Tuesday , September 22 2020
What's in store for Season 8 of House, M.D.? Let the conversation begin. And be sure to take this week's poll!

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

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.

Usually, House and Wilson’s relationship provides a lot of the series humor. Their repartee is great and fun, and often silly—and fun. And although Wilson knows House well enough to effectively manipulate him—and even control him (perhaps better than Cuddy), I can see a little too much humor creeping into this relationship, sapping it of tension. There’s too much opportunity for Wilson to become “Colonel Klink” to House’s “Hogan.” Don’t’ get me wrong; I’d love to see more House-Wilson interaction—just not in this context. But I could be proven wrong.

Some fans are predicting Foreman (Omar Epps) as the next dean. Can I just say how completely wrong that feels? Foreman is arrogant (in ways of which House can only dream), self-righteous and does not have a great understanding of how House thinks. I think it would be disastrous, not only for House’s medical practice—but for the series as well. Just, no.

Besides, I can’t believe that Foreman will react well to House’s actions at the end of Season 7. His inclination to say “no” to House will not bode well for anyone.

On the other hand, I’d wouldn’t mind seeing Chase (Jesse Spencer) pick up the dean’s stethoscope. Chase is a creative thinker, but also stable enough to manage House. He knows when to refuse House—and when to go along, even with House’s more extreme measures. His character has always been well written, especially his complicated relationship with House. Although he’s had less to play over the last year, I think an altered dynamic between House and Chase might be very interesting. There is not only a natural affection between the two doctors, but a natural tension as well. I could see this working out in some very interesting ways with Chase as the new dean.

I cannot see Taub in the role at all; he just ain’t ready. I’ve also read speculation that other doctors, from Sam (Wilson’s ex) to House’s psychiatrist Dr. Nolan may step in, but I find that unlikely. As much as I’d love to see Andre Braugher in a regular role on House, I just don’t see that happening. Although as the director of Mayfield, Nolan would have the required administrative experience, I can’t see him being able to trump House on purely medical decisions as Cuddy has done. As far as Sam (Cynthia Watros) goes, she simply does not seem to be a very good doctor. Full stop. Can’t see anyone offering her a position as dean.

Hey, maybe it will be Dr. Simpson, a recurring character on the series since Season 1. After all, he’s on the board, has had run-ins with House and there’s lots of tension there. Hmm. Other than that, I’m stumped. Suggestions, anyone?

I’ll be back in a couple of days with my thoughts on what I’d like to see happen in the Season 8 premiere. But in the meantime, do tell. What would you like to see?

And be sure to vote below in this week’s poll:

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."

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