Excels At: Uh, winning the People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Drama despite consistently-falling ratings and endless bitching/moaning from loyal fans, apparently. It boggles the mind. Oh, and also: being a constant disappointment.
Needs Improvement: How much time have we got? Sigh. Although the overwhelming focus on Thirteen seems to be subsiding slowly as the episodes have gone on, it's perhaps too little, too late. I (as well as many, many others) am already far too sick of her. That having been said, she's charmingly delightful and enjoyable when relegated to her rightful place on the sidelines with the other newbies. Let's do more of that - I find myself paying more attention to her when she's barely there as opposed to when she's there in almost every scene. Which is practically every episode. So, ya know, let's do something about that. Also, the House/Cuddy relationship (which we'll get to momentarily) was and still could be thoroughly enjoyable, but now it's starting to feel like it's being shoved down my throat just as painfully as Thirteen was in the beginning. Learn to lay off a little. There's something great to be said for a slow build when hoping to get people connected with a character/pairing. Less really can be much, much more.
On an even bigger level, the focus on House/Cuddy & all things Thirteen is severely detracting from any efforts to put some focus on Wilson, Taub, Kutner, Chase and Cameron. Wilson is back to being nothing more than House's conscience, which is maybe okay since Robert Sean Leonard prefers to work as little as possible anyway, but "House's Head/Wilson's Heart" was one of the greatest pieces of television ever - I'd like to see more Wilson exploration. And Foreman's getting his just desserts now with the Huntington's drug trial and (gag me) his budding romance with (gag me) Thirteen. But Kutner and Taub basically run around like the new bossom buddies--and wildly crack me up in the process, mind you--who we rarely learn anything worthwhile about at all. And Chase and Cameron are still (still!) nothing more than glorified guest stars who pop in for a cameo once or twice each week. If even that much.
The point here? Share the screentime wealth. This is an ensemble show. Yes, it's basically about House, but it's still an ensemble. You've been promising character integration and equal story time for over a year now--time for some follow through! Oh, and get rid of the new and absolutely irritating 6-act format. Too many commercial breaks makes it almost impossible to really get invested in an episode.
Interpersonal Dynamics: New to the fold is Foreman/Thirteen - better known as the cheeky "Foreteen." Truth be told, this pairing could end up being pretty interesting if done properly. And doing it properly means taking the advice given above: slow and steady wins the race. Do not shove these two down my throat, okay? I'm sick of Thirteen enough as it is, and I've never really been very fond of Foreman. You're walking a fine line of "incredibly, unbearably boring" with this pairing, but... maybe two characters who are dreadful on their own could end up being kind of interesting together. The other new development (sort of) is House/Cuddy. This has been building for years--since practically the Pilot. It needs to be explored, like it or not, if only to be able to say "been there, tried that, it didn't work." I have nothing against this pairing, beyond what I stated earlier about Bogarting the screentime, but I still don't think it's really possible for this "couple" to become anything serious; if for no other reason than that I can't imagine House ever being in a long term, serious relationship again. Unless Stacy comes back. Which would be totally okay with me.
And, of course (did you think I would not mention them?), there's Chase/Cameron. It's great that we finally got more insight into their relationship with "The Itch," but even that was just the tip of the iceberg. And it's nice that most of their cameo appearances lately have been in scenes together, since that was a rare occurrence last season & at the start of this one, but we're still being neglected of practically anything that establishes them as anything more than friends/colleagues. These two have been in a canon, committed relationship for over a year and a half now--if you want to bring romance back into the fold of the show (which you seem to, with all of the Foreteen/Huddy action lately), then try doing so with the established relationship you've been neglecting since practically the moment they became an established relationship.
Particularly Notable: Chase steals the show every week, and he typically only has one scene. Sometimes only one or two lines in that singular scene. But Jesse Spencer has become surprisingly adept at facial expressions and line delivery--he was always pretty good at his quick quips, but lately it's been insanely perfect. The character of Chase is vastly different in attitude than the pansy-ass brown-noser that he used to be (despite knowing, and loving, that he still has a romantic soft spot inside), but this self-sufficient, rebellious, snarky-little-bastard version of Robert Chase is much, much more entertaining. In the words of Cameron, "I like him better like this. You?"
Also notable, for the record, was the morgue scene at the end of "Let Them Eat Cake." I have not laughed at this show that loud or that hard in a very long time. And I doubt I'll ever get tired of watching Kutner and Taub scream like little girls.
Pay Attention To: The possibility for ethical dilemmas in the "Foreteen" relationship. Word is, Foreman's going to compromise ethics to make sure Thirteen gets the real drugs in the trial instead of the placebo. I've got good money on the probability that he'll find himself fired for it soon. It's also bound to get under House's skin, finding out that his attending is dating their subordinate--fun antics are surely in store when House starts trying to ruin their relationship, which I'm certain he will.
Next Semester: The upcoming boss!Cam story. Although I do think it's probably just temporary, there's another part of me that's certain Cuddy's baby is permanent and is also the much-touted "show-altering change" that we were told was coming. Perhaps she's show-altering in more ways than just her existence--perhaps this change between Cuddy & Cameron isn't all that temporary after all. And even if it is, the boss!Cam plot holds far too many awesome possibilities of exploration for it to not end up having a tremendous affect. DON'T SCREW IT UP. Oh, and, for chrissake, give Chase his own story arc already!
To make a long story short, just... stop telling your fans that we don't know what we need. You disregarded our opinions and demands for the past 18+ months, and your ratings are still tanking--I don't care what the PCA's say. Listen to your audience. Try it our way now.
Overall Grade: C.