagues have already blabbed, so I might as well do likewise. And if you don't want to know, then stop reading here.
OK, moving on: The surgery House had at the end of season two proved successful, giving him the mobility he had longed for. That's interesting enough (although it's possible the transformation won't be permanent). But even more interesting is the way House changes emotionally -- and how that affects all the people around him.
Since he has lost a continuing reason for his anger, House suddenly seems milder. And since his happiness is rooted in what amounted to a gamble, he is more willing to take risks with a patient based not on his medical knowledge but on pure instinct.
As a result, his colleagues are not only dealing with a happier House -- a puzzling spectacle by itself -- but one whose medical skills may have been twisted in a dangerous direction. Indeed, the opener seems to be sending House down the road to a colossal mistake.
The change of heart will disorient some viewers. But unlike ''Bones,'' which has also softened its central character but hasn't given a strong dramatic justification, ''House'' has made its change rational. And it has thought out the implications of that change. Concerned at first with the direction the show had taken, I've come to see all the interesting places the show could go -- that it's still looking closely at its characters instead of drifting into routine.
By the way, my detailed fall-preview package is also available now on www.ohio.com, as is a second podcast about MyNetworkTV, which begins its soapy wanderings tonight. Both podcasts include me and Amy Carlson Gustafson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
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