Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"New dart": How I Met Your Mother

Spoilers! And, in lieu of having access to network-approved stills from these episodes, I'm just going to post a photo of Cobie Smulders. Smulderiffic!

I thought this was probably the weakest episode of How I Met Your Mother's second season so far, despite the presence of the estimable Bryan Cranston, reprising his role as Ted's co-worker Hammond Druthers. There were a lot of solid laughs, but neither of the two storylines ever added up to more than a collection of jokes. The jokes, of course, were funny, but I wanted something beyond that. Plus, some of the storylines were rather out of character in some cases -- would Lily REALLY be averse to painting "Little Barney"? For $10,000? And would he just let it go like that?

Also, in theory, Hammond's life just getting worse and worse and Ted contributing to that at the worst possible moment was an idea with potential, but it played meaner than it probably should have. I've heard from some that this show is a mean one, but I've never bought that. The central characters are all very sweet to each other, and their relationships are a nice foundation to build the rest of the show on. But this episode sort of tossed that out the window, it felt like, even though I'm sure at the script stage this felt like a better idea than it ended up being.

I like that Mother is interested in covering the big milestones in its characters' lives (tonight, we saw Ted become the boss at work), but I don't know that the episode rose to that level of promise.

Still, there was plenty of stuff I enjoyed, including. . .

--Marshall's glee over getting to see Nessie. I love that he's crazy about all things paranormal (even if Sasquatch frightens him).

--The whole scene where Barney discovered the painting of Marshall. That felt like the show at its best.

--"New dart." Say it fast, and you'll know what the joke was about.

--Robin's dismissal of Ted's creative impulse in bed (which struck me as fairly realistic).

--The strange voyage of Marshall's painting.

Even for a slump episode, this was pretty good, a sign of just how consistent this show has been this year. Here's hoping February sweeps kicks it up a notch again (November sweeps, after all, featured Swarley, Barney's gambling odyssey AND Slap Bet -- in three consecutive weeks!).

1 comment:

Brian said...

I think I'm discovering one of the problems with the second season. The format of the show last year centered on Ted's search for love, be it Robin, Victoria, or "guest female love interest" of the week. Ted's character was built around romanticism, hopeless/hopeful devotion, and determination (albeit often to a ridiculous or unrealistic point). Ted's friends served in a large way as obvious landmarks at each end of the spectrum (Barney as
single and free; Marshall/Lily as committed and harmonious), each unflailing in their position.

This season, with Ted in a relationship with Robin, his character not only needed to be
developed more, but needed to abandon the characteristic that defined him (and frankly, the
show, in so much as the title/story suggested a search for the children's mother). This
year, we've learned of Ted's past, his family, and his job. Relationship issues with Robin have been held to a minimum (which I believe is necessary if they plan to keep them together for awhile).

What I'm not sure about is if Ted's character, outside of his views/attitudes/behavior toward love and dating, is all that interesting or all that funny. Removed from those views and behaviors, Ted may not have all that much to offer, at least in terms of entertainment value. As the other main characters have become more developed, they have stayed true to the basis of their general concept on the show: Barney (lethario), Marshall (devoted and fun loving), Lily (sweet and finding herself), and Robin (hesitant and torn amongst career & relationship). They remain humormous and engaged, and their development has been Season 2's most valuable achievement. But is Ted destined to be a straight man, to the jokes and actions of the others?

Surely, issues with Robin will arise again, and Ted could be single for portions or the majority of Season 3 (optomistically hoping that the show is renewed). And despite the
title and basic concept, the show does not have to revolve entirely around Ted, and if the producers feel it wise can develop into a true ensenamble (much like "Seinfeld" did, ultimately resulting in Jerry's pals as the funnier, more engaging, and more complex characters). However, plotlines that revolve around Ted, particularly ones the seperate him
from the core group, may not reach that same level of humor, no matter how strong the guest
stars he's paired with. It would be a shame to see that happen, but is a natural occurance on many long-running sitcoms--for example, Marge-centric episodes of "The Simpsons" are notorious for being unable to reach the comedy bar established by Homer-centric or
Bart-centric episodes.

Any thoughts would be welcome; this is a show near and dear to my heart, and I still enjoy it greatly, but I do notice a change.-Brian G.