Monday, January 11, 2010

'How I Met Your Mother' turns 100 - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I look at the "How I Met Your Mother" 100th episode musical extravaganza:
The 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" showcases many of the things that's made it one of the most entertaining sitcoms of recent years. But it also showcases why it can be really frustrating, too.
You can read the full "How I Met Your Mother" review here.

Near the end, I strongly hint at a development that gets mentioned within the episode's first five minutes, but there's a warning before that if you want to go in pristine. (I would just also advise you to avoid the comments here.)

Since I don't have a lot to say about "Girls vs. Suits" beyond what's expressed in the column (and since I'm too occupied at press tour to double dip), I'm going to bump this post up tonight around 8:30 Eastern (assuming I'm near a computer then), so you can comment on it here.

UPDATE: Bumped. What did everybody else think?

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

The HIMYM writers need to stop with the motherteasing. Nobody really cares as long as we've got Barney and Friends. Recognize.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I'm saying this, but HIMYM needs to take a page out of the Prison Break handbook. Granted, that show went totally off the rails after a while, but they ended the first season with the actual prison break and didn't drag it out for 4 seasons simply because that was the title of the show. And I think people would have felt a little cheated if we'd just seen everyone break out and not seen at least a little of the aftermath. That's how I feel about Ted finally meeting the mother. After all of this build up I'd like to actually get to know her a little and not just have her be some random face we really know nothing about.

Αλέξανδρος said...

@anonymous
You know you are talking about a show that felt the need to have it's protagonist locked up in a SECOND facility during the show's run just because the name of the show was psidon break, right?
I mean, PB is my go-to example of a TV series that should have been a miniseries..

Anonymous said...

Well, like I said that show went totally off the rails. But even if it had been a mini-series I think had it ended with them running through a field with Fox River in the background it would have been a huge letdown. They needed at least a little bit of aftermath of the actual break. I think it's the same thing with the mother. After all this time if Ted just bumps into some random girl and says "And THAT'S how I met your mother" followed by a fade to black I don't think that will be AT ALL satisfying.

Αλέξανδρος said...

I completely agree about the aftermath. Sometimes it's more gripping than the actual "event".
The Prison Break analogy was a little off...

Tracey said...

Actually, the whole song-and-dance promos made me think of the Drew Carey show with more photogenic stars...

The series as a whole has a problem with Gilligan's Island syndrome: it's frustrating that they can't get off the island, but if they get off the island, then you wouldn't have a series. But I think Alan had the right idea of how to handle that in his column: meet the mother already, and then spend a few days incorporating her into the gang, working up to the proposal, maybe end the series with the marriage. The writers need to understand that, unlike Gilligan's Island, finding out who the mother is isn't really the primary source of interest in this series.

jasctt said...

Are Robin and Barney back together yet? Let me know when they are and maybe I'll watch another ep.

Craig Ranapia said...

I can't disagree with anything you've written, but I'm inclined to cut Josh Radnor a bit of slack. He's in the position as Johnny Galecki on Big Bang Theory: It's almost as thankless a task being the stright man, as it is trying to write for one.

Jessica said...

Nobody really cares as long as we've got Barney and Friends.

Well, of course, the problem with throwing around words like "nobody" and "we" is that someone is sure to point out that they're not included in that "nobody" or "we". Not everyone agrees that more Barney is necessarily a good thing. He's a great, attention-getting supporting character, but too much is too much. Some of us are actually here for the whole ensemble and all the plots, including (even especially) Ted and the mother-hunt.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Again, no time for a full episode review, but I will say that I agree with Barney: everyone looks good in a suit. Even Cobie and Alyson.

Curious to see everyone's feelings about finally seeing The Mother's foot. If nothing else, I guess we know she's not African-American now.

erin said...

I didn't find a lot of it to be laugh-out-loud funny (although I did chuckle at Barney nuzzling Marshall's suit, and I liked the Tim Gunn cameo). The mother makes me tired, but i guess this was as clever as they could do it. I was thinking they'd spring her on us, which I thought would be pretty gutsy (what if we hate her!) but i guess they can still introduce her to see how the audience feels about her, then add in those other details. It's just a little too cutesy for me, even for this show. Get on with it already!

I've laughed more at other HIMYM shows, so that's disappointing for the 100th episode.

Annie T. said...

I can take or leave the whole mother situation, at least it give Josh Radnor something to do. The highlight of the episode for me was the musical number and Tim Gunn. I'm glad he portrayed himself instead of acting as a character, because Tim Gunn is just naturally funny.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also funny? The rhyming section.

