oh, I should clarify about Cuddy's replacement. It's a reasonably educated guess based on the details that have been released/clarified. I was typing too many things in too many browsers and sent that prematurely :)
They have all but confirmed that this is the last season; if you look at the one season deals they struck and who they were prepared to let go the writing was on the wall in January. Comcast bought NBC Universal for $13.8 billion; they need to offset that over the next x years through many avenues. NBC are doing a FOX and axing shows that aren't an immediate success this year. Hugh Laurie alone pulls in over $400,000 an episode (highest paid actor in a drama series) and ratings are slipping. Not often do shows last this long and remain solid enough to keep their audience. They are taking the opportunity to let it go while ratings and sponorship are still high; it won't be the only show high profile show they wind up.
They'll focus on developing new shows with actors who don't command those figures, look for a few hits, pump up sponsorship and its a few years before actors contracts can be renegotionated.
With all this in mind they are pushing an existing character in to the role that we already carry their baggage; there is no time to break a new character in. What is out there is that Cuddy's replacement is someone we have already seen and know, and that they were looking for an actress to take over. They need 'rehydratable conflict, just add water' [I'm trademarking that]. As long as that all holds the only candidate, to me, is Sam (Cynthia Watros). It serves as an easy departure for Wilson and House can resent her for him leaving.
...but if it ends up being Foreman my new TV will end up with a remote flung at it.
[I think these two shouts should read correctly together, if not, work it out]
I agree about Yi. Finding it hard to picture how she will fit in. It will be a big break for her if she pulls it off, otherwise it's going to be a long crawl for her. She's a little niche.
Maybe check out Paper Heart with her and Michael Cera (who were dating at the time). It's kind of interesting.
I'm unsure of what I think of Cuddy's replacement though, feels a little forced.
Having only seen Charlyne Yi in 'Knocked Up', I'm really not looking forward to seeing her in house. I hope she will prove me wrong. this definitely needs to be the final season... I'll miss House.
Such a shame this season is going to be missing quite a few faces. Not the most ideal way to complete a series but I agree with MMF, best to end once the season finishes.
I would imagine they would be throwing the idea around so I suspect there will be quite a lot of interesting plot development and conflict.