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'House' season premiere's winners and losers

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House-Hugh-Laurie-premiere_l

House-Hugh-Laurie-premiere_lLast night’s two-hour premier of House, “Broken,” was totally unlike other episodes of the series — for better or worse depending on your love of Princeton-Plainsboro. (Our own Ken Tucker didn’t like the change.) Set within the Cuckoo’s Nest of Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital, the ep followed a recuperating but resistant Greg House on the road to mental wellness. Or! Was! He! There were winners, there were losers, and I kept score:

Winners

Hugh Laurie Seriously, not enough can be said about how freakin’ good Hugh Laurie is in this episode. Dynamic, understated — especially when this ep could have been gaudy — and as captivating a performance as network primetime has seen in ages. Just…made of win.

Andre Braugher: If there was anyone who could go toe-to-toe with Laurie, it’s him. He will always be Frank Pembleton to me, but that’s a good thing.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: Let’s set the countdown clock on when he gets his own show. Tick, tick, tick…

Losers

Fans of long-term stories Watch out, trash heap of former House characters: Here comes Dr. Nolan. House has always struggled to find characters that could stand up to the good doctor’s acidity, and they’ve tried foil after foil, with rapidly diminishing returns: Stacy? Vogler? Tritter? None of those characters hit quite right. Dr. Nolan finally seemed like the right dude at the right time, but the show’s not keeping him around. Blerg.

The regular supporting cast If your show can have a stand-out episode totally without you, sleep with one eye open.

People who wanted an episode of House I thought this was a cool movie and all, but in the strict idea of what constitutes an episode, this doesn’t make the cut: Nary a person was diagnosed, no one from Princeton Plainsboro was even present (except a quickie scene with Wilson), and even Greg didn’t seem like himself. And that’s my real worry here: Given what we know about House — and House — how can this show credibly set up character development? This is someone who time and again has insisted that people don’t change. He’s been right this whole time, so to see him maybe — maybe! — get jut a little bit healthier is totally disconcerting.

PopWatchers, I was crazy about this nut-house episode. Were you?