September 25th, 2007
House is a series that is always good at two things: finales and premieres. As a procedural drama, the rest of the time is spent meandering through repetitive and predictable medical cases, but it is at these moments of ending and beginning that House becomes a well-written and engaging character drama. After a finale that left everything in upheaval, “Alone” fast-forwards only two weeks as House tries to set out on his lonesome to prove that he doesn’t need a team.
Mind you, the series hinges on House’s interactions with his “Cottages,” so we know that this isn’t going to last long. This particular episode, however, benefited from the lack of added weight: it was, for the first time in a long time, House being House. Whether it was interactions with Wilson, Cuddy or Dr. Buffer (A Janitor turned Fellow), House was at his Tuesday best tonight. And, even if it didn’t answer all of our questions, I’d say that you can call this case a success.
The case itself was a woman who had been trapped after a building collapsed (For a reason we aren’t given), and how she continues to have a variety of symptoms that don’t make sense to her boyfriend or mother. Thus combines one thing House is very good at (Solving medical problems) and another that he is terrible at (Dealing with Sensitive issues with families). It’s the absolute right case to prove to House his need to hire a team, something he doesn’t feel he needs.
What was strange about the episode is that House was clearly dealing with the loss of his team…but we never saw them. The episode was heavy on House/Wilson and House/Cuddy interaction, with nary a “Look where Cameron is now!” to be found. I personally liked this: it was a refreshing take compared to Heroes’ meandering premiere, as it jumped right into the action without seeming forced. Plus, lets face it: Hugh Laurie’s chemistry with both Lisa Edelstein and Robert Sean Leonard is more than enough to sustain an hour of television.
And it felt like a densely packed hour: we got a glimpse at a possible fellowship candidate in the ER (Who looks a LOT like Cameron, she is going to be totally jealous when she sees her), we got the fantastic Dr. Buffer sequence and Wilson bits for comedy, and the case went back and forth so many times that the final reveal felt like the proper end to the case. There really wasn’t enough time to show the former fellows when they had to establish House’s state of mind.
And that’s what David Shore let happen: he let the show focus on House for this one episode before dealing with the big picture. I think it’s going to make for a great launching off point for the season, and I can only hope that the introduction of the Fellowship candidates will help the first part of this season from falling into its old formula.
Oh, and a note: Chase, Foreman and Cameron? Still in the credits. And, as a result, still on the show. In what capacity, we don’t really know yet, but chances are that we’ll see them in the weeks to come. Plus, Omar Epps totally spoiled it during the Emmys anyways. Boo, Omar Epps. Boo.
For another perspective, Matt over at the newly revived Be Something has his own thoughts about the premiere.
2 responses to “Season Premiere: House – “Alone””
Hmm…interesting take. I personally was disappointed at first – I didn’t realize how much I loved the extra members of the team until they were gone. After last season’s finale I was looking forward to where the show went next, but now I’m just a bit turned off. I’ll certainly keep watching, but I’d like the banter I know and love to return.
It really doesn’t help that Lisa Edelstein has always managed to turn me off to things I’d otherwise love.
Here’s hoping the season heats up next week. Which, after the 30 second promo, looks like it will.
Andrew, I think you hit upon something that further convinces me of the episode’s quality: I think they wanted you to have that opinion. Yes, you. You specifically, Andrew. The TV is speaking to you.
In order for House to see how much he missed the Cottages, you also need to make the viewer miss them as well. Without that, we would be unable to relate to House. By leaving them out entirely and placing us in a position similar to House, while also offering some very good comedy/drama, I think that it’s just the right level of emotional manipulation.