Sunday, December 22, 2013

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Doesn't Act Like "Bass Player Wanted"

Article first published as HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Doesn't Act Like "Bass Player Wanted" on TheTVKing.

Despite some early reticence, I have to admit that CBS's How I Met Your Mother has had a pretty great final fall run. Two weeks ago "The Rehearsal Dinner" was super sweet, and this week's "Bass Player Wanted," which serves as the mid-season finale, brings things together nicely. There are complaints to be had (such as Marshall taking half a season to join the others), but overall, it's been an enjoyable, heart-warming, and occasionally funny batch of installments.

My biggest complaint is that we haven't had enough of The Mother (Cristin Milioti). After being added to the central cast and making an instant impression, we've seen her only briefly and sporadically. She is well-used when she appears, but she's missing for long stretches of time and that's disappointing because she is such a likable, interesting character.

In "Bass Player Wanted," The Mother meets Marshall (Jason Segel) when she picks him up on the side of the road. They have wonderful chemistry right off the back, quickly able to joke with and relate to one another. It's very similar to The Mother's meeting with Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and it's very easy to see how she will fit in the group because of this.

Picking The Mother was a very difficult task for the production. She not only had to be a good actress, but they had to craft a character that would enjoy hanging out with the others, not bring too much of her own baggage, but still be a well-rounded person who isn't a loner. Somehow, the exact right mix of this has been found in Milioti's role.

"Bass Player Wanted" introduces us to Darren (Andrew Rannells, The New Normal, Girls), The Mother's 'friend' who has taken over her band. The Mother mentions knowing him for a few years, so presumably he will have to be in the upcoming spin-off, How I Met Your Dad. But, since he's definitely not a pal, having him be a main player would be difficult, and that actor is in-demand, so he may not be free for a recurring part. It will be interesting to see if or how this plays out.

We also learn that The Mother has been in a band for years. This will also have to be an element in How I Met Your Dad. How much of the series might include her singing? We know Milioti has a great voice (she's been praised for her Broadway work), and knowing this gives us an interesting taste of the new project.

More important than The Mother, though, is how the central quintet of characters come together, even though this half hour sees them at odds.. Marshall finally arrives for the wedding, but Lily is very angry because he took the judgeship behind her back, dashing her professional dreams. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) gets ticked off at Ted (Josh Radnor) upon learning of Ted's plan to move to Chicago. Lily is angry at Robin (Cobie Smulders) for siding with Marshall, even though Robin is only doing so because she doesn't want Lily to move away. Also, Robin thinks Lily is stealing her thunder.

Halfway through the series' final season, things are kind of falling apart for our protagonists. They have kept some secrets from one another, and not always put their friends first. "Bass Player Wanted" is the sweet moment when they all come together and work through those differences. It probably won't be completely smooth sailing for the rest of the season, but as the time of the wedding moves closer, these five need to stick together, and this is a good way to get to that.

There are some nice little bits in this episode, too. Linus (Robert Belushi, son of Jim) continues to get plenty of screen time, becoming a fun recurring part. The humor 'rule of three' is satisfied as a third bottle of extremely expensive scotch is broken. The Mother buys Ted a drink, and even though they don't meet, it's a cool start to their relationship, knowing as the viewers do that they will be together. And ending the episode with the fourth slap, cliffhanger-style, is appreciated.

How I Met Your Mother will return to conclude its run soon on CBS.

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