How I Hope They Save Your Mother
Does anyone remember the first few seasons of How I Met Your Mother? Does anyone remember the amazing plot twists, the genius storytelling, the appropriate and reasonable use of flashbacks?
Does anyone remember when Ted had a spine? Before he degenerated into self-loathing depression? When Barney was good for more than just comic relief? When the writers did more than just recycle old bits and plots?
I miss How I Met Your Mother. I have watched every episode this season and I MISS How I Met Your Mother. The HIMYM of old. Before the great and improbable apartment switches of 2012 happened, before the unnecessarily long proposal to Quinn who was written out of the show three episodes later, before Ted was awkwardly and randomly in love with Robin again. Before the show became a poster child for writer’s fatigue, cast disagreements, and renewing shows past their prime. If Seinfeld went out on top with a bang (or at least tried to as is highly debated now) HIMYM is shrinking into the distance with not so much as a whimper.
A show that was meant to raise questions and spark discussion because of its subtle hints and suggestive clues toward the ultimate of mysteries has a totally different set of question marks surrounding it now. Starting with “what is happening?” And appropriately finishing with “when is it ending?”
The way HIMYM is brought up to me is reminiscent of a plot trick the writers actually use a lot. When they have a character say the same line with two very different emphases thus making two very different points. Friends used to come up to me with an enthusiastic “did you see last night’s episode?!” whereas now I get a frustrated “did you see last night’s episode…”
Just the other night my friends and I had a lengthy discussion on how bad the last few seasons have been and I came away asking why? It’s the same characters, same setting, same ultimate goal, so what happened?
Obviously this is just my opinion, but here is where I think HIMYM has taken a wrong turn:
The Playbook was not that funny when it initially aired, it is even less funny now, stop bringing it back. I sighed relief when Barney and Robin finally got engaged because I thought we had seen the last of the tricks that Barney pulled to get less than intelligent women into bed. To bring it back again for another episode is just sad and did not do much to further anyone’s plot. Likewise, I thought Aldrin Justice was weak the first time it was used in an episode and its resurgence was less than gratifying. This show is based off of continuity and subtle things like Robin Sparkles ringtones or Marshall’s obsession with fish jokes are good to bring back, but when you start basing whole episodes off of them, those episodes drag. Which leads me to my next point…
Dragging Out Stories
The longest, most played out story on record involved Zoey, The Captain, and The Arcadian. Sounds like the name for a horrible folk band and the episodes involving them were not much better. It dragged and dragged onward and onward, the writers milked the story for all it was worth, or so I thought. Until The Captain reappeared suddenly and with him the reminder that for the better part of a season we were all obsessed with a razor thin plot line centered around the demolition of a building.
I thought the magic rule for any joke was the number three. Use a joke three times and after that it gets exhausting. Maybe I have been predisposed to that way of thinking, but when I heard Robin Sparkles was back for a fourth video I knew that it would have to be spectacular or it would flop and so the Rule Of Three prevailed again. The addition of some of Canada’s finest was a nice touch, but the song itself was far from good and far from funny. Was this the intention? To make Robin Sparkles deplorable? I guess it worked.
The Absurd Factor
For a show based off of the continuity of events, HIMYM used to dabble lightly in the absurd. Now I fear they have flung themselves head first into it. I don’t care how many tricks Barney pulls on naive women, the only person who could pull off a proposal stunt like that is Danny Ocean. Barney Stinson is no Danny Ocean. I know it happened a while ago, but I still cannot get over the numerous moves that the characters made. I do not even know who is living where anymore. What happened to Lily and Marshall’s house in the suburbs? What about Ted’s? Is it still out there unfinished? Where is Robin living now? Quinn did not want her apartment back after the engagement was off? These little annoying holes would not bother anyone in a normal sitcom, but unfortunately HIMYM staked its reputation on continuity and holes of this nature are very noticeable.
Chris Elliot was more annoying than funny on Everybody Loves Raymond and it has been the same way on HIMYM. He is not the only one either. The characters and special guests have gone downhill recently. Katy Perry was funny, Britney Spears might have revitalized her image, and John Lithgow was John Lithgow. However, they underutilized Kal Penn, Abby Elliot has left much to be desired, and where did Martin Short go? For that matter, where is Ranjit?
Whether it is coming back for another season or not, HIMYM can still save itself. Friends came on strong in its last, albeit shortened season. There is no reason that HIMYM cannot do the same as long as it shapes up. The writers need to come up with some new plot lines and tone down the continuity factor back to the subtly of old. I think that is the biggest problem. HIMYM seems determined to smack its viewers in the head with jokes now when it formerly excelled in discreet humor. Return to that and return to positive water cooler talk.