Ben said...

Yes, the mother lover part needs to stop or at least change direction. We have heard the little engine that could speech from Ted plenty.

As always, Barney was rockin and rollin and what not.

mck said...

I agree with your review and was majorly disappointed. What a waste of Rachel Bilson! Loved Tim Gunn though. Hope he can somehow become a recurring character.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just weary of the twists and turns of the Mother Meeting, but I had a strange thought during this episode. While Ted catalogued all the Mother coolness and pointed out where such and such an item was in his 2030 house, I suddenly wondered why is Ted telling this story to his kids and why are they listening so intently? Where is their Mother?
And then I invented a whole tragic backstory (or forwardstory, if you wish) involving the Mother and, oh, I don't know, zombies in suits or some terminal illness.
If I'm contemplating the death of a character before we even meet her, something is wrong here.

I know, its probably me.

Puff

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the musical number and didn't mind the episode as a whole but I really wanted Rachel Bilson to be the mother. At this point the writer's have hyped the mother up so much that she kinda has to be someone we, the viewer, know and love and I think Bilson is a very likable person and would have fit well into the show. And it probably could have been do-able (filming wise) with whatever her schedule is because tonight's episode would have been their first date. It's not like she would have had to become a full time cast member right away!

Anyway, clearly I'm a little disappointed that Rachel Bilson is not the mother. That's all. Still love the show!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alan.
totally agree.

i'm at the point where i am more engrossed with when Marshall will use his last slap than who actually is the mother!

Alison D said...

I agree with the review, particularly around the "mother" question. I think one of the problems with it is that it's hard to invest in any of Ted's romantic adventures when you know that they will all end badly. I think, on the whole, that's a worse situation than the issue of "we know this ends well" if they reveal the mother. The only other alternative - the "Stella" solution of introducing a girlfriend and leaving ambiguous the q of whether she is the mother is difficult within the voiceover framework - because it means he is teasing not just us, but his kids, which gets irritating real fast.

So add my vote to the "introduce her already" camp: yes, it means ending the serial dating stories for Ted, but Robyn and Barney provide plenty of scope for that. One of the things I like about the show is they show some awareness that, given the characters are moving into their 30s, the vibe has to slowly change anyway (thinking about kids, careers etc.) If at 35, the characters are still in the same place as they were at 28, it'll feel more worrying than fun.

srpad said...

Can give or take the Mother. I also kind of hope that she is introduced at the end of the series because the show is so balanced now I am afraid adding the Mother would spoil the Chemistry and once they choose one they are stuck.

Loved this episode. My favorite part: Marshall being out of step when they were all dancing in the musical number.

Anonymous said...

What if Ted were to meet the mother sometime this or next season and then say "but it took another year before we saw each other again and started dating." It would put and end to the mother search, but they wouldn't have to actually deal with the relationship until the show was closer to its actual end.

Brandy said...

Eh, I could care less one way or the other about the Mother. If we met the Mother before the end of the series we'd have to spend more time with Ted. Since Ted's fruitless search for the mother gives us more time for Barney, Marshal, Lily and Robin... I'm pretty good with Ted waiting another 5 years to find the mother.

Still, Rachel Bilson is adorable. Sorry it wasn't her.

Anonymous said...

So that slap tonight doesn't count? Marshall's palm did come in contact with Barney's face in a slapping motion.

And roommate?

Jennifer said...

Oh, Ted, you and your wacky psychic powers!

Well, they definitely set it up in this episode: Ted can't date ANY students whatsoever, so by the time he meets the mother, he won't be able to date her until she graduates. Nice move, show. That'll drag out the sexual tension for another season!

That said, still wish Rachel Bilson was the mother by now.

Blair Waldorf said...

Lately, I've been watching a lot of old episodes of the O.C. on SoapNet, and I had higher hopes for Ms. Bilson. Her character wasn't that cool and she wasn't the mother. Rachel Bilson could have been a great girlfriend or mother. This is really getting annoying.

Barney in t-shirts was really disorienting.

Loved the musical number.

Mike said...

I thought this was the third straight strong episode; I loved "The Window" and "Last Cigarette Ever," and the only thing that is preventing me from loving this episode is the mother-frustration. Rachel Bilson would have been perfect -- she's sweet and likable, her character appeared to be as nerdy as Ted, and she looks enough like the kids that it wouldn't seem like a stretch for them to be her children.

I really hope they introduce the mother by the end of this season -- enough's enough already.

The song rocked, and makes me hungry for a "Dr. Horrible" sequel.

Mike said...

