From saving lives while stranded in an airport to getting caught stealing painkillers from a corpse, Dr. Gregory House has had quite a journey in 2006. In between he got shot, committed adultery (from the forgivable end), aided a suicide, ran on a miraculously healed leg and ate his best friend’s lunch. And yet, nothing has changed. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Used to be, the cast was the only thing keeping House afloat. Without House, and Cameron and Forman, Chase and Cuddy, and even Wilson, this show would long ago have sunk into the deep and incomprehensible morass of medical and/or forensic dramas that blot our screen every week. But gradually, and this year moreso than ever, House has distanced itself from that pack. So much moreso that it’s able to do things to these characters that endanger their greatness, even if it never actually dares go far enough to actually change them.
But House doesn’t need to keep us on edge. It doesn’t really need to be unpredictable, even though, at its core, it is a mystery show. It’s funnier than most comedies, but it certainly doesn’t depend on that fact to succeed. In essence, it is the pinnacle of formulaic television. Showing us every week that you don’t have to be different that the rest of TV to be great, just better.