TV Review: 'House' gets clean bill of health

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Who would have thought a prime-time drama featuring a grumpy doctor would be the No. 1 scripted show on TV among teens? It certainly never occurred to me that Fox's "House" (9 tonight, WPGH) would become such a young-skewing hit, but last season it was a huge teen success, even building on the teen ratings of lead-in "American Idol."

"It's all about attitude," said Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Liguori at a Hollywood party in July. "He's child-like, he's subversive, he does things his way. He's a rebel, and that's what kids are."

How nice, too, that "House" has huge appeal to all audiences, not just teens. With star Hugh Laurie's perfect-pitch performance, "House" is a hit across all demographics, and tonight's fourth season premiere shows exactly why. Though procedural at its heart with a different medical mystery every week, there's also enough of a continuing story to keep fans of character drama coming back for more.

At the end of last season, House (Laurie) found himself without a team after Foreman (Omar Epps) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) quit and House fired Chase (Jesse Spencer). Now Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) is insisting that House pick a new team for him to bounce his diagnoses off, but House resists her efforts, instead enlisting a floor-cleaning janitor he nicknames "Dr. Buffer."

The medical case -- a woman seriously injured in a building collapse who sees her condition worsen for unexplainable reasons -- informs the story of House refusing to hire a new team.

In next week's episode, House begins the process of selecting replacements, but fans of the old group shouldn't lose hope: Those actors all remain in the opening credits and will soon begin appearing in the series again.

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at under TV Q&A.

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