Ever since FRIENDS called it a day I haven't really been tuning in to much TV sitcom stuff. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and [[ASIN:B00005JOHC Two and a Half Men - The Complete First Season]] are just about the only sitcoms I've kept an eye on. Of the two, I like HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER just a bit better. I think it's got more heart, and it's certainly introduced "Awesome!" back into prime-time vocabulary. Anyway, its season one hooked me in.
That same old premise: a bunch of friends wending their way thru life and love in N.Y.C. Ted Mosby (the pleasant looking Josh Radnor) is at the heart of the show, the idealistic, wide-eyed romantic and our point-of-view character. Lily (BUFFY's Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (FREAK & GEEK's Jason Segel) are the cute couple and Ted's roommates. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is the subversive buddy, and, c'mon, it's always nice to have one in the pack, right? Robin (beautiful Cobie Smulders) is the newcomer to the gang, and the dangling romantic interest for Ted. Most of the characters dwell in an apartment right above a bar, so you can imagine where they most hang out.
This series uses a gimmick in which, in the year 2030, an off-camera older Ted (voiced by Bob Saget) tells his future kids how he met their mother. It's taking a really long time for Older Ted to tell this story. Sweetness and snarkiness consistently hobnob in these episodes. From Ted's old-fashioned romantic leanings and Lily and Marshall's steady relationship to Barney's casual immorality and narcissism. The show even makes effective use of quick comedy cuts ala FAMILY GUY. But the big question is, of course, will Ted and Robin ever get together?
Just check out the cast episode commentaries, and you can tell these folks like each other. Even though the main story arc centers on Ted, this is pretty much an ensemble cast. Everyone gets a slice of the spotlight. Radnor, Smulders, and Hannigan are fine, but, to me, the two people who stand out and provide most of the humor are scene-stealers Segel and Harris. Jason Segel's character is a sweet, good-natured, shambling kind of dude, a looming kid at heart who also does a mean robot. Well, okay, his robot sucks. But dude's funny.
An indispensable ingredient to the show's success is the energetic and smarmy Neil Patrick Harris ([[ASIN:B00076YOZY Doogie Howser, M.D. - Season One]], [[ASIN:B00068WOH8 Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (Unrated Extended Edition)]]). The show's creators had originally imagined Barney as more of a manic Jack Black type, but Harris' gung-ho audition apparently made them do a swift one-eighty, and the rest is "legendary." Now I can't get all these Barney-isms out of my noggin, from "Suit up!" to "Have you met Ted?" to, yes, "legendary." Old Doogie, more than anyone else on this show, keeps the season-long romantic arc from being too saccharine.
ANGEL fans might be stoked to see Amy Acker guest star in one episode ("Come On") and Alexis Denisof, who's Hannigan's hubby in real, appear in several episodes as Robin's co-anchor Sandy Rivers. Also memorable is Ashley Williams as Ted's cool culinary girlfriend Victoria.
Even though the show loses steam in the later episodes - and I felt the final episode underwhelmed (Rain dance? Really?) - the dropoff isn't that significant. And, throughout, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER retains its heart. Several standout episodes are the "Pilot" ('cause it's the friggin' pilot), "Okay Awesome" (the sub-title show), "The Pineapple Incident" (Ted gets drunk, but remains "vomit free since '93"), "The Limo" (trapped in a limo with crazy Moby), and Game Night" (the origin of Barney).
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - SEASON ONE includes "Video Yearbook" (the 20-minute-long behind the scenes featurette) and "Happy Hour" (9 minutes worth of outtakes, and pretty funny). There are cast & crew audio commentaries on six episodes, and here's the thing: If you're looking for insights and background into the series, then select the writers' episode commentaries, although these cats were kind of boring and annoying. If you want comfy camaraderie with random babbletalk, then select the cast commentaries. You don't learn much from the cast, but they were fun to listen to.
Wait a mo. There is one thing I learned from the cast commentaries: That "Saba Homayoon!" is not only the name of an extra in the pilot but apparently is also what one reflexively howls out when seeing a beautiful girl. Dude, check out that babe! Saba Homayo-o-o-on!