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House, M.D.: Gearing up for Season Eight

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Okay, House, M.D. fans. The House folk are back to work filming the new season, and I’m back from my little hiatus. So let’s get the conversation flowing as we count down to the start of Season 8 (October 3) when House will premiere at a new time (at least for the first half of the season): 9:00 p.m. ET. There are a few spoilers herein (nothing big, since I don’t know very much—and nothing that hasn’t been already reported elsewhere), so if you be a spoilerphobe, then stop reading…now! But be sure to take the poll on the last page.

Most of us mourn the loss of Lisa Edelstein from the House cast and wish her well as she steps into The Good Wife. She will be missed.

From what I’ve heard, there are significant changes afoot on House this season (besides, of course the disappointing loss of Dr. Lisa Cuddy) and there is much secrecy on the set at this point. Of course many of us have heard that House (Hugh Laurie) begins the season in jail, paying the price from the disastrous events of the Season 7 finale. There is also reporting that Season 8 opens a year into the future, and that House’s year in prison is told in flashback. But we shall see.

While in jail, evidently House meets a prison doctor with whom he forms a connection. Played by Odette Annabelle (Brothers and Sisters), the new doc reportedly will be signing on as the newest member of House’s Princeton-Plainsboro diagnostics team as well.

Also joining the team will be another new female physician played by stand up comedienne Charlyne Yi. But if the Diagnostics department seems a bit overstaffed with two new additions, it may be because Oliva Wilde’s film commitment will keep Thirteen on a part-time status during Season 8.

There will clearly be a new dynamic on the diagnostics staff with five or six doctors under House’s command. If, indeed, he has command at all. Once House is freed from prison, will he even have a remote chance of regaining his license? Will he simply be a consultant? Or will he have paid his price and step right back into his old role (and his old ways)? I sincerely hope it’s not quite that easy. (But that’s fodder for my next article, so stay tuned for that.)

The season premiere is entitled “20 Vicodin,” a typically enigmatic title for a House episode. However, as most House episode titles have multiple meanings within the series context, the season premiere title is sure to be a comment upon whatever happens in “20 Vicodin.” Perhaps 20 Vicodin are all House has left in his stockpile. After all, I’m guessing that Wilson isn’t writing prescriptions for him these days, if he’s even speaking to the self-destructive (or should I say self-destructed) House at all. Last we saw, Wilson was nursing a broken arm, having become collateral damage to his friend’s outrage (and outrageous behavior) in “Moving On.”

On the other hand, maybe that’s how many Vicodin House has in his system when he indulges in his supremely irresponsible and incredibly destructive behavior in the Season 7 finale. We actually do not know the charges for which he’s sent to prison (or how he is captured and convicted).

Or maybe House has been rationed 20 Vicodin to use over the course of a week—or a month. At any rate, “20 Vicodin” must have some significance for House, and doubtless for the patient (if there is one in the premiere) as well.

But the big (perhaps the biggest) question on fans’ minds these days is who will named the next Dean of Medicine at Princeton-Plainsboro? Showrunner David Shore is quoted as saying that it’s “someone in House’s orbit.” Now, some may take that to mean a promotion from within the ranks of the series regulars, but I’m not so sure. “Someone we’ve seen before” can include guest physicians (and even physician-patients) from the past seven seasons.

But first let’s consider who’s available from among the likely suspects. A lot of people are thinking it’s going to be Dr. James Wilson, House’s best friend and enabler. After all, he’s on the hospital board, a department head, and he’s very organized and diligent. Personally, I would not like to see Wilson as dean. Going back to the first season, House’s relationship with Wilson has always been voluntary—a relationship of peers. It’s a unique relationship on the series, and to suddenly make Wilson House’s boss would destroy that uniqueness—and strip away House’s only voluntary friendship. But there’s more.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • The Other Barnett

    I’m not going to get bogged down with whether House will be a Dr. or not (of course he will) or what the dynamic will be with House returning after a year (it will be weird and he will overcome it and overwhelm it). I am very curious about who wil be Dean.

    I agree with Barb about Andre Braugher (I love him, but his professional background does not fit the Dean’s position,,,,unless. The one interesting approach to take if Braugher does get inserted (I am rooting) for) is if it is to “diagnose” the dysfunction of the hospital as a whole for the Bd. of Directors. What if House returns just a few months after Cuddy leaves to discover his shrink trying to do a full-on hospital psycho-analysis? This could cover a half-season if the writers could handle it.

