Mother: Season Four
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All photos © CBS
Reviewed by Will Harris
our seasons in, and still no mother…?
Ah, who are we kidding: it’s not like anyone still watches the show to find out who Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is going to end up with. In fact, were you to do a man-on-the-street poll amongst “How I Met Your Mother” fans, the odds are very good that you’d find Ted turning up as the least interesting member of the gang. Unfortunately, he takes a lot of the focus in the series’ fourth year, thereby making the titular claims of this package a bit iffy. There are still some legendary moments, but there’s a feeling that the series is treading water a bit.
The season kicks off with Stella (Sarah Chalke) accepting Ted’s proposal of marriage, but those who were skeptical that the chick from “Scrubs” would be on two series simultaneously were on the money: although they made it as far as the site of their wedding, Stella ended up bailing on poor Mr. Mosby at the altar. Ted’s struggle to get over his ex-fiancée goes on throughout the course of the season, though he does manage to have a brief reconciliation and fling with his very first girlfriend, Karen (Laura Prepon); although the character’s incredible bitchiness was funny, it was wise of the producers to only have her stick around for a pair of episodes, as it would’ve gotten tired pretty quickly.
Sadly, Ted’s career as an architect isn’t doing much better than his love life. After getting laid off, he attempts to start his own firm, going with a typically pretentious name (Mosbius Designs), but by season’s end, he’s gone in a completely different direction. Robin has her own career woes in Season Four, though it looks at first like she’s found a dream job in Japan. Unfortunately, it proves to be an even less serious news job than the one she left in New York, so she returns and finds herself forced to take a gig with a morning show – or, rather, a middle-of-the-night show, since it actually kicks off at 3 AM. She also ends up living with Ted, a plan which goes horribly awry when they start sleeping together again.
The Ted and Robin sexual reconciliation doesn’t thrill Barney a great deal, as he’s suddenly realized that he’s in love with Robin. This could well have been a jump-the-shark moment for the series, were it not for the fact that, when you think about it, the two of them are actually pretty compatible. (Okay, maybe not for the long haul, but certainly for the short term.) Still, while Neil Patrick Harris does a nice job of bouncing back and forth between Awesome Barney and Lovesick Barney, it feels like the saga goes on way longer than it needs to.
In fairness, “How I Met Your Mother” was thrown a bit of a challenge in Season Four: the show’s female leads – Cobie Smulders (Robin) and Alyson Hannigan (Lily) – each came down with a nasty case of pregnancy. The resulting efforts to unabashedly try and hide their expanding bellies are funny enough, but it limited the characters’ interaction to a certain degree, which is perhaps why the stronger episodes tended to take place earlier in the season. “The Best Burger in New York” related Marshall’s quest to find… well, it’s obvious from the title what he was looking for, but the episode serves as a general reminder to everyone that it’s almost impossible to have anything live up to the perfection of your rose-colored memories. “The Naked Man” is an all-time classic episode about a dating maneuver that has to be seen to be believed, while “Three Days of Snow” is a sweet Marshall / Lily spotlight.
Season Four ends with Ted taking on a new challenge: teaching architecture at a local college. The big tease at the end of the finale? His kids’ mother is in his class. Okay, fine, maybe we do still watch the show to find out who Ted ends up with. But not just for that.
Special Features: There’s a Season Three recap for those who haven’t yet picked up the previous set, a quartet of commentaries spread out between Discs One and Two, a gag reel, and the video for “Barney Stinson: That Guy’s Awesome.” On Disc Three, we’re treated to a segment from a panel discussion with the cast and creators of the show, but despite a great ending which involves Neil Patrick Harris going to the bathroom with his mic on, it’s so clear that the panel has been edited down in a big way. Why couldn’t we get the whole thing?