Review: House 3.1 — “Meaning”

Vauge, TV-Guide-ish Recap:  Two months after he was shot in last season’s finale, House returns to the hospital, rehabilitated from even his existing leg injury byan experimental Ketamine treatment.  His first two cases:  a hot (seemingly) hypochondriac and a quadriplegic brain cancer survivor who drives his wheelchair into his backyard swimming pool.  Basically, everyone on the staff of the hospital not just doubts but openly questions House’s abilities to treat both of these patients because he’s of sound mind and not abusing Vicodin for the first time in, like, a zillion years.

Comments:  The ironies abound in the season opener, what, with everyone doubting House’s medical judgment just because he’s just too darn happy for them.  And Cuddhy choosing to put her faith in House’s hunch after everyone on his team has abandoned him by giving the paralyzed father the simple shot of cortisol that cured everything.  Wilson’s pressure on Cuddhy not to tell House that the shot worked prompts House to doubt his own sound judgment and steal a prescription of Vicodin off Wilson’s scrip pad (which, if I remember correctly, is a felony or something).  It’s a well-written variation on the normal House CSI: Hospital formula that requires everyone to doubt him until the very end.

There’s not really a whole lot that can be said about a typically good episode of House like this one other than it’s well-written and reasonably well-acted, especially by (duh!) Hugh Laurie as the title character and Jennifer Morrison as Cameron.  The show is dependable comfort food.  I was a bit underwhelmed by the usually good Kathleen Quinlan, who took on the thanklessly underwritten role of the paralyzed father’s wife.  Usually, the Guest Patients and Guest Patient’s Guest Family are better written than they were in this episode.  But hey, it’s only the season opener. 

Also, Jennifer Morrison has taken on a look for Cameron, with the longer, darker hair, bangs and cats-eye-ish makeup, that makes her look enough like Alexis Bledel’s older sister that she could take on the much better-written (and far more poorly acted) role of Rory Gilmore whenever Bledel wanted to leavel her own show.  And anyone who’s  seen the ghost-story movie Stir of Echoes knows that Morrison and Gilmore Girls’Liza Weil already have good onscreen chemistry even though they barely shared a scene with each other. 

Robert Sean Leonard is on the verge of overselling his doubt of House and needs to pull back before his performances devolve into the undermotivation of melodrama.

Episode Grade:  B-.

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