House: Meaning (season premiere)
by Tom Biro, posted Sep 5th 2006 8:05PM
(S03E01) [Some spoilers ahead! If you don't want to hear more about the premiere, then stop here!] As one of the early-on season premieres of the fall 2006 crop of shows, House will probably get a decent amount of "drop in" viewership for tonight's episode. Those who are just dropping in for the first time will see a very different Gregory House than the show originally presented, and those who have been along for the whole ride - even if you just caught up this summer on DVD or rerun - might just have a lot of wide-open mouths, even as the show opens up. The good doctor, who we left in a hallucination at the end of last season after he was shot, has apparently seen some big changes since having surgery, combined with Cuddy's ketamine treatment.
The show opens, as always, in dramatic fashion. A man, seemingly bound to a wheelchair with some unknown ailment, is seeing flashes of light combined with his particular reality. This reality includes his son, wife, and other family members participating in a barbecue, around a swimming pool. In some deliberate fashion, in what seems to be an attempt on his own life, the man moves his automatic wheelchair towards the pool, surveys the scene, and moves it forward, leaving us to see him sinking in the deep end just before the opening credits. And so it goes.The big change, as you might expect to find this season, is that House is most certainly "not the House we remember," as some of the show's promos had suggested to us. Not only did the ketamine treatment work, but his overall demeanor is just different. Sure, the one-liners are there, but he's either feeling more human, or not sure what to feel. After the credits rolled to open the show, we're shown feet running along to a beat from the Gorillaz, and sure enough, it's the good doctor, sweating it out as he runs a few miles. I really, truly, thought that this, too, could be a memory or another hallucination, but it wasn't to be. I can't decide if I would be happier if he was just left the way he was, or if the evolution of a character of this type needs something this dramatic in order to make everything not-so-stale.
Also different are some of the attitudes on the team. Cameron is a bit more wishy-washy than before, and appears to have lost her interest in House. That shouldn't be so surprising, after her HIV scare, sleeping with Chase, and having her attempts at dating rebuffed by House. Oh, and there was that whole Stacy thing, too. Foreman was his usual stern self, and was a little "left out" of this particular episode, but he had his moments. He will continue to be the devil's advocate to House's little devil. Chase, interestingly enough, went against the grain at one point, even pushing through something that House wanted to do with a patient, something that both Cameron and Foreman turned down doing. Whether or not this is a power move on his part, much like the hard pat on his boss' arm when he rolled into the office, is yet to be seen.
Should we be concerned that House will lose his touch now that he seems to be walking and running on his own power, without any help from Vicodin or any other drugs, or his cane? Sure, he had a little fallout at the end of the show, and is definitely still into confiding in Wilson, but he might just have that much of an addiction. My want for a love interest situation between Cameron and House, even after just one episode and him having the tables turned on him with a rebuttal in the hallway this week, has swayed in the other direction. I think I'd rather have that just hanging out there, because he seems to have most certainly figured her out.
And, as usual, Cuddy and Wilson have a backchannel discussion about House, which he knows is going on, but still continues confiding in one and trying to work through the other. In a way, I can actually see that he uses that to his advantage, which they should be smart enough to figure out but they don't. Highlight of the week: House tossing grapes (?) off a balcony into a trash can that a janitor is working in front of, just as Wilson approaches. And, after Wilson says something that makes House leave, the last toss hits the janitor on the back, and the only one visible on the balcony is poor Dr. Wilson. Lowlight of the show: seeing that Cuddy actually gave in to House's demands of what should happen with his paralyzed patient, leaving her in tears. Not that I don't think he would have been right, but that she couldn't bear to leave the man in a wheelchair, even if it meant bending a rule she set for her employee. Big expectations for the season: potentially some phantom leg problems for House, and perhaps some trouble for him if he gets caught with the Vicodin. I can also see the potential for one, if not more than one, of House's team leaving for their own growth and needs.
Three seasons in, and the show has finally begun receiving the accolades it deserves, and an early start for a month should probably attract a few more viewers that should help make this show continue to grow in popularity. Howabout you, viewers? Thoughts, surprises, expectations or predictions?