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One of my favorite television characters of all time is cranky, Vicodin-addicted Gregory House and the thought of him ending up in a psych ward after last season’s meltdown seemed like it would be a great idea for last night’s season premiere of “House” on Fox. And it was, for the first hour, anyway. In a brilliant variation of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” House tried to outwit a nurse and the psych ward administrator so he could go back to his old life. In the process, House got his fellow patients in an uproar, befriended an emotionally disturbed man, and suddenly became, by the end of the show, almost human.
Good news for the character of House, maybe, but bad news for those of us who love the show.


One of the reasons audience members love House – or perhaps love to hate him – is that he is our catharsis. He says what we wouldn’t dare, does what we wish we could at times, and feels the pain of all of humankind in certain moments. But House’s healing and transformation into the nice guy we saw in the final scenes of the two-hour season opener leaves us without a scapegoat for our pain, outrage, or frustration. In other words, House’s healing takes away a valuable mirror through which we have been allowed to examine our own brokeness.
The other reason I have always been drawn to him is because he is the best modern version of a doubting Thomas I can think of. Now with House being all warm and fuzzy to his fellow man these days, well, he’s lost that edge that made him angry at the very God he has always claimed he doesn’t believe exists.
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Of course, the series may find yet a new and clever to turn the misanthropic doctor back into his old life of drug-induced misery that we have know for five years now, but for some reason I am not particularly hopeful House fully regain his wounded nature. And House’s lack of pain is, so far, certainly not the audience’s gain.

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