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Case Number 22446: Small Claims Court

Buy How I Met Your Mother: Season Six at Amazon

How I Met Your Mother: Season Six

Fox // 2010 // 558 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Bromley // October 5th, 2011

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All Rise...

You don't want to know how Judge Patrick Bromley met your mother.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of How I Met Your Mother: Season One (published January 3rd, 2007), How I Met Your Mother: Season Two (published November 7th, 2007), How I Met Your Mother: Season Three (published October 29th, 2008), How I Met Your Mother: Season Four (Blu-Ray) (published October 7th, 2009), How I Met Your Mother: Season Five (published October 14th, 2010), and How I Met Your Mother: Season Seven (published October 13th, 2012) are also available.

The Charge

Challenge accepted.

The Case

I'm a fan of How I Met Your Mother. Have been since its first season. In the post-Friends sitcom genre of shows about white people who spend a ridiculous amount of time together, mostly talking about their own love lives, it's one of the very best. The ensemble is aces, the writing is fast and funny and the show can be incredibly ambitious for a half-hour sitcom, jumping around in time and playing with structure in a way that's almost revolutionary for the format. Long after the show has aired its final episode, that's the contribution to the format that is going to stick in our memories.

Having said that, I think that the show is beginning to wear out its welcome—an undeniable fact that becomes quite apparent watching How I Met Your Mother: Season Six. The problem is in the premise: when the show is established as a mystery that's going to be solved (which is essentially what HIMYM is), there needs to be some sort of endgame in sight. It's actually the same problem confronted by the writers of Lost; once the series became a hit, it became this open-ended thing, drawn out beyond the logical point because it makes money for a network. HIMYM might have been better suited following the British model of TV, with just a few seasons (sorry, "series") planned out ahead of time to tell a kind of closed story. The longer the show goes, the more dragged out it begins to feel and the more the impact of the final revelation is diminished. When we finally get to the end and have our questions answered, the feeling will be one of only relief instead of joy and excitement.

Here are the episodes that make up How I Met Your Mother: Season Six, spread across three discs:

Disc One
• "Big Days"
Ted (Josh Radnor, Happythankyoumoreplease) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, The Smurfs) argue over a girl; Marshall (Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) gets in trouble with Lily (Allyson Hannigan, Date Movie) when he talks too openly with his father about wanting a family.

• "Cleaning House"
Everyone learns more than they expected about Barney while helping his mom move; Robin (Colbie Smulders, The Slammin' Salmon) oversells Ted to a blind date.

• "Unfinished"
Barney tries to trick Ted into taking a job; Robin is depressed following a break-up.

• "Subway Wars"
The gang competes to see who is the "real" New Yorker.

• "Architect of Destruction"
Ted makes enemies with a girl (Jennifer Morrison, Stir of Echoes) seeking to block the construction of his new building.

• "Baby Talk"
Marshall and Lily move closer to starting a family.

• "Canning Randy"
Marshall has a moral dilemma at work; Zoey turns Ted's students against him.

• "Natural History"
Ted meets Zoey's wealthy husband, nicknamed The Captain (and played by Kyle Maclachlan of Dune).

Disc Two
• "Glitter"
More is discovered about Robin's days as a Canadian pop star, including her old best friend, Jessica Glitter (Nicole Sherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls), with whom she had a falling out.

• "Blitzgiving"
The group celebrates Thanksgiving with an old friend, Blitz (Jorge Garcia of Lost), a guy with famously bad luck.

• "The Mermaid Theory"
Ted hangs out with Zoey and The Captain to prove that he and Zoe can be just friends; Robin and Marshall try hanging out together.

• "False Positive"
Everyone decides to make big changes in their lives after learning that Lily is expecting.

• "Bad News"
Marshall and Lily see a specialist to help get pregnant; Marshall suffers a loss in the family.

• "Last Words"
Everyone heads to Minnesota to console a grieving Marshall; Barney makes a decision to find his real father.

• "Oh Honey"
Zoe sets Ted up with her cousin Honey (pop star Katy Perry), but it's Barney that hits it off with her; Ted confesses his feelings for Zoey.

• "Desperation Day"
Everyone scrambles to make last minute plans for Valentine's Day.

Disc Three
• "Garbage Island"
Marshall turns his focus on the environment and vows to make changes in his life.

• "A Change of Heart"
Barney is shocked to learn he has actual feelings for his new girlfriend Nora (Nazanin Boniadi, Iron Man); the gang points out that Robin's new boyfriend acts like a dog.

