Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Could he meet her already!

Imagine if in episode two of "Friends," you learned that Ross and Rachel would never get together--in fact, they would never even date. Oh, and imagine that after that second "Friends" episode, the show stopped being funny. Then you'd have CBS' "How I Met Your Mother." The show is getting decent ratings and basically holding its "King of Queens" lead-in, so it's likely, if it keeps it up, to get a second season--it has already been picked up for a full 22-episode season earlier this fall. But the "surprise ending" in the show's premiere has basically ruined the program.

The concept of this old-fashioned sitcom is that Ted, 20 years in the future, is telling his children how he met their mother by recounting stories from the past. In the present day, Ted (played by a guy who looks a lot like Jimmy Fallon but is less manic) lives in the same apartment with newly engaged couple Allyson Hannigan (is she best known for being Willow in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or the band camp girl in "American Pie"?) and Jason Segal (the guy in"Freaks and Geeks" who dated Lindsay and had a huge drum set). And Doogie Howser (Neil Patrick Harris) plays Ted's "always scamming on the ladies" friend. So in the premiere Ted meets Robin (the very attractive Cobie Smulders, who I've never heard of before), but messes it all up by telling her he thinks he's falling in love with her just a few hours after they met. And the kicker is that when Ted (played in the future by the voice of Bob Saget--no, this isn't one of those scary shows that are so popular this year) finishes recounting this story to his kids, he says, "And that's how I met your Aunt Robin." (By the way, Ted refers to all of his friends on the show as aunt and uncle to his kids, so that doesn't mean Ted is going to marry Robin's sister.)

So it was an audacious beginning, but what did it mean for the show? A disaster. After an episode where Ted continued to pursue Robin, they decided they weren't meant for each other. And so for some reason, the writers have basically separated the two--with Ted and Doogie teaming up in one story line, often an unsuccessful attempt to find women, and Robin playing third wheel to the engaged couple. In the last four or five episodes, Robin has really only had her own storyline once, and that was all about Hannigan and Segal trying to help her learn how to be part of a couple with a new boyfriend but Robin realizing that she wasn't ready for that.

So you have the romantic center of the show destroyed before it ever gets started, an appealing, attractive actress with nothing to do, and Ted not even dating other women in the show but doing things like waiting out all night for some girl he met at a Halloween party four years ago. (Sure, everybody loved the "Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" show, but do we really need a non-cartoon version?)

And then there's the stupid behavior by Ted. Like the episode a few weeks ago where he resumes dating a woman he had broken up with on her birthday a few years before--which he had always felt bad about. So after a few weeks, he decides she's not "the one" and decides to break it off that night at dinner. Then she reminds him it's her birthday. He breaks up with her that night anyway. What? Aren't we supposed to like this guy? Is he that self-centered and stupid?

Well, maybe, because in Monday's episode, Ted goes to a computer matchmaker, who is unable to find a match for him. When he realizes that the only compatible person for him in the matchmaker's computer is a dermatologist that was set up succesfully six months earlier, he decides to check her out and see what her current status is. So he makes an appointment to see the doctor and tells her he needs a mole on his back examined. This part was all fine, since plenty of guys might pull a scam like this. Anyway, he flirts with the doctor, they hit it off, he asks her out, and she tells him she's getting married this weekend. Oh well, Ted goes home dejected, but perks up when he gets a phone message from the doctor telling him she needs to talk to him at the office. Of course, anyone who has ever watched television knows the doctor is calling because there's something wrong with his mole--but Ted apparently doesn't watch TV, he thinks she's calling because she wants to date him and...well, you can figure out the rest and she's not the mother of the show's title. And if we don't meet her soon, I just might have to stop watching.


Anonymous John said...

I hate to turn this to your amen corner, but this is dead-on as always. The show is painless and all, but yeah, it's sort of lame and feels dead in the water already.

11/9/05, 1:58 PM  
Anonymous John said...

This is more of a general comment:

More posts, please!

11/14/05, 9:31 AM  
Anonymous John said...

I realize that you haven't updated this, but the show continued its losing ways last night. If anything, Ted was even a bigger jerk than usual and the show was virtually laugh-free.

I was sick and in bed, so after HIMYM (the show isn't worthy of an acronym, but what can you do) I watched Two and a Half Men for the first time. And darn it, it was kind of funny. Unlike Mother, it made me laugh a few times and unlike Mother, the show seems confident, like it knows what it's doing.

11/15/05, 9:40 AM  

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