Hugh Laurie, House

Turns out you can't just drive your car through someone's house and spend the rest of your days sipping fruity drinks on the beach. That's something Dr. Gregory House will be keenly aware of as House's eighth season begins.

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"Actions have consequences — even on TV," creator and executive producer David Shore tells TVGuide.com. "He wasn't trying to hurt anybody; he was trying to lash out. But you can't have him just walk away from something like that. So the decision was made to punish the guy, and [we thought,] 'How can we have fun while doing that?'"

The answer is a departure episode (Monday, 9/8c, Fox) similar to the Season 6 premiere that took place with House in a mental hospital. This time, we find House (Hugh Laurie) several months into a prison sentence and five days away from being granted parole, despite a less-than-cuddly encounter with the parole board. Basically, if he keeps his mouth shut, he'll be sprung.

But this is House we're talking about. While making the rounds as the correctional facility's trash collector, House stumbles into the clinic, where he meets Dr. Jessica Adams (Odette Annable). And as luck would have it, he catches her right in the middle of making a bad diagnosis. Cue a battle of brains that puts House at odds with the prison's clinical staff and in danger of staying locked up awhile longer.

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But House ultimately inspires Dr. Adams to do a little outside-the-box thinking. "She's used to being the smartest person in the room ... but she's truly fascinated by him as a doctor," Annable says. "She's very passionate about medicine and he sort of ... revives something that she was losing for a second. She's sort of an overachiever with a cause, and her cause is to help people.  You'll see that they help each other."

Shore wasn't interested in turning House into Oz 2.0. Thus, the curmudgeonly doctor will again be roaming the halls of Princeton Plainsboro soon enough. But will he emerge a changed man? Not so much.

"House recognizes that he has to pay prices," Shore says. "That doesn't mean he's going to change. He will always do what he believes is right. Previous experience will  go into those decisions, but not in the sense of, 'Oh, is this going to cost me?'

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"You're not going to see a different House this year," Shore says. "Last year he tried to change, and I think this year he's going to say that was stupid on a certain level.  ... So, House's reaction to that is to not go down that path again so fast."

The world around House, however, will have changed dramatically. Ex-lover Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) is gone, which means House has a new boss. And House's relationship with best friend Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) is deeply damaged.

"He's going to have to, in his own House way, win Wilson back," Shore teases. "Whether he can do that, how he can do that and what price he'll have to pay to do that is a large chunk of what Episode 2 is all about."

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The same will be true to a lesser degree for the other members of House's team. "There aren't a lot of old faces at the beginning," Shore says. "We're going to let the new faces shine a bit. It goes to the point that people don't just sit around and wait for House to serve a prison sentence. People have, to a great extent, moved on with their lives, and House is going spend some time at the beginning of this year getting things back to his view of normal."

And at the end of the day, House's brains will probably be his saving grace. "He's a brilliant guy, and that's not going to change," Shore says. "What will change is his dynamic with his boss and the potential threat that his boss can make against him. And there's some fallout. But House is still a brilliant diagnostician, and the people around him are still smart enough to recognize that."

House premieres Monday at 9/8c on Fox.