Everybody wants to know what makes Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) so cranky. Clues to the medical sleuth's permanent malcontent status emerge on tonight's "House" (8 p.m., Fox) when we get to meet his mom and dad.
This solid episode explores the games of deception and avoidance many adult children play with their parents. A great throwaway line from Dr. Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) reveals the show's running theme. When asked if she lies to her mother, she flippantly replies, "Ever since I was twelve."
House breaks out into sweats of more than usual dread when he discovers that his folks will be in town for a nine-hour layover. This story unfolds against an emergency room drama involving a recent college graduate (Vicellous Shannon) wracked with painful shocks and a cascade of increasingly serious medical setbacks. It doesn't help that his relationship with his father has deteriorated due to his dad's resentment of his new, rich college pals.
The House family reunion is brief, but insightful. Mom (Diane Baker) tries to keep things smooth but exudes a cool demeanor that gives away the fact that she's used to disappointments from her only son. But it takes only one glance at House Sr. to realize just what the dyspeptic doctor has been up against. He is played by none other than R. Lee Ermey, best known for his portrayal of the tyrannical drill Sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket."
Tonight's other highlights
¢ "Hitler's Sunken Secret" on "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS) looks at mysteries and misinformation still surrounding a 1944 mission to sink a Norwegian ferry believed to be carrying "heavy water," a key ingredient in the Nazi's efforts to develop atomic weaponry.
¢ The return of Jess on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
¢ A two-hour helping of "The Amazing Race Family Edition" (8 p.m., CBS) preempts "Close to Home."
¢ Leaks continue to plague the new staff on "Commander in Chief" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ Forrest Sawyer visits Ghana and gets "The Presidential Tour" (9 p.m., Travel Channel).