charmingly misguided TV sitcom writers seem to have four general rules:
twenty-somethings, regardless of financial obligation and career path, must
live in Manhattan, in cool apartments with HUGE bathrooms.
Manhattan-dwelling twenty-somethings are magically blessed with lots of free
time, despite claiming they have jobs that would normally tie up its victims
for about sixty hours per week.
Three: all main male and female characters must do a clumsy, tedious mating
dance, even though viewers know and not necessarily care that they will
eventually get together. As well, the other cast members (playing
concerned, caring friends), ride every movement of this mating dance, and
live and breathe by its outcome. Footnote to this rule: be sure to shoe-horn
in a sappy yet hard-rockin' ballad as the romantic leads gaze longingly at
each other. It's sexual tension as generated by an AA battery.
New Yorker twenty-somethings NEVER take the subway. They always hail cabs,
driven by wisecracking cabdrivers (some even Caucasian!).
How I Met Your Mother, a critical darling that
is admired for its sharp writing (which is deserved) but like most sitcoms
gets just about everything else wrong.Out of
this repetititiveness comes
era of the Seinfeld hangover, and in its desperation to offer a
sitcom-starved nation classic episodes and catchphrases, the series suffers
at best from writing that is more interesting than its characters. They pull
out all the stops here to try to win your love: Wonder Years moments
of lightbulb-over-the-head narration, and network TV's version of intimate
also entreated to character quirks that seem to come out of a Mad Lib.
Examples: a busy career gal
manages to own five dogs while
living in a small apartment. A dude has
an office job, but it's never mentioned exactly what he does (this is
supposed to be funny and intriguing). Catchphrases for your endearment:
"Suit up," "Steak Sauce" (meaning A-l!), and many versions of "high five."
And, here's the one that is supposed to get us right in the heart and soul
and never let go:
when introducing the main character to a quirky
assortment of women who may or may not
become "the mother:" "Have you met Ted?"
very least, the series gets right to the point: twenty years into the
future, the story leading up to how a mother and a father meet and marry is
told by the father. His teenaged children seem unusually, perversely swept
up in the tale, and the viewer is meant to be kept in the dark as to who the
mother will eventually turn out to be (most likely saved for the series'
finale). So the premise is presented clearly, but the details are then
dangled in front of us in a slow, meandering, peek-a-boo.
story zips back and forth between the present and the future (mostly the
present), with a peppy, Beach-Boys-type theme song to prove that it's all in
fun and that fate is funny. Again (and again and again and again), we are
asked to care deeply that the main male and female will get together and be,
in fact, the "mother" the "I" should meet. Meanwhile, we watch them have
are teased about the final answer to the series' premise, we watch these
twenty-somethings "suit up" for an alcoholic future (at least the Friends
gang were coffee drinkers) as they gather at their favorite watering hole
(what a concept!) and make plans for their misadventures ("let's drive down
to Philly and lick the Liberty Bell!").
course, like yuppie New York, everyone here is super-attractive and boring
as all get out. We have the law student whose heart is not in it, the TV
news reporter who is humiliated into doing human-interest stories, and the
law student's fiancι, who well, she's too boring to remember.
we are asked to care for the Jimmy-Fallon type who is looking for love in
all the wrong places is an "architect," with a lot of spare time to bitch
and moan about meeting Mrs. Right. All of his friends with the patience of
saints seem not only to tolerate this, but encourage it.
Stealing the show,
as we have been told over and over again, is Neil Patrick Harris as Barney,
the suit-wearing yuppie who riffs off the sitcom one-liners like a master
marksman. Naturally, he is masterful, and he does steal the show; however,
it's not a fair contest. There is nobody to steal the show from.
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Posted: May 27, 2007.