|How I Met Your Mother: Season One (2005)
Starring: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders
“How I Met Your Mother” is the new “Friends.”
It’s not the first time I’ve made this declaration, and it won’t be the last. It’s a solid ensemble comedy with incredible chemistry between the characters, and an ongoing will-they-won’t-they romantic plotline between Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) that’s right up there with Ross and Rachel…except that you know that even if they will, they won’t for long.
Let me clarify that.
The gimmick with “How I Met Your Mother” is that it’s narrated from a future vantage point, a la “The Wonder Years,” with voiceover work from Bob Saget as Future Ted. Although the first several episodes provide us with a narrator’s-eye view of his son and daughter, listening to these various stories that their dad is telling…and one of the first stories involves him referring to “Aunt Robin,” so, clearly, Ted’s wife is not destined to be Robin. You’d think that’d be a major spoiler for the series, but, strangely, it isn’t. There’s tremendous sexual tension between Ted and Robin, and, despite this information, you still find yourself rooting for them to get together, even if you know it’s doomed to failure.
But, hey, enough about Ted and Robin. There’s a lot more to this series than just their relationship. Jason Segel (“Freaks and Geeks”) and Alyson Hannigan (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) play Marshall Erickson and Lily Aldrin, Ted’s roommates. Marshall’s a big, goofy lug from Minnesota, and Lily’s a cutie with her fair share of goofiness; it’s one of those TV pairings you’re actually happy with, because you look at these two and can’t help but think, “Yeah, those two really are perfect for each other!” Ted gets a love interest for a few episodes, played by the so-cute-it-can’t-possibly-be-legal Ashley Williams, who has since gotten a regular gig on Showtime’s “Huff.” It’s also a hoot for TV geeks to see guest appearances by folks who used to co-star with Segel and Hannigan; you get Sam Levine and Martin Starr from “Freaks and Geeks,” as well as Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley on both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” (and is also married to Hannigan). There’s also a nicely utilized guest shot in one episode from Danica McKellar, a.k.a. Winnie Cooper (who, FYI, is still a major hottie), proving conclusively that Bays and Thomas knew full well that they were ripping off “The Wonder Years” when they “borrowed” the whole future-narration thing.
The guy in the ensemble who will end up being quoted for decades to come, however, is Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson. If Harris’s post-“Doogie” started by playing himself in “Harold and Kumar,” this ought to get it rolling in earnest. Barney is a character for the ages. For one thing, he’s created a great game called “Have You Met Ted?” (It involves walking up to a hot girl, asking, “Have you met Ted?” and walking away, leaving Ted standing there with the girl.) Also, count on phrases like “Suit up,” “Phone-five,” and “It’s going to be legendary!” making it into your regular repertoire after watching this show. (Or, for the latter line, you may prefer, “It's going to be legen...wait for it...and I hope you're not lactose-intolerant 'cause the second half of that word is...dairy!”) The number of brilliant one-liners throughout these 22 episodes can’t be counted without way more work than I’m willing to do, but here are some highlights:
- Lebanese girls are the new half-asians.
- There are only two reasons to date a girl you've already dated: breast implants.
- One of the 24 similarities between women and fish are they're both attracted to shiny objects. Don't you ever read my blog?
- Come on Ted, this is an incredible opportunity. We'll meet our soul mates, nail 'em and never call 'em again.
- You invited me up to your apartment to play Battleship. Is that not an internationally recognized term for sex?
- I'm tired of the whole bar scene, the one-night hookups. I'm looking for a soul mate, someone who I can love and cuddle... or so it says in my profile.
It should also be noted that if you never got into “Friends” because you just thought it was too damned mainstream, then “How I Met Your Mother” is definitely for you. Ted uses both Kim Deal and Kim Gordon as points of reference when looking for his soul mate, he once dated a girl who had a favorite Belle & Sebastian song, and when he’s drunk, he stands on tables and sings Cheap Trick’s “Voices.” Not “The Flame,” my friend, but “Voices.” (If it’s good enough for Jon Brion to cover, you’d better show some respect.)
“How I Met Your Mother” is definitely the best traditional sitcom on television; if you haven’t gotten in on it yet, now’s your chance.
Special Features: For a first-season set, “How I Met Your Mother” is tricked out pretty decently. There are commentaries on six episodes, some with the entire cast, some with creators Bays and Thomas, and one where director Pam Fryman teams up with Bays and Thomas. You also get two short clip montages that show just how much drinking goes on during the course of the show, a blooper reel, and a nice 20-minute featurette – “Video Yearbook” – that details the creation of the show and the first season, complete with Bob Saget narration.