• "Legendaddy"
Barney finally meets his real father (John Lithgow, Cliffhanger).

• "The Exploding Meatball Sub"
Marshall finally pulls the trigger on a decision involving work; Ted and Zoey continue to clash over the new GNB building.

• "Hopeless"
Trying to compete with his father's crazy days, Barney asks the group to exaggerate stories about their experiences.

• "The Perfect Cocktail"
Lily and Robin conspire to get Marshall and Barney to stop fighting; Ted and Zoey plan a trip together.

• "Landmarks"
Everyone opens up about their feelings towards Zoey.

• "Challenge Accepted"
Ted runs into Zoey, leading the gang to debate their future; Marshall stresses about an important interview; Barney reconnects with Nora.

My criticisms of the show may sound harsh, I know, especially coming from someone who claims to be a fan. But I defy anyone to watch Season Six and tell me the series is doing anything but treading water at this point. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Ted/Zoey storyline. We've sat through far too many of the "wrong girl" stories at this point to even pretend to care; we can never allow ourselves to get too attached, because there's always the expectation that we're being messed with and that this new character will not, in fact, be "the mother." Zoey is rather unpleasant as a character, too, which is by design—she exists seemingly to frustrate everyone. It works. What's worse, Ted doesn't really learn anything from the relationship that he hasn't already learned on the show over and over again, so the story doesn't really get him any closer (emotionally speaking) to the mother than he was already. Same goes for Barney, who gets another chance to wonder if he's got the stuff to be in a real relationship (just like we already saw when he dated Robin, one of the earliest indications that the show was running low on ideas). Only Marshall experiences real change this season, though even he spends a lot of time hemming and hawing about selling out versus following his dreams—something we've watched him do since around the second season.

So while Season Six doesn't move the characters or the story forward enough to be totally satisfying, there's still a lot of good stuff going on. The cast only gets looser and funnier with each season, and HIMYM has an impressive ability to keep jokes running that date back several years—it's very good at constructing its own mythology and always assuming the audience can keep up. While the stunt casting is distracting and rarely pays off (the writers work around Katy Perry much more successfully than Nicole Sherzinger—which reminds me, I wish the series would stop trying to go back to Robin's pop star days as it's never been nearly as funny as it was the first time; at this point, it just feels cynical and desperate), the addition of John Lithgow is a welcome one and lends the "Barney meets his dad" story more emotional weight than I would have expected. Though there aren't as many memorable or classic episodes as there are in past seasons, a few—like "Subway Wars," "Blitzgiving" and "Hopeless"—certainly stand out.

All 24 episodes of How I Met Your Mother: Season Six are presented in their 1.78:1 broadcast aspect ratio, enhanced for widescreen playback. When you're as deep into a series as we are with HIMYM, there aren't really any surprises as far as DVD releases go. The shows look good, with bold, stable colors and only rare instances of visible compression. The 5.1 audio track is more than capable of handling the dialogue that drives the series. From a technical standpoint, fans should know exactly what to expect here.

There's a pretty good offering of supplemental material offered, beginning with some assorted commentary tracks spread out throughout the season from various cast and crew members. Series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas discuss "Big Days," while Bays is joined by star Radnor for "Natural History." Jason Segel and Allyson Hannigan speak over "Bad News," and guest star John Lithgow teams up wtih Neil Patrick Harris for a commentary on "Legendaddy." There are behind-the-scenes featurettes for "Subway Wars" and "Glitter," as well as a featurette called "What We Know About Your Mother," which covers the new information we pick up during Season Six. Each disc also features a short collection of deleted scenes, while Disc Three also contains a gag reel and an extended performance of "Stand By Me." None of the bonus content is a must-have, but the commentaries are enjoyable (nice that so many different voices are represented, even if they are mostly the actors—I suspect that's who most people want to hear from anyway) and the gag reel amusing. Fans of the show should be able to find plenty to enjoy.

How I Met Your Mother isn't as good as it was in its prime—around Seasons Two and Three—and I'm not sure it's ever going to get back to that place. Season Six is a good indicator that the show needs to start winding down if it's going to protect its legacy. I enjoyed myself watching it and the series has built up enough well deserved good will to sustain itself even through a rough patch, but my overall feeling during the season was one of impatience. That's not how I want to watch a comedy show. Especially one I like.

The Verdict

Not guilty, but they need to start wrapping it up.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 558 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Episode Commentaries
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Gag Reel

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site








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