The tale of Judge Brett Cullum met his mother is nothing at all like a sitcom.
Our reviews of 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), How I Met Your Mother: Season Six (published October 5th, 2011), and How I Met Your Mother: Season Seven (published October 13th, 2012) are also available.
Barney (to a random woman in a bar): Have you met Ted? (shoves Ted in her direction while leaving)
Familiar yet quirky, How I Met Your Mother is a huggable breakout sitcom hit for CBS. It's a show that resurrects the careers of Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan who both provide memorable characters backed up with natural comic timing. Romantic comedy was never this likable, as we watch the story of a great coupling with a narrator from the future telling his kids how he met his spouse. This likable series makes for a sweet compilation to add to your DVD collection, but there's a technical hitch that might make fans concerned they're only seeing part of the picture with the release of How I Met Your Mother: Season One.
Facts of the Case
Five friends live, laugh, and love in New York City. They're young, neurotic, and rent impossibly huge apartments for not being affluent trust fund babies or lottery winners. They hang out in a common place, a bar where they all kvetch about their misadventures. How I Met Your Mother sounds like a direct descendent of Friends. Homage or rip-off? You decide. Yet there are elements that differentiate this series to make it charming.
Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor, Not Another Teen Movie) feels romantically challenged as he watches his best friend / roommate (Jason Segel, Slackers) enthusiastically pursue his fiancée (Alyson Hannigan, Date Movie). If only he could find the perfect woman. His eternally single pal Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) doesn't help as he seems to always try to turn Ted into a "suited up" player. In walks Robin (Cobie Smulders, The L Word), who appears to be the girl who Ted will end up marrying. And yet according to the voice of Bob Saget (Madagascar) playing Ted from the future (the show's framing device has Ted telling his kids the story), this isn't "the one."
The first thing you're gonna love about How I Met Your Mother is the cast. They are an easy group to like, and the show's greatest strength. You have television veterans such as Alyson Hannigan (the iconic Willow from Buffy), Neil Patrick Harris (the fondly remembered teen doctor from Doogie Howser), and the voice of Full House star and comedian Bob Saget. Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, and Jason Segel have certainly guested on enough shows that they should feel like veterans though this is their first series to carry. As an ensemble the cast performs with a natural ease and chemistry many actors don't get until well into a second season, if ever. Harris and Hannigan prove to be the best comedic weapons who can pull off physical or verbal humor deftly, but the rest of the fresh faces hold their own by being lovable. This is a great sitcom cast.
Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas (a team who helped produce American Dad and Oliver Beene) allow the show to be simple fun with flashes of inspired darker wit that pops up occasionally. It's a palatable comedy that resembles televised comfort food with a small dash of spice, a silly parable that is improbable yet wholly entertaining, like when garlic mashed potatoes show up on the dinner table. Bays and Thomas also provide the show's opening theme song "Hey Beautiful" because they are members of The Solids, the rock band responsible for the tune.
How I Met Your Mother: Season One collects all 22 episodes and presents them in broadcast order. The packaging is slim, and it saves a lot of shelf space. There are six lively commentaries where the cast and creators appear in differing configurations to stroll down memory lane of last year. There are outtakes and bloopers as well as nice montages of funny moments. The extras are well thought out, and provide a ton of added value for fans of the show. It's a great package for DVD, all except for one notable exception in the technical department.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
These days, many television shows are broadcast in two distinct presentations: a regular traditional fullscreen low definition airing for people with conventional TVs, and a high definition widescreen option for viewers with wider, higher resolution sets. DVD is a format favored by those with higher expectations and more aggressive technology, and yet How I Met Your Mother: Season One comes cropped with a soft full frame transfer. Whoops! Purists are going to cry foul, and widescreen aficionados will whip out poison pens to Fox for allowing this to happen. It's not a bad transfer, but it lacks the full scope of how the show was shot.
How I Met Your Mother turns out to be a pleasantly solid sitcom with a strong cast running through formulaic plots about falling in love at a young age in NYC. The real genius is catching Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris in roles that break them out of the starring vehicles we've always associated them with—respectively Willow and that adolescent Dr. Howser. The DVD set How I Met Your Mother: Season One is more of a mixed bag than the show. While we get a respectful amount of commentaries and extras, the picture is cropped and not the high definition widescreen HDTV viewers enjoy. Hopefully Fox will correct this error in time for the second season offering, but what a shame to do this to the fans who want to see the whole picture.
Fox is guilty of showing us only part of the CBS hit sitcom. Executives are going to be forced to hang out with Barney while he introduces them to random strangers who hold a grudge.
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