I agree with the person upthread who speculated that The Mother is dead in the year 2030. I've long suspected that the reason future-Ted feels it necessary to give this incredibly long narration is because of future-Mother's death, precluding her from being able to tell her children about the courtship.

Does anyone know if the toy bus has always been behind the children, or was that something they are trying to retcon into the show?

ithor6 said...

I guess I'm in the minority. I loved this episode, the whole thing. I actually really like the way they are progressing toward the mother, especially the yellow umbrella callback. I do hope they resolve it by the end of this season, while I've liked the progress so far, I think my breaking point is Stella's husband's movie premier in May.

Anonymous said...

It could still be Rachel Bilson - her roommate might be her twin sister. I think that may be what they're playing at.

Allison DeWitt said...

I'm too easy or just a contrarian but I like a little romance so I don't mind the actual "Mother" storyline. I love the quirkiness of the roommate.

The ensemble cast is part of what I really like about the show, also - so I like more of a balance over a Barneyathan.

The musical number was fantastic.
I've got to see that, again.

Farrah said...

Did anyone else like the Chuck version of Rachel Bilson better than Mother's? It was probably the multi-episode arc, but I think Lou was better written than Cindy.

Farrah said...

PS kinda unrelated, love the new logo, I am so excited about Chuck being back I put my organizational management class reading on hold.

Henry said...

The episode was okay, as is the usual course when stuff with the Mother is involved. I really liked the musical number at the end and was a little disappointed it was the only one. Here's hoping Bays and Thomas go to that well again.

I honestly didn't really like how Ted goes around the fringes of the Mother's aspects. Sure, it's good to know that she's somewhat quirky (singing showtunes whilst making breakfast), but the Mother's attributes suffered from the timeless adage in show business of "show don't tell." This method of storytelling with the Mother while dragging out her appearance is only gonna drive the show's audience against the Mother once she makes her appearance. And, as has been said before, it minimized Bilson's appearance in this episode (I actually thought to myself in frustration after Ted dropped by, "Well, is ANYTHING in the apartment hers?!")

Anyway, I'm focusing more on the Mother being in a band. Never really saw Ted being with a rocker chick. That should be interesting, although it might be strange if he ends up with someone random like Kelly Clarkson or something.

Andrew said...

The stuff with Barney was awesome and (wait for it) legendary, but the mythology-heavy stuff with Ted (particularly the Bob Saget-voiced elder Ted) searching for his future wife isn't nearly as much fun, because it's just so teased out. Yes, I know the show is titled "How I Met Your Mother" and it's nice that the 100th episode does get Ted a step closer to actually meeting the mother, but it does so many other things so well (NPH and Segel singing!) that dragging out meeting the mother is as frustrating for us as for the TV kids.

It's great to see this show hit 100 episodes, since there isn't one that I relate to any more!

Word verification: chinship. Is that what Jay Leno sails to work?

Anonymous said...

Completely agree about the stylistic influence of Seinfeld on HIMYM, which is something I've been posting comments to this blog about for years: e.g., "If anything, the heavy emphasis [in HIMYM] on things like dating rules and catchphrases reminds me more of Seinfeld than of Friends. 6:31 AM, April 26, 2006"

In fact, I think the more cerebral approach of HIMYM is part of the reason why it's never been a big hit-- which isn't a criticism, btw, since that spirit of comedic experimentation is one of the most interesting things about the show (though it does result in many HIMYM moments that are more clever than they are funny).

oz

dez said...

That musical number made the whole ep for me.

I hope the mother isn't the Rachel Bilson character's twin sister because I didn't feel any chemistry between Bilson and Radnor. I don't think they need a name actress for the role, either. Just find someone who has chemistry with Radnor and the rest of the cast and go from there.

Funny that my captcha "stease" has a tease in it...just like tonight's show!

Question Mark said...

I was waiting for a punchline on the 'Marshall finds every woman less attractive than Lily' subplot.

Tyroc said...

I thought it was pretty bad.

Rachel Bilson was her usual charming self, so I don't blame her, more Radnor for bringing out the worst in his cutesy acting to the role again.

The "suit up" joke was my least favorite of the pilot, and it's always bugged me that it's become such a part of the show, so it was hard to enjoy the storyline (for NPH singing in a much better musical, check out his work in the animated "Brave and the Bold." Much better lyrics, too.)

And I thought the "hot" bartender was attractive enough I guess, but not a strong comedic actress (at least in this part.) Plus, Wendy the Waitress who also works there and you would think would sometimes be behind the bar, is MUCH hotter, and Charlene Amoia a much stronger comedic actress. A storyline where she started working the bar and that's when Barney first notices her and thinks she's hot would have been much funnier for me. (As part of the circumstantial hotness idea. Which was the only clever part of the storyline.)

