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8th season premiere of ‘House’ in need of intensive care

Courtesy of Fox

“House” has jumped the shark.

Yes, it’s true. In fact, I’ve suspected it might be true for the past couple seasons, but Monday’s season eight premiere all but confirms it.

Season eight picks up with Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) in jail after driving his car through the living room of his ex-girlfriend and boss, Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein, who has departed from the show). House butts in when he notices a young doctor (Odette Annable) misdiagnosing an ill inmate, but he finds himself threatened by prison gangs when they find out he’s up for parole.

Getting déjà vu? Don’t worry. Me too.

Season six opened with House locked up in a mental institution. Monday’s season eight premiere isn’t all that different.

A change of scenery isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but “House” has proven that it’s at its best when it throws continuity out the window. “House” doesn’t thrive off soap opera, either. It thrives when Hugh Laurie is owning people left and right and solving medical mysteries.

In short, the season premiere of “House” does everything it shouldn’t.

That’s not to say the show can’t get away with a few extra doses of drama, as it did masterfully over a two-episode arc in season four when Anne Dudek’s character (Amber Volakis) was killed off. After the season eight premiere and the handling of the House-Cuddy relationship last season, “House” has all but proven those episodes were the exception, not the rule.

Still, no amount of medical mystery could have saved this episode. It’s so lazy and clumsily crafted that it’s really not even worth watching. The prison world is generic and by-the-numbers, the characters are one-dimensional and terribly miscast and the story offers nothing of importance. Not even a fleeting appearance from Steve Urkel (Jaleel White) could help matters.

There is good news, however. For viewers who will miss the eye candy provided by Olivia Wilde, who has left the show indefinitely to pursue her blossoming film career, Odette Annable (Dr. Jessica Adams) makes an apt substitute. Laurie is still in fine form per usual, but even then, it is no saving grace for an otherwise poor excuse for an episode.

Sadly, if the rest of season eight is anything like the premiere, it might be best to put “House” to rest. For a show far removed from its creative peak, the minds behind “House” need to seriously reconsider the direction the show’s taken if they want to breathe any sort of life back into a floundering series.

The season premiere of “House” is set to air Monday at 9 p.m. on Fox.

Grade: D

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