Kids, Judge Ryan Keefer met your mother in a 1990's Nestea commercial. You know the guy falling into the pool? That's me. Your mother toweled me off. Yeah she did.
Our reviews of How I Met Your Mother: Season One (published January 3rd, 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.
Marshall to Barney: "Okay so you have to have sex with one. Either
classic mermaid: bottom half fish, top half human or inverted mermaid: top half
fish, bottom half human. Go."
The sophomore season of How I Met Your Mother is driven by smart, witty jokes and dialogue that sustains itself with Judd Apatow-like writing and Seinfeld-esque timing.
Facts of the Case
So Mrs. Keefer liked assuming the judges' robes so much that she's back for a return engagement. By all means, the floor is now hers for fun, action, adventure, and please, PLEASE some romance?
It's hard to like a show that upon initial glance looks like nothing more than yet another sitcom that has gone down the tired avenue of focusing on friends in (insert big name city of choice). It's almost as if HIMYM has an automatic strike against it because we as connoisseurs of television won't be fooled by something that appears to be a brand name but instead is a big chain store knock-off. Are you listening Target? I know that shampoo that looks like my Pantene isn't really Pantene. Stop playing.
But now there's a new brand name in the house, and it's on CBS.
Okay, so it's not new (the third season is currently airing), but it's new to me, because I was one of those people that believed this show to be a cheap imitation of Friends, but now I've been saved. I've let the light of How I Met Your Mother bathe me in beautiful, embarrassing and hilarious moments for these twenty-something New York residents that happen to be friends. Here's the skinny:
Narrated by Bob Saget (Full House) as older Ted (Josh Radnor, Not Another Teen Movie), the show covers his sit downs with his children as he enlightens them as to how he met their mother, hence the title. It's told in a series of flashbacks which often involve Ted's friends who include Ted's best friend, Marshall (Jason Segel, Knocked Up), Marshall's on and off again girlfriend/fiancée, Lily (Alyson Hannigan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Robin (Cobie Smulders, Walking Tall), Ted's ultimate desire and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, Undercover Brother), the supercilious friend with a fondness for women, high-fives and doubling-down.
Not having seen the first season, I think I've picked up the storyline quite easily—yet another testament to its ability to amass viewers. In this second season, we have Ted finally together with Robin, but how long will that last? Marshall and Lily get back together after Lily cancels their wedding and breaks Marshall's goofy heart. And as for Barney, no words can describe…psych, yes they can. Barney thinks he's a god. Can I get a high-five?
So in between those overarching, splendiferous storylines, events happen that cause concern, delight, embarrassment, and other emotions which question their chosen paths in life while entertaining the viewer. I'd say 95 percent actually entertains, while five percent makes them question their chosen path. Quite the right balance.
Episodes you shouldn't skip include all of 22 of them. But let me go through the highlights of this three-disc set and maybe I'll tell you about the extras.
In "Ted Mosby, Architect," Barney has created a pre-printed ghost letter to leave with the women he's recently slept with. What's a ghost letter you ask? Something hilarious. Also notable in this episode is the phallic-shaped building Ted's a-hole boss (Brian Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle) has designed. Check out an Easter egg on the first disc to see the actual design of said building. Neil Patrick Harris as Barney is a rock star here—who knew he was so talented? After all, how much can playing a 14-year-old doctor in 1989 predict good comedic timing 16 years later? I thought it might have been weird to see him playing a heterosexual male considering he's officially come out to the world, but it really wasn't
In "Swarley," Barney gets his name misspelled on his coffee-to-go cup and will henceforth be named Swarley. This idea is noteworthy for the possibility of trying this in real life with one of your friends/non-friends. This episode also features Alyson Hannigan's physical comedy as she is identified as a male hunchback midget with a limp, reminiscent of Seinfeld when Kramer's pants are too tight as he walks down the street like Frankenstein.
"Slap-Bet," according the commentary with show creator Craig Thomas, is based on something his creative partner, Carter Bays did in high school. In this episode, Robin has a secret having to do with her distaste for malls. Barney bets she did Canadian porn, while Marshall bet she was married. Slaps ensue and Robin's secret is found out—she has another name—Robin Sparkles.
A quickie (pun intended) in "First Time in New York" has Barney describing his "first time," which was in a resort in the Catskills with Frances Houseman. Apparently she was often put in a corner. Wait a second…that was Dirty Dancing.
In "Lucky Penny," Barney runs in the New York City Marathon in Marshall's stead. That same day, Barney decides to use the Subway (free for all runners), and having never run a marathon before, can't get up because his legs don't work, so he rides the Subway from end to end. Funniest line, "I've seen where the Subway turns around. Ted, you don't ever want to see where it turns around."
As far as extras go, you've got an episode commentary on "Where Were We," with show creators Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Director Pam Fryman. On "Swarley," there's a commentary with writer/producer Greg Malins and Alyson Hannigan. Neither of these commentaries on disc one really offered anything more than nice compliments for one another.
Disc two has a commentary on "Slap-Bet" with creator Craig Thomas, writer Kourtney Kang, and Cobie Smulders. "Single Stamina" has a commentary with writer Kristen Newman and Neil Patrick Harris. The funniest things that came from these are the replay of the line from "Slap-Bet" when Robin says that "the 80's didn't come to Canada until 1993" and the Popozao/Kevin Federline reference that Neil Patrick Harris used to crack his brother's (guest star Wayne Brady, 30 Rock) character in "Single Stamina." Also on disc two is the complete Robin Sparkles video, "Let's Go to the Mall."
Disc three has an episode commentary on "Arrivaderci, Fiero" with writer Chris Harris and Jason Segel, a commentary on "Bachelor Party" with Carter Bays, Bob Saget and Josh Radnor, and a commentary on "Showdown" with Bays, Thomas and Pam Fryman. If you only listen to one commentary, listen to the one with Danny Tanner, who is definitely more tame here than during his stand-up. Quick provides a quick fact: Hannigan was Bob Saget's babysitter back when she was 14 or 15. This disc also holds the gag reel, which is really just average for the show. I guess this is just evidence that the humor really is in the writing. There is also a featurette called "How We Make Your Mother" that covers the writing process from read-through to shooting but was wholly uninteresting.
Finally, the last section of disc three includes three additional scenes and a video for "Hey Beautiful," a song by The Solids, the same band who did the intro to HIMYM. The video is actually quite disturbing. As for the video and audio quality on the set overall, it's a sitcom on CBS so it's not perfect, but if you're interested in this DVD set, you're probably here for the comedy, not the picture.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Four minor things: I realize this is a show that deals in flashbacks, but to have multiple flashbacks within many of the episodes feels a bit superfluous. Just tell the story already.
The pairings of the participants in the commentary tracks are a bit odd; instead, group people who work together on a regular basis, not one writer and one actor.
This show is not as smart as Arrested Development, which it clearly knows, but maybe HIMYM could aspire to be a little heavier on the continuity-use—why not bring back Barney's nickname, Swarley, for a return appearance later on in the season?
Lastly, do voices change much between 25 and 40 years old? It'd be more effective if Ted was a consistent voice throughout the show. I'm sure they've talked about that one at length (it's mentioned briefly in the commentary on "Bachelor Party"), but I think it was a mistake using a different voice for the future Ted.
Despite my comments about the show's minor issues, How I Met Your Mother is a promising sitcom still in the beginning of its existence. Go forth and prosper.
Not guilty. I like it.
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Scales of Justice
• Selected Episode Commentaries
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