Sorry to be a grump but the episode was a real disappointment and for me brought out the worst in the series. Seriously, "Oh look we saw her foot!" After 100 episodes, that's all we get?

Jonathan said...

@farrah lou definitely was written as a better, more likable character for bilson. very sad she is not the mother.

Rinaldo said...

I agree with Jessica that authoritative-sounding declarations about what "nobody" wants or what "we" want are dangerous, because... well, look at the diverse opinions even among the responders here.

As for me, I like the "just the gang" stories and I like the stories that inch us closer to the mother. This one was a decisive step toward that goal, the biggest we've had, and I remain confident that the producers know what they're doing in the long term.

Which is not to say I love every writing decision. I could have lived without Barney's musical number -- and I love NPH and his musical skills. But the excuse for him to be singing here felt even flimsier than the old Dick Van Dyke "the cast shows off its musical talents" episodes that used to annoy me but at least had a plausible excuse for existing within the fictional world.

erin said...

Farrah, I'm with you. i liked the edge Bilson had on Chuck, and thought she was a little bland on HIMYM (which makes sense if it was only for one episode). Sweet is fine, but the rest of the characters have a lot of zing, so I want the mother to as well. but i definitely think she looks the part, and is a better fit than sarah chalke.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Having never seen Bilson in anything before, I'm flummoxed by how much people seem to have enjoyed her breathy, quasi-lisping delivery. She's so small and so oddly proportioned Ted's scenes with her made him look like he was trying to pick up a 14-year-old.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Tyroc thinking that Wendy the Waitress is hotter than Stacy Freaking Kiebler. I mean, seriously?

Jon88 said...

Can we can it already with the voiceover "not" jokes? Something happens, and Saget's forced to give a punch line that's nothing more than a negation. These are ... not jokes.

forg/jecoup said...

Very impressive episode. I like the build up of the mother. It was nicely done. I really don't mind when they plan to introduce her, I completely trust the writers. Some people are impatient haha. I love the teases. But if they plan to introduce the mother I was hoping they put a twist on it, has anyone seen the movie DEFINITELY, MAYBE? I think HIMYM could take note on that movie's style with regards to the mother

My laugh out loud moment was when Barney was enumerating the kinds of girls she slept with

And the musical number was mesmerizing

Anonymous said...

Alan, we could have guessed that she wasn't African-American having seen her kids...Also, the love story told-but-not-shown between Ted and her is really weird: have the writers ever heard the expression "it's not what you like it's what you're like as a person"? They already went down that road at the end of the first season, and Ted realized that it didn't mean anything.

Dave T said...

her roommate might be her twin sister. I think that may be what they're playing at.

In that case, wouldn't she have identified the toys as being her "sister's" rather than her roommate's? I think she would also have more greatly resented guys falling for a sister over her, rather than just a roommate.

Hannah Lee said...

I thought last night’s show was entertaining enough, and the musical number was cool way to have fun in the 100th episode. But, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should, given that I’ve loved the show since S1. And that made me realize my enjoyment of the show has been down all season.

It has nothing to do with the mother. As long as when she shows up she's well cast and well written, I don't care who she is or when she shows up.

The real issue for me this year has been the characters.

- Lily and Marshall have been pretty one noted. They’re all mugging and funny voices, rather than the quirky, sometimes over the top, but semi-realistic characters from prior seasons.

- Robin has been MIA, spending a lot of time sitting at McLaren’s smiling and nodding, and acting like she’s undergone a total personality transplant ever since she made The Leap. (e.g. original flavor Robin would have been awesome paired with Barney, even if they crashed and burned eventually. She never would have gotten into a typical TV relationship fight about her dislike of strip clubs. I think the writers missed a huge opportunity for a fun, funny, non-traditional relationship there.)

Ted has been Ted and Barney has been Barney, but the show is an ensemble and really needs all 5 characters to make it work.

aaron | be awesome instead said...

First off, I don't think the reveal of the mother is the whole point of the show anymore...I think the show has grown so much further than that. I mean obviously, it's important, but all the mythology is pretty useless until we have a face to put with it. Otherwise they are just more teaser clues.

I really don't get how some could not have loved this episode! It had the main focuses of the show! Mother mythology with Ted and Barney being Barney! There coudl have been a bit more Marshall, Lily and Robin but they all were exactly who they have always been. Robin was slightly insecure but proved situational hotness well. Lily was sex obsessed. Marshall was the devoted husband who didn't even want to notice the hot bartender because how how much he loves his wife... Plus the musical love song to his suits, which was hilarious.

