“House” (7 p.m., Fox) deviates from formula tonight and offers an entire episode as seen through the eyes of Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), the hospital’s beleaguered dean of medicine.
Over the course of her day, Cuddy contends with a sick baby, a young lover, House’s impetuous immaturity, a turf war between surgeons, suspicious activity in the pharmacy and a battle with a major insurance provider.
This last tussle dominates the proceedings and allows at least this episode of “House” to comment on the fiasco of health care funding and delivery.
One patient demands to avoid vital surgery, not because he doesn’t need it but because it will drive him into bankruptcy. And when Cuddy threatens to turn her insurance battle into a public-relations war, an indifferent CEO dismisses her between bites of his Kobe steak and quips about his private jet. “I don’t care if you paint me as a rich (expletive). As long as I stay a rich (expletive).”
The episode’s strident arguments about the destructive place of profit in medicine take a back seat to its central message. In some ways, Cuddy is to Princeton Plainsboro Hospital what Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is to TGS on “30 Rock” — the sane den mother who keeps the lunatics in check.
• “American Experience” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “The Bombing of Germany,” a look at how the U.S. military changed tactics to defeat the Third Reich.
Well into the war, the American Army Air Forces maintained a policy of pinpoint targeting of only military facilities and targets of strategic economic importance. The British had long since decided to retaliate against Nazi attacks on cities and civilian populations. Many American generals felt that this was both ineffective and morally wrong.
But after suffering massive losses and realizing that an all-but-defeated Nazi regime was unwilling to surrender, the policy changed, and American bombers rained ruin on Berlin, Dresden and other population centers, causing casualties in the hundreds of thousands.
Many argued even then that America had crossed a moral divide when it deliberately incinerated civilians. But a historian counters that perhaps the most immoral thing we could have done “was to lose the war.”
Tonight’s other highlights
• Chuck works with Hannah on “Chuck” (7 p.m., NBC).
• The third installment of “The Black List” (7:30 p.m., HBO) interviews and profiles prominent Americans.
• Samuel’s plan has dire repercussions on the season finale of “Heroes” (8 p.m., NBC). That was quick.
• The search for nukes drives Jack further undercover on “24” (8 p.m., Fox).