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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

House: "It's A Wonderful Lie"

Illustration for article titled iHouse/i: Its A Wonderful Lie
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Illustration for article titled iHouse/i: Its A Wonderful Lie

Hey, it's Christmas again! How nice of House to remind us that Scrooge knows no season. (Noel's traveling this week, by the way, which is why I'm filling in. Plus, he already has a MacBook and an iPod Touch, so there was really no benefit he could have derived from the show.)

There's some twisted sense in holding onto this holiday episode until nearly February, because this is the first case with the new team fully in place. The battle-tested foursome of Taub, Thirteen, Foreman and Kutner are hereby enlisted in House's ongoing battle with any remnants of optimism that might remain in the world. The premise this week is that a breast cancer survivor who has pledged never to hide anything from her daughter (played by Janel Moloney, formerly Josh's assistant Donna on The West Wing) has been lying about something that explains her creeping paralysis. "Her honesty proves just how dishonest she is," in the words of Thirteen's sarcastic summary.

The episode abounds with head game moments — some of them literal. House psychoanalyzes the team's reaction to the names they draw out of the secret Santa hat to deduce the relationships among the group. And to test the theory that the blindness and paralysis is hysterical, Taub pretends to give her a cure — lying to her mind to see if her mind will stop lying to her body.

Although at times the episode was a more shameless Apple commercial than the frequent MacBook Air ads in the breaks — two purloined laptops and an iPhone that House gushes over— it does present House with an interesting variation on his usual misanthropy. Now that the competition is over, he needs to pit the winners against each other to keep them on their toes. And his efforts even infect Foreman, who anxiously consults Chase on the matter of whether to get House a Christmas present.

But just when it looks like the only holiday cheer is going to come from bleak existential truth, Hugh Laurie not only sings (woo-hoo!) but performs a bona fide Christmas miracle. "I am going to perform a Christmas miracle!" he announces cheerily. And then he passes by all the cheer — the team that failed to wind up at each other's throats — and goes out into the snow alone.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

- House is back in the clinic?! How's this going to pay off? Prostitute … donkey show … nativity scene … oh, okay. I mean, I see how it all comes together, but I still don't know whether he's getting inspired or getting off. Kinda creepy, if you ask me.

- Did we hire Thirteen just to be the new Cameron? She certainly set out to prove the inherent goodness of humanity darn quick. Or is it that we are to presume Cameron has been sufficiently cynicalized as not to be able to fulfill that role anymore?

- The new MacBook Air fits in an interoffice mail envelope, people!

- If Taub doesn't turn out to be the MVP of the new batch, I'll eat my novelty reindeer hat. The casual anti-Semitism House gets to lob at him week after week has not been seen since the days of Archie Bunker.

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