"How I Met Your Mother" Season 5 at its Mid-Point

12/01/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Max Tedaldi

The primetime scheduling for CBS relishes consistency. The network has found what works and has done a remarkable job sticking with it. The CBS brass might ask, "What’s our most successful show? CSI? Let’s just make another one and put it in another location! That one is doing well too? Lets make two more!" This process has repeated itself several times, thus resulting in four CSI programs, two NCIS programs, not to mention "Cold Case," "Criminal Minds" and "Numb3rs," which all are essentially the same thing. This backbone has laid way for a revolving door of sitcoms that get picked up and dumped faster than a sorority coed. One show that has survived the onslaught of anything non-CSI is “How I Met Your Mother," a quirky show that finds its niche among viewers looking for something with more of an edge than “Friends” but less eccentricity than “Arrested Development.”

Halfway through its fifth season, “How I Met Your Mother” follows the lives of five New Yorkers as they navigate love, friendship and city living. Told through a series of flashbacks, the structure of the show is based upon a father relating the intricate details to his children of how he met their mother. This provides a unique narrative for a show that utilizes the “flashback” to hilarious effect throughout each episode. Bob Sagat, who lends his voice talents to the role of the father, is tragically underutilized in this role and adopts a “Full House” persona of warmth that wastes his “Aristocrats” level of comedic gifts. Sagat’s innocuous role is clearly designed to not detract from the show's true star, a chauvinistic, bro-ed out Neil Patrick Harris. Harris has garnered three Emmy nominations for his role as Barney Stinsen by creating a character that is so diabolically sleazy and lovable that one cannot help being mesmerized by him. His brief, albeit hilarious, cameos in the “Harold and Kumar” series are essentially Barney Stinson on crack, a role that he has perfected.

Apart from a gay actor playing the straightest character on television, what reasons are there to tune to CBS at 8 p.m. on Mondays? “How I Met Your Mother” fills a profound void that the end of “Friends” and the premature cancelling of “Arrested Development” left behind. Clever, quirky writing keeps the show fresh and fun, and the endless amounts of promotional content will keep even the most veteran fans intrigued. Commercial tie-ins, music videos, blogs and twitter updates all do an excellent job of cross-promoting the show and hike the level of involvement up a notch. They also might explain why the show has a burgeoning cult following that hangs on Barney Stinson’s every Tweet. A viral advertising campaign also has helped would-be viewers get a taste for the shows eccentric frat-boy sense of humor. See the videos below for a glimpse at what I’m talking about.

What makes “How I Met Your Mother” a special show is the way it combines an episodic format with longer episode arcs to create a viewing experience that operates on two different levels. Anyone can watch an episode of the show and appreciate it without any back-story, but viewers more intimate with the show are treated to a bevy of inside jokes that will make you feel as if you just reunited with your best friends from high school. The show routinely operates on different levels simultaneously, which helps to broaden its appeal. Whenever, Ted (Josh Radnor) gets too lovey-dovey with a girlfriend, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) waxes elegantly from his self-penned scripture “The Bro Code.” Whenever Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) descend into the sweet-nothings of their alter egos Marshmallow and Lilypad, Robin (Cobie Smulders) is there to chomp on a cigar and tout the advantages of being a gun enthusiast. These juxtapositions allow the show to stay creative and fresh without alienating anyone, while creating characters and scenarios that are nothing short of legen…wait for it…dary.

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