Hugh Laurie, Amber Tamblyn
House (Monday, 8/7c, Fox)
This homecoming will be a cause either for celebration or lamentation, depending on your affections for Thirteen, the enigma who's been MIA while Olivia Wilde has been off making movies (including the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens). So now we know where Thirteen has been: prison. But why? That's House's mission, as he greets her at the prison gates as she's released, and they head on a journey of discovery that plays out against the unorthodox backdrop of a spud-gun competition. Meanwhile, back at Princeton Plainsboro, the team learns their latest mystery patient is a hoarder. Also Monday, another comeback from a show in transition, as NBC's struggling Law & Order: Los Angeles returns from hiatus to shake up the formula in back-to-back episodes. Goodbye, Skeet Ulrich, who'll be replaced on the detective side by Alfred Molina, turning in his D.A. stripes. Joining Terrence Howard for the prosecution: former Law & Order head-turner Alana de la Garza.
Sports Show with Norm Macdonald (Tuesday, 10:30/9:30c, Comedy Central)
Speaking of comebacks, the sardonic former Saturday Night Live comic — famously fired by NBC brass during his controversial stint as one of the show's more unsparing Weekend Update anchors — is back behind a mock news desk. Taped in front of a studio audience, this weekly commentary on the world of sports will include field segments, coverage of events big and obscure, all filtered through Norm Macdonald's acerbic, droll worldview. But some of us wonder: Will he use this as an opportunity to reprise his legendary Larry King impersonation?
Modern Family (Wednesday, 9/8c, ABC)
Oh how we miss this extended family during repeat cycles. The show returns with a joke-filled hoot of an episode built around Cameron's overzealous embrace of his interim position as Franklin Middle School's musical director. With Luke and Manny among his victims, and Mitchell doing his best to bite his tongue, Cam goes predictably over the top in his staging of an "Around the World" musical extravaganza. As the rest of the family gathers to watch, including Jay and his brawling brother Tommy (Jonathan Banks), pay special attention to the new real-estate ad Phil has plastered all over his and Claire's mini-van. There's such a thing as putting family first a little too strenuously. Earlier in the evening, on The Middle (8/7c), the Hecks suspect Mike has an ulterior motive for punishing his son Axl and forbidding him to play in the school's final basketball game of the season. (Could it have something to do with a free-throw record Mike still proudly holds?)
The Office (Thursday, 9/8c, NBC)
Coming off one of the best Office episodes in a long while — Michael's soggy proposal to Holly, and announcement that he's leaving — the transition at Dunder Mifflin begins with a megastar bang. Arriving for the first of four special appearances is Will Ferrell as Deangelo Vickers, the new manager who most everyone is trying to impress — including Jim and Pam, who fret they're trying too hard to make a good first impression. Dwight, on the other hand ... well, you know that won't be pretty. In other NBC comedy news, Community finds Abed immersed in the advanced study of Who's the Boss? courtesy of expert prof Stephen Tobolowsky. And on Parks and Recreation, Andy and April host a dinner party, while Ann rebounds from her breakup with Chris by giving a singles party a whirl.
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