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"House": Then There Were ...

By admin Published: November 28, 2007

Well, considering how many people may not have watched yet, I'm not saying until after the jump ...

Here's the official announcement, with thoughts about the episode following.

After conducting an uncoventional competition that started with 40 fellowship candidates, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) has officially closed the case on who will join his diagnostic team. His final decision was revealed in Tuesday night’s HOUSE episode “Games.” HOUSE airs Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

Fellowship candidates Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson), Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn) and Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) weathered a competition that included an intense litany of unorthodox exercises, random eliminations and medical mysteries that tested their abilities and training, while House intruded into their personal lives to uncover more information than they were prepared to reveal. They will join Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) as part of House’s Diagnostic Medicine team at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital. Fellowship candidate Amber Volakis, otherwise known as “Cutthroat Bitch” (Anne Dudek), was fired at the end of the episode.

House’s Diagnostic Medicine team:
Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn) – His specialty is rehabilitative and sports medicine. He is the most enthusiastic of all the potential fellows, but his enthusiasm could be dangerous. A radical thinker, he is the only one who doesn’t think House’s crazy moves aren’t crazy enough.
Dr. Chris Taub (Peter Jacobson) – His specialty is plastic surgery. He is both shallow and inciteful. Taub left a successful practice for unknown reasons, which only made House more determined to figure out why.
Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) – Her specialty is internal medicine. She’s a competent young doctor who plays her cards extremely close to the vest. She is an enigma wrapped in a riddle – and House loves a good mystery.
Dr. Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) – Neurologist who quit at the end of last season because he didn’t want to end up like Dr. House. But after he’s fired from his next job and no other hospital will hire him because of his “House-like” reputation, Hospital Administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) placed him back on the diagnostic team to watch over the brilliant but unpredictable House.

The show did keep me guessing about the new team to the very end of the episode, and I did care about who would stay and who would go. (Unlike my buddy Sepinwall but apparently like a lot of viewers, I had managed not to notice who was hired before watching the show.)

In fact, like House, I don't think I wanted to get rid of any of them. I will miss Amber because she was so House-like in a lot of ways. Indeed, where the old team provided a counterpoint to House, the new one feels as if it consists of different parts of House himself, even if the characters don't want to be thought of that way.

(Foreman has already been burned by his affinity for House behavior. And while it was noted in the episode that neither House nor Foreman wear doctor's coats, Foreman has still distanced himself from his old mentor; where House is sloppy to a T (shirt), Foreman dresses to the nines.)

But the newish characters have given us a chance to see House interact with different people, and people we don't know so well that we can anticipate their reactions to different cases. Not that I want to see House playing only with the new guys; the show did a good job Tuesday with House and Wilson, and you knew both Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard were game-on in their scenes together.

It's all enough to make me ignore the weakness of Tuesday's case, and the show's inability to get out of the rhythms of mysterious-ailment, misdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, potentially fatal misdiagnosis, diagnosis. Although I know that medicine drives the interaction among the characters, I wouldn't mind an episode that forced them to deal with each other without talking around a hospital bed. With the new cast, it has been bold enough to shake some things up. I'd like to see the basic plot structure shaken, too.

Since writing the above, I've caught up with last week's "CSI," and it showed some of what could be done with a slow day at the office. To be sure, it was still "CSI"-ish in that the staff used a slow day to create and solve hypotheticals, but it was also playful and entertaining -- AND let us see the characters in a somewhat different context.

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