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House: Season 3 Review

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Grumpy doc survives outbreak of niceness

★★★★

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but for most successful TV shows, formula is everything. Week in, week out, every episode of a CSI, an ER, a House is the same. Permanently changing the tried-and-trusted structure risks death for the foolhardy network executive.

The recipe for House is as follows: patient gets hideously ill, arrives in hospital. Arrogant, brilliant, socially withdrawn, modern-day Sherlock Holmes Gregory House M. D. (Hugh Laurie) and his team misdiagnose the patient at least twice before finally, in a moment of revelatory genius, stumbling upon the answer. It might sound banal but, thanks to sparky writing and the dark attraction of the roguish doc, it has proved one of the most popular shows on the box. Yet at the end of the second season it appeared that creator David Shore was intent on ripping up his winning lottery ticket, after House was shot (by a man named Moriarty, Holmes fans) then operated on, losing his trademark limp and, possibly, his grouchiness. Refreshingly, however, while Season 3 occasionally treads new ground (a mid-season arc sees our man on trial for drug possession, and there’s an episode set entirely on a plane), House is soon back to his cantankerous self. And instead of learning to love himself and others (as might happen on Grey’s Anatomy), his behaviour deteriorates as the season winds on - not for nothing is the penultimate episode called The Jerk. Even though this very solid third season ends on a note of dissolution and, again, potential formula revamp, the good news is that House - as well as Laurie’s uncanny, brilliant, nuanced performance, American accent and all - remains on firm foundations, and should be able to withstand any coming change.

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