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HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Season One

Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars:  Josh Rednor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders
Director:  Pam Fryman
Video:  Color full frame 1:33:1
Audio:  Dolby 5.1, English, French, and Spanish subtitles
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length: 482 minutes, 3 discs
Release date:  November 21, 2006

Ted:  Who the hell am I going to bring to this wedding?
Barney:  Ted, have you ignored all of my teachings?
Ted:  For the most part, yeah.
Barney: You don’t bring a date to a wedding.  That’s like bringing a deer carcass on a hunting trip.

Ted:  (holding roses) I’m crazy about you, I think we should be together. Whadya say?
Robin: I have to pee.


Show ***1/2

I knew this series was special when Ted, our single everyman, made it rain in an early season, just so that the girl he loved would not be able to go camping with another guy.  He did it just by praying, doing a Native American Rain-Dance and yelling at the sky in desperation.  Oh we’ve all done that from time to time, haven’t we?

The subtitle of this show is “A Love Story in Reverse.”  The idea was that a man explains to his son and daughter how he and their mother met.  Each show opens with him (Bob Saget) giving a brief narrative to the children, then the action begins, with some occasional narration intermingled.  But as the season went on, there were fewer and fewer voice-overs, and in Season Two, this device was dispensed with altogether after the first episode, because it was no longer needed.  The show works fine as the best new sitcom of the last few years, though it is not on the level of the golden 70’s sit-coms…not yet at least!

The cast is an interesting mix of familiar faces and newbies.  We all know Alyson Hannigan as the band camp girl from American Pie and Neil Patrick Harris was Doogie Howser of course.  Rednor and Segel have some prior credits but Cobie Smulders worked primarily as a model before this show.  They work well as an ensemble comparable to the Friends gang, though they contrast much better.  Instead of a bunch of losers against the world, they compliment each other.  They seem like real people instead of cartoons. 

Ted is a successful and ambitious young architect, Barney is successful, Robin is a rising television news reporter, Lily is a kindergarten teacher, and in fact much of the tension comes from their various dreams and ambitions clashing.  Friends on the other hand seemed to me like this long drawn out junior high prom where a group of lovable losers just never did get it together.  Only their charisma and chemistry made the show funny.  I could never really like them as people.

Harris’ portrayal of Barney is especially hilarious as the ultimate womanizing yuppie, who says every night will be “Legendary!” and encourages the men to “Suit up!”  He has forever erased our image of him in his childhood role.  Hannigan shows she was not a one-trick actress and Smulders truly smolders but can be funny too.

Video ****

As with most current releases, it looks even better than on satellite.  Just shimmering.

Audio  ****

Just hearing the show’s chirpy theme coming out of the surround system made the whole thing worthwhile.  Throughout the episodes we hear the dialogue clearing, music cues are just fine, and the occasional voiceovers and laugh tracks all mesh just fine in the audio field.

Features ***

The video yearbook is very cool, about twenty minutes about the origins of the show, explaining that finding the love of your life is the heart of the show, and how hard it was to sell the show right when everyone was saying the sit-com was dead.

Several episodes include commentaries from creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, which even shows pictures of them with their brides in the episode “Drumroll, Please” in which Ted finally meets the lovely Ashley Williams, who definitely deserves the award for Hottest Actress Who Should have Been Made a Regular.   The commentaries are not terribly educational but very entertaining.

There are two brief video montages, First Round and Last Call, and a Happy Hour blooper montage, all of which are hilarious but actually not as funny as the show itself, which is a good thing.

Summary:

The best new sitcom of the 2004-2005 comes to disc in time for new fans to enjoy for the 2006-2007 season.  Highly recommended.   And can we have the lovely Ashley Williams back please?

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