Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I Met Your Mother's final season starts strong

Overall I like "How I Met Your Mother," but the last season or so, I've run pretty hot and cold on the show. It felt like it was starting to overstay its welcome, and I was ready to finally meet the titular mother, wrap up everyone's storylines and get on with my life. In fact, I even considered dropping the show a few times last season, although when I'd almost get to that point, the show would reel me back in with an exceptionally good episode.

The titular Mother, played by Cristin Milioti, who we finally met briefly at the end of last season.

It was with some trepidation, but also some excitement, that I watched Monday night's hourlong premiere.
Thankfully, this season's first episodes were a delight - a mix of hilarity and sweetness that characterizes the best episodes of "How I Met Your Mother."

(Warning: There are some spoilers ahead!)

How Lily Met Your Mother
The best moments, hands down, were when Lily and the Mother got a chance to interact, on a train to Farhampton for Barney and Robin's wedding weekend. Lily was upset because Marshall's mother kept posting pictures of Baby Marvin trying to convince her not to move the family to Rome for her job. The mother saw that and offered Lily some of her cookies, which they quickly named Sumbitches (as in, "Hand me another one of those Sumbitches!"). I liked this first glimpse of the Mother's personality, and I was pleased that the Mother was a much more likable person than I feared she might be. After season after season of buildup, I was afraid she might not be as great as I'd hoped she'd be, and since Ted is, by far, my least favorite character in the Gang, I was afraid he might marry somebody who is as much of a pretentious dweeb as he is. However, at least from this first interaction with the Mother, I think I'm going to like her. She has a real sweet side, as evidenced by being nice to Lily, who was obviously in distress, but she also had some sass to her, too, which is why she got along so well with Lily. From Ted's asides, it sounds like she's also kind of a dweeb, but since she's also nice and funny, her dweebishness will be a quirk, not something that defines her and makes her obnoxious. Also, Lily and the Mother have wonderful chemistry - they seemed like the kind of people who just immediately become best friends. I hope that Robin reacts the same way and they can all be best friends forever! The relationships, especially between women, on "How I Met Your Mother" are refreshing because they're not catty or jealous very often, and I would hate to see them ruin that good track record by having Robin be weirdly jealous or something.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Marshall Style
Marshall's subplot, getting kicked off a plane for trying to get his mother to take a photo down off Facebook and subsequently missing all other flights from Minneapolis to New York was decently funny, mainly because also in his orbit is Daphne, played by the always funny Sherri Shepherd. I wish Marshall were with the rest of the gang, because Jason Segel is great at playing off the other actors - I love his chemistry with Alyson Hannigan and some of his best scenes are the ones with Neil Patrick Harris - but his film schedule prevented him from being able to be with the Gang quite as much for this last season. (That's one of the hazards of having fantastic actors in your show, I guess!) Still, I am looking forward to a couple of good episodes with Marshall and Daphne trying desperately to get to New York.

The Happy Couple
Despite the fact that this final season is gearing up to Ted meeting the Mother, the season is apparently going to surround the wedding of Barney and Robin. The premiere dealt with several issues surrounding the happy couple. First, they were discussing their "wild card" relatives who might ruin the wedding (but at the end of the episode we found out who the real wild card is going to be - stay tuned!), then, in the midst of that discussion, they discovered they just might be cousins. Their reactions were varied and funny - my favorite was Barney's quote, "King Joffrey's parents were brother and sister and he was a fair and wise leader." It was such a Barney moment! But after they discovered that they don't share DNA, they were on to the wedding to discover that James, Barney's gay brother, is getting a divorce. Since James' marriage was the only thing that made Barney believe that marriage could work, Robin was afraid he would bolt, but Barney took things surprisingly well. Unfortunately, though, I think that this might, might, be the first in a series of events that drives Robin and Barney apart, and that would make me very sad. As much as I love Barney and his hookups (they were a wonderful running gag throughout the show), I really like the idea of Barney and Robin ending up together forever. They are a great couple because they have similar goals and interests in life. The fact that they'll never have children also provides a wonderful contrast to the family bliss of Lily and Marshal and Ted and the Mother. If they end up happy, it is a story about happily childfree people - and that is a story that doesn't get told very often.

Stray thoughts
A few other favorite things about the premiere:
  • I loved the hotel staff, both the hotel clerk who gave Ted a lot of unwanted sympathy for being there alone (happily single people can relate, I'm sure, even though Ted is not as happily single as he's acting), and Linus, the bartender who gave Lily the "Kennedy package" and kept handing her a drink every time she finished one. Those were a couple of funny little running gags.
  • Barney kept talking about having a ringbear. Such a Barney thing to say. 
  • The clips of James (Wayne Brady) singing at a wedding were really funny. Wayne Brady cracks me up.
  • Three words: Lady Tedwina Slowsby. It's one of the reasons I think I'm really going to like the Mother.
What did you think of the "How I Met Your Mother" premiere?

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