Monday, February 28, 2011
How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother; Comedy series, USA, 2005-2014; D: Pamela Fryman, S: Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Bob Saget (voice), Sarah Chalke
In 2030, the middle aged Ted Mosby tells his two kids how he met their mother: in 2005, he was 27 and lived in New York as an architect. His best friends were Marshall, Lily, Robin and womanizing Barney. They went through numerous misadventures, especially when he had a relationship with Robin, but then they both agreed they should just be friends. With years, he lost his job and started working as a teacher.
The best comedy of the 2000s wasn't a movie...it was a TV show, "How I Met You Mother", which is as engaging and appealing as much as its title is uninteresting. Writers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas delivered such marvelous scripts for episodes that it was almost impossible to ruin them - even if they were directed in the most conventional way, they would still be good because such fresh ideas just cried to be put on screen. Cleverly setting our present time as a "retrospect" framed by the story told by the future Ted in 2030, the writers and director Pamela Fryman created a fun, inspiring, easily accessible and stylistically perfect little story that was enriched with numerous inventive jokes, intelligent observations and a playful mood centering around human relationships. For example, episode "Swarley" is brilliant among others because of a great romantic detail where waitress Chloe draws a heart sign on Marshall's cup in the coffee shop, seizing his attention. "Spoiler Alert" has the ingenious concept that you can lose respect for your idol when someone "spoils" you his/her flaw, as it was when Ted was completely charmed by his "perfect" girlfriend Cathy until Marshall revealed her flaw - "Cathy...talks...too much" - which suddenly becomes unbearably annoying for him. The made up "Let's Go to the Mall" music video is a blast.
"The Bracket" has a very humorous concept of an unknown woman sabotaging Barney's dates by constantly telling the women incredibly negative remarks about him, whereas Robin also has a wonderful little moment when she pretends to be his date in order to capture the perpetrator - some guy approaches her at the bar, so she goes: "Beat it..! But come back later!" "The Naked Man", where Ted and Barney decide to try out a man's ploy of stripping naked at a date in order to "charm" women to have sex with them, is an instant classic, a pure example of simple comedy gold. Plus, slap bet is the best running gag of the decade. However, "How I Met..." also has some surprising words of wisdom - in "Arrivederci, Fiero", the future Ted goes: "Life sometimes forces us to be someone we didn't want to be. When that happens we often try to hold on to a little piece of who we were" - which is one of the most poignant observations ever to be found in a sitcom. Naturally, as with many other shows, from season 5 onwards the series started to lose its power and dropped in creativity, whereas it really takes too long for the sole moment when Ted finally meets his wife. By the time his future wife appears, in the last few episodes of the last season 9, the audience already had more emotional investment towards any previous supporting character, established ages ago, than her. This 'undue weight' damages the show. Though, as a whole, it is still in very positive field. Rarely do you get a chance to see a series that immediately gives five lifetime performances to its five main actors, including a sixth by Bob Saget (who never shows up but just acts as a narrator!): all of them are great, but Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris arguably stand out the most. Despite a quality erosion in the last seasons, "How I Met..." surprised by showing that special charm, spirit and wit that was thought to be extinct a long time ago.