Forget the “medical mystery” story that provides the background for every episode; “House” is a successful show because it proves that we can all enjoy character-based drama. Sure, some of its insights aren’t as deep as we would like them to be, but in an age where every other show is a generic cop drama, we’ll take what we can get. And damn, when we get it, it is good. This week’s “House” is one to remember. Read the review to find out why…

The Players:

  • Director: Miguel Sapochnik
  • Writer: Peter Blake
  • Cast: Hugh Laurie, Lisa Edelstein, Candace Bergen, Amber Tamblyn, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, Peter Jacobson

Episode Title: “Family Practice”

Cuddy’s mom visits the hospital suffering from, as is often the case with “House”, a variety of bizarre symptoms. Unhappy with the prospect of treating his girlfriend’s mother, House is initially convinced that she is suffering from little more than a case of hypochondria. However, when her condition worsens, he is fired from the case and must cure her covertly, putting the careers of his team at risk. In the meantime, Taub takes on a consulting job at his brother-in-law’s law firm, but he finds it difficult to square his own beliefs with the ethics of the firm.

The Good:

  • Masters: Yeah, she’s still far too meek to take seriously, but while her overall demeanor may be perpetually comparable to that of a little kid who was caught in a lie, she’s at least showing her integrity in this episode. A lot of people can talk about their principles, but it takes a strong character to put her future on the line in service of them.
  • Taub: For that matter, Taub also shows his inner strength. Like any “House” character, he suffers from flaws that the writers never allow him to overcome, but his infidelity doesn’t make him a horrible person. Case in point: he sacrifices an extra fifty grand a year to alert a woman to a health problem he believes to be affecting her son, one which he thinks the original assessment from the law firm overlooked. True, his own assessment turned out to be wrong, but he did what he thought was right, and that’s more important than being right in some instances.
  • Cuddy: Cuddy is a complex character; this show could as easily have been about her instead of House. However, because we do focus on the brilliant diagnostician, Cuddy is often relegated to the role of love interest. She finally gets the opportunity to show her own strengths and weaknesses here by confronting her mother’s differing treatments of her and her sister.
  • House: Looking back on the “Good” section of this review, we’re happy to report that all of the headings are the names of characters. That’s the kind of episode this one was. The medical mystery was largely unimportant. The way the characters conducted themselves was more important, and as such, it was a memorable hour of television. House will always be a complicated character, but his insistence on curing Cuddy’s mom showed a vulnerable side that we rarely see.

The So-So:

  • Law Firm: While it was a delight to see Michael Gladis of “Mad Men” fame appearing as a heartless lawyer in this episode, Hollywood can’t seem to understand that sometimes big law firms aren’t always evil. In an episode that showed the fragility oh all human beings, it seemed out of place to throw in a big, bad defense lawyer.

The Bad:

  • Cuddy’s Mom: While Candace Bergen does an excellent job in her role, the depiction of the character is a little predictable. The old lady who thinks she’s sick, drinks champagne before lunch and sleeps with the gardener doesn’t do service to the character we could have had.

Overall:

A very strong episode that proves that “House” is as relevant as ever. This show is, at its core, about human relationships, and we get plenty of that in this episoe. The complaints are minor. It was another classic.

Rating: 9/10

“House” airs every Monday on FOX!

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What did you think of last night’s episode? Tell us in the comments!