Review: House 4.1

House

In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox

In the UK: Five, Five US, Hallmark, whenever they get round to it and have finished butchering the theme tune

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: Three (for now)

Major new characters: 30

Format change percentage: 30%

Number of deerstalkers worn: One invisible one

Oh dear. Another disappointment. That wasn’t very good.

With House’s staff having left for pastures new at the end of the third season, the temptation would have been to bring them all back in this season opener. That wouldn’t have been very realistic but it would at least have made it more interesting. Because it turns out that Holmes without his Watsons (even if he has his Wilson), just isn’t as interesting.

Wilson might be more interesting, Cuddy might be more interesting. But House without someone to insult is just a puzzle solver.

The Sherlock Holmes inspiration for/entire foundation of House is pretty obvious, even if we didn’t have clues like House’s living at 221b to give the game away. Essentially, each episode is a mystery that needs to be solved, using the clues provided. House eventually works out the solution with his miraculous brain, although it’s never a solution we could have guessed.

Holmes, of course, had his Watson to talk to, and while Watson was mainly there to be impressed and have things explained to him, he wasn’t an idiot. There was a teacher-student relationship there as well: Watson tries to solve things himself and often does pick up a few things along the way that can help Holmes.

This opener of House is pretty explicit in pointing out that House without his three students just doesn’t work as well – he needs a team. Although there is a mystery that needs to be solved (one with a solution you might be able to guess for once, although it’s unlikely you will), the emphasis is on Cuddy and Wilson trying to get House to put together a new team, using the current mystery to show him his flaws.

This is amusing, let’s be fair, and we finally get to see House and Wilson being a true Holmes and Watson pairing, as they investigate together. Wilson also gets to show far more humour and backbone than we’ve seen before, with his episode-long ‘kidnapping’. But the episode’s message is its own worst enemy, because the lack of team just makes the episode a bit grim and inhuman.

I’m sure (particularly given the cast list in the credits) that the House team will be back together and there are measures at the end of the episode to be together a team of sorts until then – and they promise to be fun. But it turns out that tampering with the formula isn’t a great idea, even if it does break up the repetition a bit, something that can affect House at times.

New viewers probably should watch some old episodes instead, or wait until the gang’s back together. Old viewers, we’re just going to have to take our medicine and bear with it, until the show gets better.

PS Is it just me or when you watch you watch House, do you just think ‘it’s Hugh Laurie being a doctor’, not some separate House person?

  • Jonathan Reed

    I’ve got to really disagree with you on this review.
    I thought the episode was excellent and a refreshing change. It was also funnier than I remembered House being last season (the Wilson/House side-plot was very enjoyable). Admittedly I don’t think this new formula would last past another episode but at least after 3 seasons they’re trying to progress the characters a bit.
    Maybe next week we’ll see a shift of the plot to our 3 absent doctors?
    Anyway, I really enjoyed it. Early days yet but it’s my favourite season premiere so far this year(yes, more than Heroes. sorry, thought that was a little flat).

  • Jonathan Reed

    Oh yeah, and yes, I always look at House and think ‘Hugh Laurie’. Not that he’s no good, he’s great, it’s just…. it’s Hugh Laurie!!

  • It got a universal “Meh” at our house.
    Every so often they do try to shake up the formula a bit (the Chi McBride takeover, the David Morse cop, the old girlfriend), but it never lasts long. While the Wilson and House pairing was fun, he does need his Baker Street Irregulars for the formula to work properly.
    It was funny though.

  • Jonathan Reed

    True. I suppose we can’t be blamed for thinking they’ll hit the reset button after a few more episodes but I’m hearing it’s going to have a more permanent effect to the set up this time (plus, can you imagine Foreman coming crawling back?)

  • Phoenix

    I have to agree with Jonathan; this was a great episode. The Wilson b-plot was the highlight for sure. Wilson’s reaction to what was in the box….how is that not priceless? ^_^
    As to Hugh… I’ve been re-watching A Bit of Fry and Laurie eps all week. House is such a completely different character in my mind that sometimes I forget that it’s the same guy! Of course, part of that might be the number of years between now and ABoFaL (he does look different), and his now-excellent American accent.

  • Maybe it depends on how you got to know Hugh Laurie. I remember seeing him on Saturday Live and Friday Live, The Young Ones, Blackadder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Jeeves and Wooster as well as things like James Randi Investigates (back when ITV actually used to debunk psychic cobblers, rather than dedicate whole shows to ‘proving’ it), at the time the shows aired. So seeing him pop up as House was a big surprise and I still can’t stop myself thinking, ‘Hang on, that’s Hugh Laurie.’
    As I said, the Wilson b-plot was good, but the show still lacked a certain something. I’m sure they won’t be able to make it exactly the same as it was before (would they all accept demotions just to work with House again? I don’t think so), but fundamentally, I think the general use of the characters as foils/sounding boards will remain the same, even if House ends up having to do his own break-ins with Wilson from now on.