Back in 2005, a little comedy arrived on CBS that I completely ignored called How I Met Your Mother. Why, you ask? I have no answer for that. Perhaps it was because it was on Monday night and paired with Charlie Sheen's questionable hit Two and a Half Men, a show I do not care for. I chose to stay with 24 and Prison Break on Monday's.
Now it is 2008 and they are in the midst of a strike-shortened third season and I can say that I have not seen a single episode. However fate was about to step in and forever color my opinion of the series, in a good way.
It was just the other night, I was sitting in my room, my writing assignments done for the day and I was looking for something to do — or watch as the case turned out to be. Sitting next to the television was a stack of "to be watched" DVDs. Part of that stack was the second season of How I Met Your Mother. So, with no other bright ideas, I grabbed the first disk, slipped it into the player and was transported into a wonderful world of sitcomery (yes, sitcomery).
I was expecting some run of the mill, network-driven sitcom. What I found was something that is surprisingly clever, witty, and just flat out enjoyable. Seriously, it was so much better than I had expected it to be. Now, I don't want to overstate it — it is not the greatest sitcom I have ever seen, but it is well above your normal network fare.
Being my first experience with the series, I had to get caught up on the central conceit. That conceit is that the series is being told in flashback from the perspective of Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) telling his kids how he met their mother, who has yet to be introduced. None other than Bob Saget does the voiceover. Okay, moving along.
The series focuses on five friends in their twenties, living in New York, and dealing with their jobs and each other. Ted is dating Robin (Cobie Smulders), who is not the mother of the future, Marshall (Jason Segel) is dating Lilly (Alyson Hannigan), and then there is the womanizing Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). Together they are quite the ensemble.
The second season picks up with Ted and Robin as a couple (I read that season one had him in pursuit of her), and Marshall and Lilly broken up when she left New York to be an artist in San Francisco. Those threads carry the weight throughout this season, while leaving room for plenty of laughs and one-offs that allow sitcoms to be easily digestible entertainment.
As for this season, there are plenty of fun episodes. There are the episodes where Barney gets a new nickname, Marshall "dates" another single guy, Lilly kidnaps Christmas, and plenty others. I was really surprised by how much fun the series is.
Any show that can make me laugh out loud is a good one in my book. Plus, it has Buffy's Alyson Hannigan, which is always a good thing.
Audio/Video. The tech side of the disk is fine. The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen and features good color, deep blacks, and no artifacts. Audio is Dolby Digitial 5.1 and sounds fine, sitcoms are not terribly taxing for an audio system.
Extras. There is a nice selection of extras spread across the three-disk set.
- Commentaries. There are seven tracks spread across the set with a variety of participants including Bob Saget, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, and series creator Carter Bays.
- Robin Sparkles Video. One episode reveals Robin to have been a teen Canadian pop star; here is her gloriously awful music video.
- Gag Reel. This runs for about ten minutes and features your standard collection of goofed lines and fun on the set.
- How We Make Your Mother. A look at how an episode was made, focusing on the script and the read through.
- Deleted Scenes. A few funny snips from the season.
Bottom line. What a surprise this turned out to be. I cannot tell you how enjoyable it is to find something that is really good in the unlikeliest of places. The cast clicks, their chemistry is first rate, and the laughs are undeniable. Do yourself a favor, if you are like me and have avoided this series — rent it, buy it, borrow it, and try to prove me wrong.