Monday, November 26, 2007

How I Met Your Mother

Okay, here goes - I recently watched Seasons 1 and 2, and here's my take - there's a bunch of good things about, and some not so good things, so I'll kind of start and work my way from there...

First thing, I hate the gimmick. (For those who don't yet know, the premise is that the main character Ted Moseby, is telling the story from 25 years in the future to his kids, about how he met his wife (their mother) and the zany adventures on the way). It's a stupid gimmick and any impact it has on the show is negative - in the first few episodes, though less so later on, the beginning and or end contain Ted's future kids sitting on the couch and making dumb comments, about how boring their dad's story is, and during the show Bob Sagat (future Ted's voice (not sure why he would sound all that different in the future)) makes occasionally unhelpful and unfunny comments about what will happen in the future (for example, at Marshall's law school party, two kids are making fools of themselves, and future ted comments that one is a Supreme Court Justice, and one is Attorney General, or something like that - maybe a good effort, but incredibly unfunny and unnecessary. In addition, this puts a pointless onus on the comedy show to have to work around eventually finding his mother and doesn't even allow us to think that pretty much any girl he meets will eventually be the mother, otherwise, the tenor of the show would have to change.

Second, and if you actually like the show, hold on, and eventually I will say some nice things about it, but I hate the narration and the moralizing tone - this is not a problem only with this show, it happens all the time, but this is the show I'm reviewing - the narration is constantly used to teach the audience little life lessons - which I can't stand - I'm watching a sitcom, to laugh, to be amused, and fine, I have even no problem with things that are heartwarming, but I certainly am not watching to learn little tips and hints about life from TV characters. Aside from the moralizing, the narration is just unfunny - filled with times when future Ted tries to give his kids quirky explanations about life. One example of this is a first season episode where future Ted repeats over and over ad nauseum that nothing good happens after 2 AM, which aside from being kind of stupid, just doesn't work. Another time, in a second season episode, on their way to Marshall's bachelor party, future Ted attempts to point out that there are certain types of people at every bachelor party - unlike the strict moralizing it's not as if this could never be funny - it's just not.

Even if they wanted to tell moral lessons, which I disapprove of anyway, narration is the lazy man's way of doing it - the show should display it with the actions of the characters and the story - the narration shouldn't be necessary to impart it.

This all said, it's a cute, traditional sitcom - it has funny parts, and most of all it has Barney, Neil Patrick Harris, who single-handedly makes the show watchable, and dare I saw, sometimes enjoyable - he is a quintessential "TV" character - but a good one - and his many catch phrases (various incarnations of high fives, legendary) and memorable quotes could easily become worth parts of the lexicon. I know that I've said a lot more bad about it than good, and that it sounds like I should hate it, but it's really just the bad things to me are so obviously, and really jump out, and could easily be changed to improve it. Really, overall - it's as a I said, a "cute" show - it doesn't try to be anything huge, and it's not - the characters are likable, the actors display good chemistry, and forgetting the narration - many of the jokes do work - for example, a second season episode features a slap bet between Marshall and Barney, in which the winner gets to slap the loser, with varying penalties for premature slapping (watch it if this entirely unclear) and Robin's music video from her brief time as a Canadian teen pop singer - both segments which are hilarious.

It's far from my favorite comedy, but it's good enough for me to watch, which honestly is saying something in and of itself. There are parts that are really funny and fun to watch - if they had just created this with some of the parameters of "new sitcoms" (Arrested Development, Office, among others) such as lack of laugh track, lack of moralizing, it would be just as funny and probably gain a quick point and a half on my scale.

How I Met Your Mother, Seasons 1/2 - 6.3

1 comment:

JD said...

Good points. I'm not as bothered by the things you point out as you are, in fact I like the setup with occasional commentary from future Ted. The show, for me, is awesome because of how it balances realistic drama and characterization with hilarious memorable moments. I have a blog dedicated to discussion of the show that you could check out if you want to see a great community of fans. Nice recap!