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House: Season 4 - The Right Stuff (Review)


Review by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the latest episode of House: Season 4 entitled The Right Stuff.

What’s the story? House (Hugh Laurie) secretly attempts to treat a fighter pilot (Essence Atkins’ Greta), who is a candidate for NASA’s astronaut training program. Her diagnosis will be the test to choose which ones of the 40 applicants are going to take the empty spots in his team.

Why so good? After last week’s humdrum season opener, Alone House returned to top form with The Right Stuff, the season’s second episode. Not only did the episode boast an intriguing medical dilemma (how could a pilot hear through her eyes?), but a new team of medical assistants (40, no less) for Greg to abuse and put through their paces.

What’s more, there were fleeting appearances from veteran cast members Omar Epps, Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer to suggest that House does have a conscience after all. As usual, the banter between the grumpy doc and Dr Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) was exemplary.

Digging a little deeper: House is definitely at its best when Hugh Laurie has plenty to keep him occupied. So, while being alone didn’t necessarily agree with him as well as we (or he) thought it might, being surrounded by a team of fresh, eager and potentially back-stabbing recruits was manner from heaven.

Watching House put 40 applicants through their paces was immense fun and frequently had me laughing out loud. It helped, too, that the applicants were a spirited bunch who were prepared to take everything that House threw at them.

Among them, Kal Penn’s Kutner proved a genuinely endearing presence – setting fire to his patient when forced to resuscitate her in an oxygen chamber, and later being sacked for being a “tell”. Shamelessly, he switched his number “6” to a “9” and attempted a re-entry, only to be sacked a second time by House. But still had the tenacity to fight back and offer an inspired diagnostic theory, which earned him a stay of execution.

I also liked Peter Jacobson’s older, wiser applicant Taub, who demonstrated plenty of aptitude for the tests that lay ahead, most notably when prising an explanation from Greta over what she could be hiding. His suggestion that a plastic surgery procedure could be used to mask a potentially life-saving operation also showed plenty of guile.

Carmen Argenziano’s Henry Dobson, meanwhile, provided another wise old head until House discovered that he wasn’t even a doctor, but an admissions officer and swiftly removed him from the team with an offer of becoming a background assistant. It led to an extremely well played exchange between the two of them at the end of the episode that could lead to future possibilities (and welcome ones at that).

Needless to say, with 40 people to wittle down to three, House didn’t manage the feat in one episode and I suspect that a lot more pleasure is to be derived from watching him do that over ensuing episodes. Long may this story arc continue. It’s fun, it’s packed with witty banter, and it keeps Lisa Edelstein’s Dr Cuddy nicely bemused.

Elsewhere, what could we make of the fleeting visions of Drs Foreman, Chase and Cameron? Will they return? Or were they just visions – or, as Dr Wilson gleefully speculated, repressed guilt starting to “un-repress itself”?

Certainly, Dr Chase helped with a vital diagnosis as House was in the operating theatre, while Cameron appeared in the final few moments to tease Greg with the revelation that she was now working in the ER and putting her good intentions to maximum use. House responded, of couse, that she was wasting her talent. But it was clear that they still have unfinished business.

I look forward to seeing how these three former regulars are deployed for the remainder of the series and take my hat off to the brave decision to reduce them to the sidelines (or perhaps banish them completely?). It could have backfired but – for now – appears to have given the show fresh new life.

Roll on episode three – I suspect it’s going to be a blast.

What did you think?