'House' Gets a Leg Up


Before we get to the coming season of "House," we should probably clear up any lingering doubt about the events of last season's finale.

House (Hugh Laurie) did, in fact, get shot by the husband of a former patient. And as he went into surgery, he did ask his colleague Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) for ketamine, a drug that could potentially fix the doctor's atrophied leg. Everything else was in House's head.

It won't take long for viewers to find out whether the ketamine did any good, "House" executive producer Katie Jacobs says.

"We're going to pick up sort of in real time," Jacobs says. "His last request was that Cuddy give him ketamine, which might give him a chance to be pain-free, and she will have done that. So at the beginning of the season, we're going to explore what it would be like if this was a success and House was pain-free."

The premiere, at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, and subsequent episodes will give the show's writers a chance to delve into how much of House's identity was tied up with his condition.

One of the ideas of the extended dream sequence in May's finale, Jacobs says, was "that certain people are defined by their illness. Is House defined by his illness, and who would he be if he's pain-free?"

We'll get a sense of that in the premiere episode, but fans of Laurie's acerbic portrayal needn't worry -- House hasn't suddenly become Patch Adams. (Besides, based on what we know of House's past, he was a pretty cantankerous guy even before his illness.)

"In some ways I think he's sort of stuck in adolescence. He's that arrogant, smart, bright kid," Jacobs says. "And he's -- he's a man now and may have outgrown it, but he doesn't know that. ...

"But there's also an element of House that -- it's not so much only that he doesn't want to see patients. I think that part of the things that happened after the incident with his leg is that he doesn't want patients to see him. [In his mind], what kind of confidence can you have in a doctor who's handicapped? So I think that's probably the biggest change from before he was ill to now."

And even if his leg is cured, there's still the matter of House's Vicodin habit. "That will all unravel at the beginning" of the season, Jacobs says. She's loath to give too many specifics, but she does promise that "we're going to touch on all of that ... and there's a very realistic way we settle it."

House's pill habit will also attract the attention of a police officer (David Morse, "16 Blocks") who will become a foil for the doctor. "House is, basically by just being House, going to piss off the wrong guy," Jacobs says. "That guy's going to be a cop, and that cop is going to be hip to the fact that House is not necessarily conducting his business on the up and up.

"It's going to be an arc to follow that's going to be really interesting."

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