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How I Met Your Mother Goes a Little Far for the Funny

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Last night marked the first night of FOX's latest (greatest?) Monday night lineup. It's actually a really solid couple of shows – 24 and House. At least on the first night of the new lineup, FOX was able to come away with a win in the 18-49 demographic, and I was certainly watching both hours of TV. Of course, I watched a lot of TV beyond just FOX's dramas; I also took a gander at The Secret Life of the American Teenager and good old How I Met Your Mother.

Now, How I Met Your Mother regularly plays with time, jumping forwards and backwards to make things funny and create surprise reveals. They certainly did as much last night, allowing us to believe that the three story segments we were witnessing were all taking place on a Tuesday when in fact some were on Tuesday, some were on Wednesday, and some were on Thursday. It's the exact same sort of trick used to great effect in Silence of the Lambs – we all think that the Feds are outside Buffalo Bill's house, when in fact it's only Clarice. We as viewers have been taught to assume when one camera shot cuts to another that the two things follow one another in time and, in the case of shots inside a house and outside a house like in Silence, in space as well. Of course, they don't have to be, which is what HIMYM illustrated last night.

Normally I don't mind jumping backwards and forwards in time; there are moments when it seems that HIMYM goes an awfully long way to get a chuckle, but I tend to think that they're clever enough that they can get away with it. Last night though, I just don't think it rang true.

If you'll recall, Lily went to a liquor store where the owner said to her that he wouldn't necessarily call it the "storm of the century" (it's pretty early in the century), or even the "storm of the year" (same reason). Now, if we were to believe that Lily was there on Tuesday (as was the implication), that seems acceptable. However, Lily was there on Thursday, meaning that it had been snowing for three days straight. "Storm of the century" may still be a little dramatic, but surely "storm of the year" isn't out of line for 72 hours of snow in the city of New York.

Nitpicky? Maybe, but still true. Unless global warming is messing up the atmosphere at a far greater rate than anyone anticipates, a single 72-hour snowstorm pretty much qualifies as the "storm of the year" in New York.

Okay, maybe I shouldn't be so nitpicky about the whole thing, as the show was building to a solid dramatic crescendo with Marshall picking up Lily at the airport accompanied by the Arizona Tech Marching Band. But, I am going to be that nitpicky, I am. I still liked the episode, I still thought it was funny, I still like the characters, I just believe that they did in fact push a little too hard in trying to get us to accept that everything was taking place on one day when it wasn't. It would have been easy enough to have the liquor store owner have some other quirk (or no quirk at all). I think it was just one joke too many.

Speaking of one joke too many, Secret Life, which was at one time a funny, heartfelt drama, seems to have moved almost completely to being a semi-serious, heartfelt comedy. They seem to be pushing the comedy over the reality lately, and I feel like it's not quite the show I was sold on last year. I'm putting it into the "making me nervous" category instead of the "yeah, I like that show" one. Hopefully they straighten things out soon.

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.