You don't want to know how Judge Patrick Bromley met your mother.
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.
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:
• "Cleaning House"
• "Subway Wars"
• "Architect of Destruction"
• "Baby Talk"
• "Canning Randy"
• "Natural History"
• "The Mermaid Theory"
• "False Positive"
• "Bad News"
• "Last Words"
• "Oh Honey"
• "Desperation Day"
• "A Change of Heart"
• "The Exploding Meatball Sub"
• "The Perfect Cocktail"
• "Challenge Accepted"
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.
Not guilty, but they need to start wrapping it up.
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