- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

‘House’ shocker

The Major League Baseball season has come to an end, and fans of good television know what that means — “House” is back on the Fox schedule.

Yes, the staff of the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital returns to work at 9 tonight following a monthlong hiatus courtesy of the national pastime. Just months after his surgery for a gunshot wound, Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie) is back to his cranky old self. In a plotline familiar to the show’s viewers, hospital dean of medicine Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) insists that he apologize for his gruff treatment of a patient. House, of course, refuses — but this time, his stubborness turns out to be a big mistake for the good doctor.

What makes tonight’s solid, if mostly unexceptional, episode must-see TV for die-hard “House” fans is the ending. Just in time for November sweeps, noted character actor David Morse (veteran of another medical drama, NBC’s “St. Elsewhere” from the 1980s) joins the cast for a handful of episodes as a disgruntled patient. The producers of “House” have come up with a very good story line to advance both plot and character development in one of television’s most compelling dramas.

Hargitay back on ‘SVU’

Another popular TV character returns to the small screen tonight. Mariska Hargitay, an Emmy winner this year for her portrayal of Detective Olivia Benson, brings the character back to NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU,” Zap2It.com reports.

Miss Hargitay appeared in this season’s premiere but hasn’t been seen the past four episodes. The actress gave birth to her first child in June and has been on maternity leave. The show’s producers dealt with the absence by transporting Miss Hargitay’s character to an undercover operation in Oregon to infiltrate an eco-terrorist organization. Tonight, though, her Detective Benson comes back to New York to present evidence in a rape case.

Connie Nielsen (“Gladiator”) has filled in for the new mother this season. Her character, Detective Dani Beck, will remain in the show through most of its November sweep episodes, reports Zap2it.com.

Clark to rock again

Couch potatoes have reason to rejoice: This Dec. 31, you can stay home with no regrets when Dick Clark returns as host of ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”

According to Cynopsis magazine, Ryan Seacrest will again join Mr. Clark live from New York City’s Times Square, with Christina Aguilera as the musical guest.

This will be Mr. Clark’s 33rd year hosting the classic New Year’s Eve show. He missed the 2004 and 2005 celebrations but made a brief, emotional appearance with Mr. Seacrest on last year’s telecast.

FNC’s election tour

Fox News Channel is starting its election coverage a week early.

The network’s “You Decide 2006” programming begins tonight at 7 on the cable channel. Shepard Smith, anchor of “The Fox Report” and “Studio B,” goes on tour to five key battleground states to talk to candidates and voters about the big issues in the Nov. 7 midterm elections.

FNC will also air live editions of Mr. Smith’s shows during the tour. Tonight, he’s in Escondido, Calif., and tomorrow he’s in Overland Park, Kan. On Thursday, Mr. Smith travels to Chesterfield, Mo., and will visit Germantown, Tenn., on Friday. The road show wraps on Monday, the day before Election Day, with Mr. Smith reporting from Patterson, N.J.

Tricks and treats

Planning to stay in rather than canvass the streets during tonight’s Halloween festivities? Plenty of chilling TV fare is in store, with nearly every network planning some on-air thrills.

Among the highlights:

• “NCIS” (8 p.m. on CBS) is one of the few broadcast network series to home in on the Halloween theme. Tonight, the team investigates after a Marine is attacked in his home and his daughter is kidnapped on All Hallow’s Eve.

• The entire episode of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” will be in “Skelevision.” The host, band members, guests and even the studio audience will appear as skeleton puppets. That’s at 12:35 a.m. on NBC.

• Those looking for the story behind the stories of Halloween also have options. The Travel Channel has “Most Haunted Live!” (starting today at 4 p.m.) and will stream a live Web cam of the scariest places in Edinburgh, Scotland. Viewers also can e-mail the studio with eyewitness accounts of ghostly sightings.

• The History Channel gives us “The Haunted History of Halloween” at 7 p.m. and “Exorcism: Driving Out the Devil,” a history of the religious ritual, at 8 p.m. Elsewhere, the National Geographic Channel’s “Is It Real?” talks about ghosts at 8 p.m., followed by a look at vampires at 9 p.m.

• Spike TV will rebroadcast the Scream Awards 2006 at 9 p.m. It’s the first awards show for horror, sci-fi, fantasy and comic book fans.

• For a historical take, check out Starz at 11 p.m. for the documentary “Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film.”

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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