    I agree that Waltros’s character did not impress as a physician, but I never thought Cuddy was much of a Dr. She was a paper pusher and negotiator – maybe an average Dr. So, maybe she gets in as a nod to experimental medicine.

    I agree that Foremna would be a horrible permanent Dean, but imagine if he is placed in the spot and run off by House? It happened to Cameron, why not Foreman. And, I must disagree with Barb on one thing she said about Foreman. I think that Foreman’s self-righteousness makes him only more galling than House…not more arrogant.

    Chase as Dean is interesting, but only in a similar temp. job way. He is best as Tonto to House’s Lone Ranger. Maybe he could emerge from House’s shadow, but not to the point of being Dean.

    Do not bring Cameron back just to be Dean. She was run off before. The only story gold in this is Chase and her interaction with House’s prodding.

    I think this leaves three people who could (theoretically) be in House’s life and be familar, but maybe not in any obvious way.

    Ron Livingston comes back, after saving half-of Africa, to take on this Dean’s position in more of an ornamental way than a serious manner. The dark lord House vs. the humanitarian Dean….lovely opportunities!

    Why not think of Mira Sorvino! She could come back from Antarctica to be the actual Dean of Medicine. She has academic credentials, research background, and seems like someone who could manage House and the others deftly. And, of course, we always have the potential of a love-interest.

    Finally, if I may be humble and pleading – MAURA TIERNEY! The writers could concoct some history between them (maybe they were at Johns Hopkins together, went down to Atlantic City and got a quicky wedding and divorce all in one week). Tierney has this gritty, feminine, spunky way about her. And, if anyone has seen her with short hair, you do not think of Abby from ER, you only think – ‘smart and sexy’.

    Now I’ll read everyone’s thoughts and start responding….and look forward to anyone’s comments on mine.

  • Earth Orbiter

    Ron Livingston? That’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t thought of him. And he would be a logical choice, too, considering his background.

    Maura Tierney would be great, I agree, and your suggestion could work, especially since these writers are really, really, really good at re-writing history. My TV Guide subscription comes with a bottle of #20 Ret-Con capsules for just those occasions (or if I want to immediately “forget” a really crappy episode, such as “Moving On”).

  • Austin

    The dean is an administrative position and does not necessarily have to be filled by a doctor

  • housemaniac

    Kaliera#84: Well, I think we can agree that DS et al. did not *intend* for it to be an act of domestic violence. The policeman’s comment is interesting, but imprecise. The bottom line, though, is that whatever one calls it, the crime was a nasty one and it’s right that House go to prison for it. Looking forward to seeing how he get’s out and back to being a doctor, which I really hope he does. Yes, he deserves to be punished and kicked around and whatever else. But I think the main setting of this show *has* to be the hospital!

  • RobF

    I felt massively, massively let down by the Season 7 finale. It had been an uneven season, and we were all expecting something drastic, but they just went too far with it. The final scene, showing House actually pleased with himself, took House too far down the path to WalterWhiteVille. The series has been about showing how this man, who believes nobody can change, gradually changes. Despite his glaring faults and emotional hang-ups, he has been developing as a person from the beginning of the show. He has certainly taken backwards steps along the way, but we’ve seen him grow as a human season after season. Tragically, this last action removes our sympathy for him.

    I will probably watch the show in Season 8, even though I feel no enthusiasm for watching the new, diminished man try to gain back a shred of his former self. It is just too thoroughly depressing, and feels like an epilogue to the series.

    Who knows? Maybe the writers will surprise us all and the show will be brilliant.

    I don’t have much preference for any particular character to fill Cuddy’s position. It has to be someone who could plausibly take the role, so not Cameron, Chase, or Thirteen. One of the minor characters who has a history with House would be fine, depending on the actor’s ability.

    As for the team, they have pretty much used up each character’s role as a certain type of foil for House. The writers need to move past those one-dimensional characterisations and take the interpersonal relationships somewhere with more depth.

    I know the writers and the stellar cast have it in them to give us something special. I hope they step outside the worn-out formula and give the show a worthy farewell.

  • Cyndi Tessler

    What about Stacey?
    Most hospitals CEO’s are not Docs, that is what the Medical Director is for. Please, please, let House find some peace and happiness this last season. If not, writers have simply been jerking us around for 7 seasons.

  • barbara barnett


    Cuddy is the Dean of Medicine, most importantly to the show’s narrative. She has to be replaced by a doctor–Stacy’s a lawyer.

  • Daniela

    What about Dr. Cameron as the new Dean?

