November 01, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST


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”House”: A regular fright fest

Welcome back, House fans. Our favorite medical curmudgeon is back on the tube… if in a rather disorganized episode. Now don’t get me wrong, my love for Hugh Laurie knows no bounds (case in point: I even braved this past weekend’s Saturday Night Live just to watch him host), and maybe my expectations were heightened because of the World Series delay, but tonight’s episode simply didn’t gel for me. While the ducklings were on their game (literally, in Foreman’s case) and the patients of the week received the now prerequisite twist diagnosis, I was a little annoyed with the amount of repetitious exposition (Wilson to House: You’re miserable) and a lot annoyed with David Morse’s Tritter. What a nasty piece of work. I get that he’s supposed to be a cop version of House and therefore a worthy adversary, but he’s sorely lacking in the one thing that makes House appealing: a sense of humor.

Tritter also emits a one-dimensional hostility that makes me fear for House’s physical safety — in that final scene, did anyone else think he was going to pull a Tonya Harding and whack the good doc in the knees with his cane? At least Vogler (whom I wasn’t a fan of either) had a more thought-out foundation for provoking House than ”You’re a bully.” Come on, dude: You chose to go to a free, first-come, first-served walk-in clinic — of course the wait is going to be long.

On the plus side, Cameron snarked out some good one-liners (”No, I’m hitting that and it’s totally hot”), Chase was, well, predictably middle-of-the-road Chase (”[I won’t help because] Foreman and Cameron are too ethical and I’m afraid of being sued”), and Foreman’s hoodwinking of House about his relationship with Nurse Wendy was classic. Plus, it’s nice to see at least one person having a healthy relationship in that hospital. Cuddy and Wilson also tugged at the heartstrings with their respective no-baby/no-real-place-to-live scenes in a nice show of continuity.

In all, the staff’s verbal jabs (Cuddy’s ”Sometimes an ass is just an ass” being one of my faves) were as witty and scalpel-sharp as ever, although the same can’t be said about the medical mysteries of the week. Even though quasi-incest hasn’t really been done on the show before, there’s a familiar feel to Tracy and her husband/half-brother’s ”doomed lovers” relationship, and Foreman’s Cameron-esque speech to the couple about their love being out of their control felt a bit out of place. On the whole, this season’s patients haven’t been as compelling (or memorable) as the first two seasons. And please, more diagnostic whiteboard sessions!

What did you think? Will Tritter be a worthy opponent for House? Will Cuddy ever get pregnant? And couldn’t House find a container for all those pills stashed in his jacket pocket when he was arrested?

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