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A Monday Television Night to Remember

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Last week I suggested to you that Monday, March 17 might represent a true night of televisual bliss. I was not wrong. Top Gear last night was bloody brilliant, and even if How I Met Your Mother did not reach the dizzyingly funny heights of some episodes, it was certainly a solid effort in the writers' first episode back from the strike.

Even better than that, however, was the fact that despite being moved from the 8:00 timeslot to the 8:30 timeslot, HIMYM performed above its season average in the 18-49 demo. Plus, it built on the numbers delivered by The Big Bang Theory, and was up against the season premiere of Dancing with the Stars. CBS ought to get off the fence and declare that HIMYM is no longer "on the bubble," but squarely placed in the "renewed for next season" category. Do you hear me CBS? Renew the show for next season. Renew it now. It built on the numbers from its lead-in, and was up against the highest rated half-hour of DWTS. Not to mention, and this is the kicker, the show is actually good. It's funny. It's got a heart. And, if some effort was put behind a campaign, it could get an Emmy for Neil Patrick Harris.

Like I said though, it wasn't quite as funny as it could have been, there was something off last night about the narrative structure of the show. They often do stories from multiple points of view and fact versus fiction kind of stuff, but that switch happened so late and so quickly last night that it hardly seemed worth the effort of putting it in. I don't know how the story could have been retold so as to not have the switch be so jolting and so brief, but something needed to be done differently to really have the piece work as a whole.

I wouldn't, on the other hand, change a thing about last night's Top Gear. Absolutely bloody brilliant (I'd use a different adjective, but every time I say "bloody brilliant" I do it with a British accent and it just sounds so right). Last night Clarkson, May, and Hammond had to each fly to Botswana, buy a car (not a 4×4) for less than 1,500 pounds (about 3,000 US dollars), and drive the car across the country. Oh sure, it sounds easy, but they were going over the Makgadikgadi salt flats that have never been traversed in a car, and then across the Kalahari Desert. It was not easy, even if they did have a huge crew and mechanic with them.

More to the point, it was utterly hysterical. The situations our three presenters found themselves in, whether they were of their own making (like Clarkson and Hammond trying to put a cow's head in May's tent in order to attract flies and wild animals only to find out they were in Hammond's tent when some hippos approached) or not (getting repeatedly stuck in the guck of the salt flats) left me rolling on the floor. Better than that however, they left my wife, who is not a Top Gear fan, laughing too.

As I haven't said it yet this week, let me close with it — Top Gear may just be the best show on television.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.