Fox // 2008 // 528 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 7th, 2009
"Barney Stinson is awesome."
As far as mid-level, half-hour, laugh-track powered sitcoms go, How I Met Your Mother is right at the top of the pack. Season Four keeps the laughs consistently rolling in and you can't ask much more than that.
As you may or may not know, How I Met Your Mother bills itself as a "love story in reverse." In year 2030, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is telling his children the story of how he found the love of his life, while the antics of the week transpire in our current time.
Season Four draws Ted ever closer to his future wife, but there's plenty of goofball NYC grist to grind for these 24 episodes, including the fate of Ted's season premiere engagement, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) and Robin's (Cobie Smulders) ever-evolving and bizarre relationship, the disturbing and violent fighting history of Marshall (Jason Segel, I Love You Man), Lily's (Alyson Hannigan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) failure to keep a secret, the nuances of "roommates with benefits," the allure of "The Naked Man" and what it is exactly that's so awesome about Laser Tag.
Funny show. It's not perfect, but when judged against the comedy wasteland current network TV has bestowed upon the viewing public, How I Met Your Mother has been an oasis. There is much familiar about the show, and it's obvious Seinfeld was a major inspiration to its plotting (there's a lot of social rulemaking and "have you ever noticed this" kind of humor), but that doesn't mean I laugh any less. As the seasons have marched on, we've seen some really over-the-top storylines (no doubt connected to the creators' assertion that older Ted is an unreliable narrator). Season Four runs with those crazy sequences even more, producing some of the funniest moments -- Barney's Laser Tag shenanigans, Robin's tenure as an anchor on a Japanese news program, and my favorite moment of the whole season: Marshall's flashback to the Fight Club-like "rough-housing" he and his older brothers used to engage in back home.
As for the overall story arcs, big stuff happens this year and a large clue is dropped as to the identity of Ted's wife. Much of the relationship-related plotlines revolve around Ted's early season engagement (which comes back later in the season), Barney's pining for Robin, and her ultimate reaction to his eventual proposition. These themes are currently being explored more in Season Five, but the twists that transpire in Season Four are welcome and compelling.
Finally, a shout out to the cast, one of the stronger ensembles in the half-hour realm. It all starts with Neil Patrick Harris, who was completely robbed of an Emmy win this year. His caddish Barney is one of the funniest characters on television and NPH consistently dominates every scene he's in. Close behind is Jason Segel, the master of the soft-spoken one-liner delivery. Where Barney tends to turn it up to 11 with his portrayal, Segel's characterization is a lot more subtle, but just as funny. Hannigan, Smulders, and Radnor are all good as well, but really, this is Harris and Segel's show.
This is a gorgeous Blu-ray presentation. The 1.78:1 widescreen is near-flawless -- sharp and solid on the colors and detailing, and comparable to the broadcast HD. Wait until you get a look at Barney's video resume in high-def. It's awesome. Audio comes courtesy of a clean, but as-active-as-you'd-expect-for-a-sitcom DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix. Only a few extras: cast and crew commentaries on select episodes, a gag reel, a Season Three recap, a visually low-quality cast panel discussion, and the full Barney video resume.
I don't understand the delay of this release. Why not ship this out before the Season Five premiere?
One of the funnier half-hours on TV scores a beautiful high-def makeover. The soft selection of extras aren't game-breakers.
Not...wait for it...Guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 528 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Panel Discussion
* Gag Reel
* Music Video