  • barbara barnett

    Daniela–she could certainly do it, but Jen Morrison is starring in a new television series, debuting at the end of October. So I doubt she would be even remotely available.

  • Cyndi Tessler

    Barbara, You are right. But in the real world the DOM is not the CEO.
    Creative license let Cuddy run the hospital. How about a new DOM and Stacy.
    As you can tell, I want House to find some peace. And while we’re at it. Give Wilson a break! He is always looking for love in all the wrong places too.If this is the final season, end on a positive note.

  • My Three Sons

    I’m with Mikey (#62) regarding Dr Cameron. I think she’d be great as Dean of Medicine.

    IMO, it’d be tiresome to see Chase, Wilson, or (especially) Foreman as DoM. He’s already trumped all of them time and again, so what would be the point?

    The only character with anything left to explore is Cameron. Too bad she’s booked with a new series. She did say in a recent interview that she’d like to come back to help “end” the House series. I wondered if that might be a slip… I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to film 2 series at the same time, but it sure would be fun to see her come back.

    I’ve been a House Fool from the beginning, but the S7 finale wrecked my love of the show and the House character. So I hope that S8 is indeed the final season.

  • BCO

    I think it would be cool if Cameron returned to the show as DOM.

  • barbara barnett

    Doctors can be hospital CEOs, but a dean of medicine requires medical expertise lawyers can’t have (unless they’re also doctors). So, I’m afraid Stacy would be out of the question. The dean of medicine is the expert’s expert. Has to be a doctor.

  • Angie

    I was so disappointed with last season, but not because of the last episode. The last episode made sense to me. Once again, people try to tell House how he should respond and behave and when he does what they suggest, disaster follows. He was told repeatedly to “face his anger,” and then people were shocked when that turned bad. How much anger does House have? An entire lifetime’s worth. Almost every time he takes a step forward, something shoves him back. Sometimes it’s his own failings, but often it’s because his efforts are not rewarded or seem to be punished. There is a streak of magical thinking in House. As much as he pretends to be purely reason-based, he believes that people get what they deserve–or at least HE does (other people exist under different rules, mostly.) Since he never gets what he really needs or wants, he must deserve pain. He must be BAD. I think House cares very much about whether he’s good or bad, but he can’t break free of the notion that he just IS bad and people don’t change. If House were an actual person, I’d put money on a narcissistic, punitive father who projected his fears about himself onto a child who didn’t know any better than to believe what he was told about himself.

    I love the character, and think he is beautifully portrayed by Hugh Laurie. I was not put off by the last episode. I don’t need House to be “good,” I need for the story to make sense. Sometimes we have to fill in the gaps (House’s childhood, for example, is sort of a mystery), but I think overall, the writers have done a good job with House’s character development.

    I just hope there aren’t any more arbitrary jerk-the-audience-around episodes. I despise those.

  • Lyle

    What about Stacy Warner? She was House’s first love intrest and at one point she worked Along with Lisa Cuddy during the episode with the convict granted she’s a lawyer but I have a feeling she’s going to have something to do with House when he is released from prison or how ever there starting this new season

  • Joe

    I never understood this stance held by many here that “the character of House is ruined” after the season 7 finale. These people see him as an irredeemable villain now. Do some of you not realize that good people are still capable of making horrible mistakes? Have none you ever done something reckless under the influence of (pick one) drugs, alcohol, anger, jealously, hatred that, when you come to your senses leaves you sick with guilt? House is fortunate that other than a destroyed dining room, nothing irreversible has happened here. Yes, he has probably lost Cuddy forever…but imagine if he had actually killed her? I am of the belief that redemption is always possible. In the case of House, he is (privately) exceptionally hard on himself. The show has hit this note a few times now: when he goes to a bar and provokes a beating, it is because he thinks he deserves it. In a sick way, he is trying to atone for something. His prison stint is going to be interesting, if only because his own guilt is going to eat him alive.

  • marolize

    Where does House’s old flame fit in? Maybe she could come back as the new DOM. I am talking about the girlfriend who gave the ok to cut out his muscle tissue.

  • Bill

    20 Vicodin is the tax he has to pay since he’s a short timer. I.E. he’s getting paroled.

  • mj

    After having watched several season eight episodes, I’m quite disappointed. Odette Annabel in no way replaces Lisa Edelstein. LE added much needed sex appeal, style, maturity and a provocative relationship with House. Annabel adds nothing. The cases now are so convoluted that they’re boring. If this is a desire to make this the final season of House, this wish soon will be fulfilled.