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Featured TV on DVD Review: How I Met Your Mother: Season Five

September 19th, 2010

How I Met Your Mother: Season Five - Buy from Amazon

How I Met Your Mother started with a simple premise. In the year 2030, an unseen father tells his two kids the story of how he met his mother, a story that has taken five years to tell, so far. With probably two more seasons to go before we finally get a resolution, can this premise still hold the viewers attention? Or can the show survive without this premise as the focus?

The Show

The answer to that is yes and no, but not in that order.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

There are five main characters in the show, starting with Ted (Josh Radnor), the unseen father in the premise. At the beginning of the season he becomes a professor at a university and after a rocky start settles in and starts dating a woman who could be the mother of his kids, but likely not. Barney Robin (Cobie Smulders) started a relationship last season and it continues this season. It lasts about as long as you would expect. (Actually, it lasted a little bit longer that you would expect, and longer than it should have. It's a storyline that runs out of steam very quickly.) Lily and Marshall are still married, leaving Ted as the third wheel (fifth wheel) in a number of situations. In fact, in this season he almost becomes a supporting character in what should be his show. Ted is the I in How I Met Your Mother, after all.

That said, Ted's search for his future wife (or at the very least, the mother of his future kids) is among the least compelling stories on the show. It didn't take long for me to no longer care about the main premise of the show, and when it ends in two years (that's an educated guess, not inside information) we could never even learn who this mystery woman is. "And that kids, it how I won The Pritzker Architecture Prize." "I thought you were telling us about how you met our mother?" "Oh right. I guess I got sidetracked." )

There's a lot of potential here and many times the writers and cast find the humor in the situations. However, there is also a serious issue with wackiness overload. A lot of sitcoms use wacky characters as a shortcut to humor. And indeed, using an unusual format can emphasize the humor. (My recent review of Modern Family can attest to that.) Here, it feels like a crutch. Additionally, there is a ton of stunt casting this season (Jennifer Lopez, Peter Bogdanovich, Michael York, Jason Lewis, Chris Kattan, Judy Greer, Malin Akerman, Eva Amurri, etc.). On the one hand... Are you kidding me? On the other hand, this has actually been a trend right from the beginning, so it can't be used as a sign that the writers are running out of ideas, but it still feels like a crutch.

How I Met Your Mother is a better than the average sitcom, which is not a very strong compliment, given how many bad sitcoms there are. Fans of sitcoms in general or of some of the cast in particular will want to check it out, but it doesn't have the replay value it should have given the talent involved.

The Extras

There is an audio commentary track on disc one for the episode Duel Citizenship, while there are two audio commentary tracks on two episodes, Girls Versus Suits and The Prefect Week, and feature a variety of cast members, as well as the creative forces.

Over on disc three, there are nine minutes of bloopers, mostly blown line and ad libs, and there are four music videos, including one called Series Recap. There's a short making of featurette for the "Super Date" music video. It's wasn't that complex of a shot; okay, it was more complex than most sitcoms, but nothing that needed a making of featurette. There's an extended trailer for the Wedding Bride pseudo-movie. Finally, there is an 9-minute featurette on the show's 100th episode, Girls Versus Suits.

I'm not particularly thrilled with the selection of extras found here. Three audio commentary tracks is not bad, while there are plenty of outtakes. However, the rest is too short to be of much value.

The Verdict

How I Met Your Mother doesn't live up to its potential, and by Season Five the main premise feels almost like an afterthought. There are still enough laughs that fans should be satisfied, but it is starting to feel tired.

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