Been a while since I've written about "House," but I couldn't resist diving into the return of Andre Braugher as Dr. Nolan. So a quick review coming up just as soon as I span the chasm from wishy to washy...

I was on the verge of kicking "House" to the curb when I got to see Braugher and Hugh Laurie duet for the two superb hours of the season premiere. The combination of those two actors together, and then the promise that House - man and show - would actually try to tangibly change, kept me sticking around for half a season. Eventually, though, both House and "House" backslid until they were unrecognizable from the pre-"Broken" days, and I took a step back, watching on occasion but not bothering to write the same old complaints week after week.

But with Braugher having some free time in between seasons of "Men of a Certain Age," Dr. Nolan came back to play House's audience in the series' latest spin on season one's "Three Stories," and on that level, I really enjoyed things. Braugher and Laurie play superbly off of each other, even as Nolan tries to keep things low-key, and if the patient's situation was a way on-the-nose parallel for House's, it was no more than the show usually does with at least one of the doctors. I was also glad to see Alvy again - and to see that the unconvincingly happy ending that character got in "Broken" didn't quite take - even if House backed away from the obvious fondness he was showing the guy by the end of his time in the hospital. (And I believe House would do that, particularly after so much time back in the real world.)

In terms of how the episode dealt with House's lack of improvement from his Mayfield stint, though, I was frustrated. We spend the whole episode waiting for a breakthrough, and that breakthrough is ultimately House's decision that therapy is pointless - that following Dr. Nolan's advice has only made him more miserable, even as his best friend and would-be girlfriend are moving on without him. That might be interesting if we had seen House making the effort all year to connect, but he only did that on occasion (last week, for instance, bonding with the team after Wilson paid them to hang out with him), and the rest of the time reverted back to the manipulative misanthrope he was before he got off Vicodin. The idea that he followed the program and no good came of it has promise; the idea that he largely went back to being an ass and then blamed the program for not making him feel happier just seems like rationalization from a writing staff that's well-trained at writing original-recipe House and understandably reluctant to move away from that for too long.

Still, glad to have Braugher back, and we'll see how (or if) this plays out in next week's finale. My hopes are not up .

What did everybody else think?