There is not much for me to write about today. The Writer’s Strike might be over, but as you can see on the right-hand list, new episodes will not be arriving for another few weeks. So that I do not have as thin a week as last, I have decided to start a new series; “For the Love Of.” This differs from “My Weekend Fling” series (shows I Netflix entire seasons of and watch in one go), because this series covers shows I follow on a regular basis, but have not had the opportunity or inclination to write about thus far.
Most people are highly embarrassed to admit they watch a CBS sitcom, and they rightly should be. Despite “gripping” procedurals, CBS is the last dog in the network race. I believe they do themselves no favors by continuing Big Brother. There are good shows on CBS, but they always seem to be bracketed by things you would not make inmates watch. For years the sitcoms that air on CBS have been unfunny at best (Everybody Loves Raymond, The King of Queens) and shrill at worst (Two and a Half Men); this genera is the most difficult for this network. It was just not appropriate to disclose your viewership of a CBS sitcom in mixed company. Then along came How I Met Your Mother, and CBS may not have changed that much, but all of our live became just a bit brighter. My brother Basil first mentioned the show to me. I was immensely skeptical; even my profound love of Alyson Hannigan (Buffy) and Jason Segel (Freaks and Geeks) could not untie that shame-knot in my stomach when I contemplated becoming one of “those people” who watches CBS sitcoms. About a year ago, spurred by a strange moment of desiring something to talk about with my brother, I Netflixed Season One. I watched the entire season, all 22 episodes, in one night. (I did not have work or class the next day.) I was like a woman possessed. I have been a devoted fan ever since.
How I Met Your Mother is a show where the title actually corresponds to the content of the show in a literal way (as opposed to the show where the title is some cute joke that makes me want to puke). Narrator future Ted Mosby (voiced by, who the hell would have thought, Bob Saget) decides to tell his two adolescent children the entire story of how he met their mother. This is the format of the show; every episode begins and ends with the narrator. The story, for the children and the audience, begins with the engagement of his best friends Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan). Ted (Josh Radnor) decides that it is time for him to start looking for that long term special someone, and he thinks he has discovered her in Robin (Cobie Smulders). What looks like is going to be a run of the mill show (boy and girl meet and for seasons we watch them get together, break-up and get back together) is turned on its head when at the end of the Pilot episode we find out that Robin is know to the little Mosby’s as “Aunt” Robin. How I Met Your Mother is a show about how you become the person you are when you do eventually find the love of your life.
I was excited to find out that Robin does not become Ted’s wife. I am not a huge Robin enthusiast, but in all fairness it is not really her fault. Robin is one of those characters that the other characters talk about as being funny, smart, and interesting, but none of her dialogue is particularly funny, smart, or interesting. Ted sees Robin as amazing, but as a viewer I find her underwhelming. She would be a fine character if a point had not been made about how spectacular she is supposed to be.
Robin’s merits may be a matter of debate. What is beyond any question is that Barney is one of the most fantastic characters on TV. Neil Patrick Harris’ performance is flawless; he has pinpoint accurate comic timing, complete awareness of his body as a tool for comedy, and his voice inflections convey all the tiny shades of difference between one type of sarcasm and another. There is not one single moment on HIMYM that as a viewer you doubt that this man is his suit-wearing, womanizing, high-fiving character. If you think Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock is genius, well give Neil a try, because I think, as excellent as Alec is, Mr. Harris is astounding. And in Barney the actor’s form has been united with perfect content of character. I would not be able to see what a wonderful actor this man is if his character were not so distinct and only a wonderful actor could bring this character to life. Barney is an amalgamation of Joey (from Friends)’s sex drive and M.O., House’s wit and self-absorption/delusion, Shawn Spencer (from Psych)’s creativity for the carnivalesque, GOB Bluth’s distaste for marriage, and Mr. Big’s wardrobe. I hope this description has not deterred any potential viewers; Barney has affinities to all these characters, but he is unto himself. In a smaller, but no less important way, I think that like George and Jerry, Barney will become a culturally absorbed character independent of the show from which he sprang.
The other characters are not too bad either.
I will be honest and tell you that I did not tune in last night to the rerun of How I Met Your Mother. (A last minute dinner invite induced me to spend the evening with actual live human beings.) It was the episode “Slapsgiving” and it is one of my top five favorite episodes. There is turkey, sex, slapping, and singing; it is legen wait for it dary.
The TV Girl
Making the world a better place, one show at a time.
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- I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.