How I Met Your Mother: Season One

DVD Reviews | Dec 19th, 2006

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Starring Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris
Written By:
Directed By:
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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I’ve been watching television, like just about everyone from my generation, since I was able to turn it on. But never in my years of watching have I ever seen a character and really truly saw myself in him. People always ask which Seinfeld or Friends character I’d be, and I couldn’t really pick. It just wouldn’t fit me.

But then I watched How I Met Your Mother, CBS’ new sitcom done in the old-fashioned (it’s weird how the laugh-track is now old-fashioned) American network sitcom way. I watched the first episode and sat aghast, with my mouth open. No, it wasn’t necessarily that amazing; I only reserve that look for the awesomeness of Arrested Development and its kin (who are we kidding, just AD). No, it was just that the show’s main character is way more like me than any one character I’ve ever seen on television. I didn’t know whether I was excited or a little weirded out.

To elaborate, the show centres around Ted Mosby, a 20-something architect, going about life looking for his true love. But there’s more: future Ted, in the year 2030, is retelling to his children the story of….wait for it…. How I Met Your Mother. In the first episode we meet Ted (Josh Radnor), a kind-hearted but ultimately schlubish dude who, upon seeing his roommate and best friend Marshall (Freaks and Geeks’ Jason Segel) asking his girlfriend Lily (Buffy’s Alyson Hannigan) to marry him, feels that he is ready to find Mrs. Right. This is met with chagrin by his bar-hopping, womanizing, quick-witted buddy Barney (a scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris). So Ted meets Robin (Cobie Smulders), who in his eyes is Ms. Right. He goes on the most amazing date with her, and professes his love to her right away. Well, like any normal girl, she gets freaked out. But he still tries to get her. More than once. And fails. And at the end of the pilot, we realize that this is not the mother of his children; instead, she is determined to find him his perfect girl.

So the pilot basically sets up the sitcom cast as a bunch of guys and gals that hang out at amazingly large apartments and considerably woman-filled pubs in the heart of New York City. And even though on the outset, it is for the most part a generic sitcom, it is still a quite enjoyable and often hilarious show. Not brilliant in that most of what you see has been done before, but the fantastic casting more than saves it. Not to mention, for me, the fact that Ted is way too much like me that I cringed more than a few times. He is kind, personable and well-intentioned, but remarkably terrible with women. Unlike Barney, who is the master of the bad one-liners and catch-phrases (and I’ve taken to some of them, including legendary’ and suit up!’), Ted doesn’t want a casual thing. He wants a relationship. Robin makes it clear from the get-go that she isn’t interested in anything too heavy, and thus their sexual tension pretty much facilitates most of the season’s progress.

One of the best parts about the sitcom, besides Barney, is that it does try to take a couple of interesting steps. It plays around with time, involves more complicated plotlines (again, no Arrested Development, but more than, say, King of Queens), and gets decent depth in its characters for a first season. But its biggest strength is its whole narration-from-the-future thing. Bob Saget is the uncredited narrator, who insists that all of the stories he’s telling (aka the episodes’ in his life) are leading towards how he met the mother of his children. It maintains a slight mystery, since through the first season; Ted really seems intent on being with Robin. It makes the viewer think a little bit more than the average sitcom. And I like to think.

Its biggest setback is the fact that at times it really seems way too similar to Friends. The whole middle-class twenty-somethings living in NYC, the pub instead of the coffeeshop, and of course you can’t help notice the Ross-and-Rachelishness of the Ted and Robin story. Marshall and Lily are not only the rock-solid Chandler-Monica couple, but they act quite a bit like the Friends characters. And Barney is a less food-oriented and generally funnier Joey. No Phoebe, but she was the weakest link anyway. Plus, I find shows with neverending will-they/won’t they’ plotlines obnoxious. I feel like you can either have characters together permanently, or find more concrete and realistic ways of dealing with it (see this season of The Office).

So overall, it’s a pretty solid show, and worth seeing, especially since there are few decent comedies left – and absolutely no others that use the laugh track. If you’re a neurotic and awkward hopeless romantic like me, you’ll definitely feel for Ted. I caught up a bit on the second season, and it is in fact even funnier. If there had to be a generic sitcom that makes it into syndication, I think How I Met Your Mother would be a more than okay early evening treat.

PS: Extra tidbit of awesomeness: On top of having Jason Segel from Freaks and Geeks as a cast member, both Martin Starr (Bill on F & G) and Samm Levine (Neal) make guest appearances.

6 audio commentaries with cast and producers
First Round and Last Call – clip montages
Video yearbook – making of and discussion of the show’s incarnation
Blooper reel

5.1 surround

colour, full frame

English, French, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: Pilot, Return of the Shirt, Okay Awesome, The Duel, The Pineapple Incident, Life Among the Gorillas
Rating: NR
Running Time: 482 minutes
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