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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Farhampton not far off for How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother began its eighth season premiere on CBS last night with "Farhampton." Much of the action was set in Farhampton, the place where Ted (Josh Radnor) will finally meet the titular mother. In fact, "Farhampton" brings viewers right up to the point where Ted is about to encounter her, and then stops just short of that fateful moment.

The creators have said before that meeting the mother may not be the end of the show. But the last few seasons have started to tease this moment, the day of Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) wedding. It certainly feels like the end, now that so much time has been spent building towards it. The creators are keeping the show's biggest reveal so secret, they won't even admit whether the legs we saw belong to an already-cast actress or a stand-in. It's simultaneously nice to know that we're getting closer to the big day, but frustrating that a timeline has not been firmly established.

When will this day actually happen? November sweeps? February sweeps? May sweeps (if the series is renewed for a ninth year)? All I can say is, it will almost surely be during one of those sweeps periods. And it will probably happen very quickly, with little build up in the prior episodes, so as to surprise the fans as much as can be, given the flash forwards.

Before Barney and Robin get married, though, they first have to lose their current significant others. The tipping point for Barney's beau comes in "Farhampton" when Quinn (Becki Newton) learns that he has neglected to mention that he used to date Robin. This is a betrayal of her trust, and while Barney manages to prevent her from leaving him on the spot, it definitely seems like their nearly perfect bond has been broken. It's unfortunate, considering the awesome chemistry Newton and Harris have, but this probably is a big part of what will lead to their impending dissolution.

Robin, like Barney, is very happy with someone else. In her case, he's little more than arm candy (Michael Trucco, Battlestar Galactica, Fairly Legal), which could be why it won't work in the long-term. But before she can even get tired of the new guy, Barney drops a bombshell when he gives Robin the key to a storage space where he has stored all of their memories. It hits Robin hard, and while she thought that she was over Barney, it's clear that she really isn't. The fact that Barney has this space at all proves he feels the same way. Thus, the seeds are planted for a sweet reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Ted and Victoria's (Ashley Williams) plan to run away together hits a snag when they find it difficult to leave a note for Klaus (Thomas Lennon, Night at the Museum, Reno 911!). If it's this much trouble, is it even worth it to leave a note? And what is it with people sneaking off and just leaving a piece of paper? I know this is a sitcom, but it's gotten to be a ridiculous pattern. Please tell me that real people don't really do this? Surely, most weddings actually happen, and even those that don't usually get more than a quick scribble, right? A face to face conversation is the minimum owed to the jilted party.

To make matters even more unbelievable, Klaus, too, writes a note and flees. He tells Ted that it is because Victoria is almost perfect for him, but not quite, and that everyone meets that person that they are meant to be with eventually. This makes for a great story, but it's simply not true. There will be issues in every relationship, and plenty of people never do find the exact right person. I hate to bring a dose of cynical reality into the mix, but this just isn't how it works.

That's the problem with How I Met Your Mother. At times, it ventures too far into cartoon territory, leaving the real world behind. This is acceptable for some series, but in a show that seems to be set in the actual world, it makes some elements ring a bit hollow. That was fine when the series was still very funny, but it's not anymore. I like the growth into deeper, dramatic territory, as it has more fully fleshed out the characters, but the world around them didn't shift in tandem, which is why this is only a good show nowadays, not a great one as it once was.

And then there's Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel), who are barely necessary in this particular episode, but hang around the entire time anyway. The water haze special effect is kind of lame, and I'd rather see them sit out most of a week than be wasted in this manner.


Recent episodes of How I Met Your Mother have gotten so much better than the middle period of the series. In a perfect world, it will nail the elusive perfectly balanced dramedy tone before the end. Even in an imperfect reality, though, it has a shot at doing so. Watch How I Met Your Mother Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Check out my website, JeromeWetzel.com! First posted on TheTVKing

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