Review | House

Credit: Fox

Air Date: Monday 2/7

Us Rating: ****

By now, fans of the hyperdriven drama know to expect plenty of twists as the show's titular doc (Hugh Laurie) and his cohorts rush to solve each patient's confounding ailment. But this week's roller-coaster ride has higher stakes than usual because -- much to the shock of hospital boss Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) -- the stranger who's mysteriously dying is her insult-tossing mom, Arlene (Candice Bergen, putting a pro's spin on what could be a one-note role).

What unfolds is an enthralling Pandora's box of tension at Princeton-Plainsborough: Cuddy demands that beau House treat her mother; Mom won't let him (they don't get along); then House goes to wild lengths to bypass protocol (he even has Arlene's hospital room bugged!). Despite this far-fetched development, the episode is compelling and believable. And while some fans may grouse that House and Cuddy's newfound love has drained their push-and-pull relationship, this pressure-filled, personal crisis illustrates that there's still fire left in TV's most cerebral couple. (Fox, 8 p.m.)

--JOHN GRIFFITHS