All that to say, I thought the episode was great and whether they introduce the mother or not, I hope they make 100 more!

Steve said...

Maybe it's me, but this season hasn't clicked as well as the first few seasons. That said, I loved the ridiculous over-the-top musical number at the end because it was the 100th episode killed me. It was also a great nod to Dr. Horrible.

I knew Rachel Bilson wouldn't be the mother, but I won't complain that she and Stacey Kiebler were on the show.

I would LOVE it if at some point in the show, future Ted narrates
"And THAT is how I met your mother. That cold-hearted, irrational bitch of a mother." And from there, the show could go in a direction of how horrible of a mistake he made or something.

Steve said...

I can't remember if there was any indication in previous episodes/seasons that Ted married their mother or had a long relationship with them.

Is it still a possibility that it was a one-night stand?

Steve said...

*with her, not them

Billiam said...

The show has found some pretty great actresses to play not-mothers (Ashley Williams, Sarah Chalke, and now Rachel Bilson): I hope they are able to top them when they do cast the mother.
Personally, I don't mind the motherteasing: to me that's just part the game that they have set up for us. As long as it still has plenty of laughs/pathos, I'm fine with it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I was falling asleep, but what was the part about the umbrella? When ted left it by accident at Cindy's apt, did he not say something like 'at least your mother would get her umbrella back" ? Wasn't there a past episode with a yellow umbrella?

Anonymous said...

Can't believe no one else has said this year -- I believe Lily's lines were mostly filler...

Add me as disappointed that Rachel Bilson wasn't the mother. I'd also like to just meet her already.

Jonah said...

This was a great episode. I was very worried once I realized Cindy wasn't the mother, but the episode took us so close to her that it was worth enduring the writers taunting us. I laughed out loud at some of the Saget lines, which was odd.

I disagree with the people who despised Ted's plot. I found it much more interesting than the Barney plot, with the obvious exception of the Suit song, which was...wait for it... awesome.

Anonymous said...

Frank. Lloyd. Wright. Enough said.
Ted can be awesome, come on, people.

Anonymous said...

In that case, wouldn't she have identified the toys as being her "sister's" rather than her roommate's? I think she would also have more greatly resented guys falling for a sister over her, rather than just a roommate.

I think there was resentment enough (e.g. she's a whore). As for 'sister's', in real world logic I agree, but we're playing with tv logic. Mainly the argument for twin sister is that Baycarter love to headfake the audience and what better way than to have the fans say Bilson is not the mother for the next time they get her to guest. Sometimes HIMYM like to play the tropes. Twins -> Mistaken Identity -> Hilarity ensues.

Matt said...

Alan, I need a little help. Barney said here that he'd never bagged a hot bartender. Yet I seem to remember in "The Platinum Rule" that he indeed hooked up with the previous girl of McLarens, almost forcing the group to find another bar. Am I mis-remembering, or is this a bit of ret-con on Thomas and Bays' part?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, Wendy the Waitress is, as the character name suggests, a waitress. Subtle but important distinction.

dez said...

Maybe I was falling asleep, but what was the part about the umbrella? When ted left it by accident at Cindy's apt, did he not say something like 'at least your mother would get her umbrella back" ? Wasn't there a past episode with a yellow umbrella?

He found it awhile ago and mentioned it belonged to the mother, plus we've seen it in several other eps. When he forgot it at Cindy's, that meant the mother got it back.

Anonymous said...

Now here's an idea...(even though I'm so late to the party)

Ted "meets" the mother before the season finale, but she completely blows him off, or he isn't at first attracted to her. While it's been revealed that this woman ends up being the mother, the hook then becomes "how does Ted actually land the mother" or even better "how does Ted actually come to falling in love with the mother." For a guy like Ted--who too easily falls in love--I think it'd be an interesting turn which could provide ample material for the show to continue if he doesn't immediately fall for the mother, as everyone is expecting him to do. And they don't even need to insert this woman into the group, in fact, I think that'd be a bad idea as it could potentially destroy 5 years of solid chemistry, but moreso, a better direction could be to keep having Ted bump into this woman, or what not.

The kids are obvious interested to hear the story of how Ted meets the mother, but I'm sure they (and we--the tiresome audience) would be just as intrigued by the story of how Ted actually comes to wind up with her. I doubt we'd hold it against Carter/Bays if they took this route despite the inconsistency with the running title.