March 21st, 2011
There is something hypocritical about the status of Barney Stinson as a character within How I Met Your Mother. On the one hand, he is the character who will change the least: because of his popularity, and because of the broad comedy the character is known for, Barney Stinson will never dramatically alter his behavior. And yet, at the same time, the character is uniquely positioned to engage with more emotional and transformative elements due to Neil Patrick Harris’ dramatic acting ability and the value of having a narcissistic character show signs of selflessness and vulnerability.
Ted Mosby is always on the verge of a dramatic life event, but is never allowed to reach that moment because it would fundamentally change the course of the series. However, because there are assurances that Barney’s essence will not be changed, he’s allowed to do what Ted is not: he’s allowed to meet his father, allowed to confront a potentially life-changing moment on a show which in its sixth season is largely resistant to fundamental change.
The result is a tremendous showcase for Neil Patrick Harris and John Lithgow, achieving an emotional complexity that has been absent from Ted’s story for what seems like a very long time without sacrificing the essence of the character. While there are some who remain frustrated with the lack of momentum on the eponymous story, the show’s sixth season has been quite effective in crafting stories about the other side of the parental coin that have really landed.
Even if they aren’t quite as transformative as Ted’s love life.
[As the Top 10 Comedy and Drama series contenders have been released, and since Gold Derby has been kind enough to grab us the episode titles, I’m going through each submission judging its quality and its potential on the panel. As I prepare to write about the second Comedy series in contention, you can check out some great Spy reports gathered by Tom O’Neill and Boomer over at Gold Derby (One, Two & Three).]
Episode: “The Day F*ckers”
Synopsis: With both lovelorn Eric (Struggling to get over his ex-girlfriend Sloan) and Turtle (Who’s never been very good with dating) in slumps, Vince and Drama turn their rush to get laid in a casual fashion into a contest; meanwhile, Ari (Jeremy Piven) struggles to get his son into a private school despite his poor reputation.
My Thoughts: I’ll let my thoughts back when the episode aired to do a bit of the talking for me, although I’ll break into further analysis after the break.
That’s not to say this was a terrible episode of Entourage; as far as these really light and inconsequential episodes go, this one wasn’t particularly awful. But it just had no purpose: Ari’s storyline has been drawn out and neither funny nor dramatic, Eric’s love life has never been entertaining (Although Sloan remains attractive), and Turtle and Drama’s antics were just as ludicrous as ever. The episode just kind of sat there, not doing anything except advance Eric’s love life that tiny little baby step forward.
And when reading over this, and watching the episode, I have to agree: in context of this race, the episode gets even worse.
[As the Top 10 Comedy and Drama series contenders have been released, and since Gold Derby has been kind enough to grab us the episode titles, I’m going through each submission judging its quality and its potential on the panel. Here’s the first Drama Series in contention, a nominee last year that looks to return.]
Boston Legal (ABC)
Episode: “The Court Supreme”
Synopsis: Having gained a reputation as a staunch opponent of the death penalthy, Alan Shore (James Spader) is approached by a young attourney whose client, a mentally disabled man from Louisiana convicted of raping a child, is appealing the death penalty at the highest level: the Supreme Court of the United States.
My Thoughts: There’s quite a few who are labeling this episode as Emmy bait, and they would not be wrong. For a show that is never afraid to quite literally throw its politics in the audience’s face, this goes even further than we’re used to. James Spader is likely to pick up his fourth Emmy for his performance here, and the show is more than likely guaranteed a nomination.
That doesn’t, however, mean I liked it.