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Season Finale: How I Met Your Mother – “The Leap”

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“The Leap”

May 18th, 2009

“The trouble doesn’t seem so troubling”

As I was taking a look at a really enjoyable spec script for How I Met Your Mother last night, I was forced to consider the question of whether or not the show’s defining characteristics are necessary components of its success. The show is known, at this point, for its time-bending narratives, ridiculous life theories, and its continuity in regards to both tiny throwaway jokes and the eponymous question of the Mother’s identity, but are those qualities necessary to create a good episode of the series or, in the case of “The Leap,” a fitting season finale?

In many ways, “The Leap” isn’t an episode that relies heavily on HIMYM’s signature story-telling methods, but they’re all present in a way: it features some narrative shuffling designed to assist the dramatic end of its storyline, it uses the show’s own continuity to create another life theory, and the continuity of the four-legged farm animal mistakenly inserted into Ted’s Birthday last year makes an appearance. But, outside of a brief mention at episode’s end that promises yet again that we are closer than ever before to the identity of the Mother, the episode was not about Ted’s love life.

The result is, without question, a stronger finale than last season: Ted’s relationship with Stella was an element of the series that never quite worked, and I was worried a few weeks ago that it was going to rear its ugly head for the finale, creating drama where drama was not necessary. Instead, Ted ends up facing his dramatic arc of the season with a lady of another species, and the drama comes from the right place and, more importantly, at the right pace considering what has come before it. Combine with the return of Lily, and Marshall being Marshall, and this felt like vintage HIMYM without feeling as if they were relying too heavily on those broader signifiers.

They weren’t exactly stepping out on a ledge and leaping across a metaphorical alleyway with revolutionary plotting, but in many ways the finale felt more grounded as a result.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Woooo!”

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“Woooo!”

November 17th, 2008

Scoring its highest ratings since the season premiere, which were close to its series high levels, How I Met Your Mother has grown from a niche success to a bona fide comedy hit, scoring extremely impressive numbers in key demographics in particular. Whether it is the result of the recent stuntcasting trends, or just based on the show’s undeniable quality, How I Met Your Mother has in the span of only a year gone from a show fighting for its life to a show that CBS will be keeping around as long as possible to allow it to expand into syndication.

When that happens, I don’t really know if “Woooo!” is going to resonate very well as an episode of the series in terms of its broad strokes. While the titular expressions of happiness are, as the episode cleverly shows, veiled cries for help amidst a pool of self-pity, this episode lacks a certain level of depth that could help elevate it. The episode returns to the Barney and Marshall battle for Ted’s best friendship, but after last week delved into the question of parenthood this week we see very little on that level of character building.

Instead, what we get is an office in the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Strip Club in the Letter “N,” and let’s be clear: on that level, this was a very sharp and (when it repeats in syndication) thoroughly entertaining half hour.

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