One thing I’ve always loved and admired about “House” is its ability to reinvent itself season after season, tweaking the formula just enough to keep things interesting. With the premiere of Season 6, however, what we’re given is a two-hour episode that throws away the format, offers only the briefest appearance by any other cast member, and is not only strong enough to warrant giving Hugh Laurie an Emmy nomination no matter what else he may do on the show during the course of the season’s subsequent episodes, but, indeed, could’ve been released as a theatrical film during the summer, a la “The X-Files: Fight the Future” from back in the day.

Seriously, it’s that good.

Season 6 of “House” kicks off where Season 5 of “House” left off: with its title character, Dr. Gregory House, within the walls of the Mayfield Psychiatric Hospital. The decision to enter Mayfield came via House himself, however, so as anyone who’s watched their fair share of medical dramas knows, that allows him the option to check himself out at any time…which, following an appropriately harsh opening sequence (set to Radiohead’s “No Surprises”) that details what he’s suffered through duriing his cleansing process, is exactly what he attempts to do.

If you know much of Andre Braugher’s work as an actor, then you won’t think for a moment that his character here – Dr. Daryl Nolan – is going to be anything resembling a pushover…and you’re right. House instantly sets the stage for confrontation by bursting into his office without prelude, offering one of his usual tactless opening lines (“And he’s black!”), then following it with another (“I thought you’d be a little more sensitive on this slavery issue”), as if either is really going to help his cause and aid him in getting his walking papers. Nolan and House quickly begin a verbal duel, with Nolan daring to make completely valid observations about House’s state of mind prior to entering Mayfield and suggesting that a stint in the hospital’s long-term ward might be a good idea. House demands to exercise his God-given right to depart, Nolan counters by reminding him that, even if he leaves, he won’t be able to practice medicine without his recommendation.

Well, if there’s any who can appreciate the merits of blackmail, it’s House. Still, the situation he finds himself in is about as close to a living hell as he can possibly imagine, starting first and foremost with his brand new and completely in-your-face roommate, Alvie (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who doesn’t take a single breath within his opening salvo:

“Who are you? Can you believe these guys, lecturing me on manic depression? Like I couldn’t write a book or two. I stopped taking my meds because I wanted to stop taking my meds. Because nothing’s wrong with me. No reason to keep dragging me back here. When I’m on them, everything slows down. That’s when the problem is. Hey, nice to see you. My roommate last time couldn’t stand me. I’m Juan Alverez. Jay’s my stage name, but Alvie’s what everybody around here calls me. Like the Woody Allen character in ‘Annie Hall.’ But the Puerto Rican version. And not as neurotic.”

In typical fashion, House completely lays waste to any attempts by his doctors to help him. They put him in a group session (which features such familiar faces as Curtis Armstrong, a.k.a. Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds,” and Alex D├ęsert, late of “Becker”), and after he’s introduced, his immediate response is to say, “Don’t worry about the name. I’m just passing through. Don’t want to break any hearts,” then to offer up his own diagnoses of his fellow patients, from anorexia to paranoid schizophrenia to suicidal tendencies. They try to make him “play nice” by putting him on the basketball court with the gang, and he proceeds to empty the playing field by cutting each and every one of the other players to the quick. (Example: he shuts down the girl who had attempted suicide by asking her, “How upset were you when you woke up in the E.R. and you were still alive…and a failure?”) Way to make friends and influence people, House…and, yet, when he’s received his reprimand and given a chance to change his tune, he switches tactics by bringing the patients over to his side of the fence and turning them against the doctors.

It’s at the halfway point of the episode, however, where things really change direction. Part of it comes courtesy of the beautiful Lydia (Franka Potente), who regularly comes to visit one of the other patients but develops an appreciation of the mystery that is House. More important, however, is Steve, a fellow patient who’s convinced that he’s a superhero. For whatever reason, House latches onto Steve and takes him under his wing, so to speak, but when a well-intentioned attempt by House to let Steve enjoy his delusion to the fullest extent goes horribly wrong, things turn in an unexpected direction, one which you should enjoy as it unravels rather than in a blog entry.

Have I sufficiently tempted you yet…?

If not, I’ll close with this final comment: I’m the site’s resident “Heroes” blogger and a diehard “How I Met Your Mother” / “The Big Bang Theory” fan, and yet I’d still have to say that “House” is almost certainly going to be the best thing you’ll find on television tonight.