Monday, April 10, 2006

How Ted blew it

Since I'm still watching "24" and "Prison Break," "How I Met Your Mother" (or, as I'm increasingly calling it, "HIMYM") gets to fly solo this morning -- just as Ted wound up last night.

Sooner or later, the writers were going to have to fill in the hole they'd dug themselves into with Ted and Robin. On the one hand, Future Ted had definitively said that she wasn't his Future Wife. On the other hand, there was undeniable chemistry between the actors, and Ted himself was always much more interesting with Robin than without her.

So after building up a case of Permanently Unresolved Sexual Tension, the writers had to come up with a plausible reason why these two kooky lovebirds couldn't make it work. And I think they did as good a job as they possibly could -- sure as hell better than, say, that dumbass list that scotched the first Ross 'n Rachel get-together on "Friends." By lying to Robin about being broken up with Victoria, Ted fucked up, and he fucked up in a way that would take a long time, if ever, to recover from in the real world.

And now, hopefully, we're done with this. Again, I like the two characters together, but it's manifestly not meant to be, and any more time spent dicking around with a will-they-or-won't-they scenario would just be stupid. Just move on. It's already obvious to everyone that the show is funniest when it's focused on some combination of Barney, Marshall and Lily (with or without Korean Elvis), and Robin and Ted can be funny to varying degrees so long as they're not pining for each other. So now that we've 100% established that this Love That Cannot Die did, in fact, die, it's time to move on.

And there's a very good show there, even without it. Because Bays and Thomas don't come from sitcom backgrounds, these episodes don't feel like standard sitcom stuff, even with the laughtrack. I like all the time cuts and use of music and other structural tweaks, and I obviously like all the people. So let's see what the show becomes now that, hopefully, we can put the error at the end of the pilot behind us.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Alan. Don't you think it's interesting that the majority of dramas "on the bubble" are teen shows? OC, One Tree Hill, Veronica Mars, Everwood etc. Is this the end of the genre?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Teen shows come and go in cycles. It's harder to keep an audience interested, since the majority of it tends to be the age of the characters or younger, and within a year or two they get bored with it and move on to something else. Plus, it's just hard to keep teen-centric stories interesting, especially since you have to contrive to keep the characters together even after high school.

I figure OC will probably be back, Veronica will almost certainly get one more shot with the CW, and the CW as a whole will have enough of a WB flavor (even if OTH and Everwood both go) that teen dramas aren't about to vanish.

Anonymous said...

Veronica isn't such a lock anymore. I would like to see it come back - though I feel like this season has been not as great as Season 1. One Tree Hill could take its spot. Chad Michael Murray keeps marrying people to stay in the spotlight. But can you imagine if OTH took VMs spot? That would be an outrage.

Maybe VM can go on the N network or ABC family. Those two places are more likely to launch the next wave of teen shows.

And how excited are you for the 3rd season of Laguna Beach???

Alan Sepinwall said...

The ratings for Veronica have stunk lately, but from conversations I've had with people who will be working high up at the CW, I'm reasonably confident it will be back. This is a network that needs to establish some kind of identity with both viewers and the creative community, and renewing Veronica helps that.

Now, if it struggles come fall, CW execs can shrug and say, "Well, we gave it many more chances than the numbers merited, including a much better timeslot, but viewers never found it. Sorry."

Laguna Beach? Gah. I loved reading all those lengthy think pieces about the show in the NY Times last season, where the writer (presumably assigned to do it by an editor whose kid loves the show) struggled to come up with a reason for the show's success other than the fact that kids love watching rich, pretty people. Everytime I give the show another chance to see if there's something I'm missing, I regret wasting my time on it. There's no there there.

Tosy And Cosh said...

They talked at the Museum of Television and Radio appearance about how they produce the show. NOT filmed in front of a live audience given the number of spilt/screen effects, quick scenes and other things they do, but filmed with three cameras like a traditional sitcom. The laugh track is authentic, derived from a live audience that sees the edited show on screen like a movie.

I saw the episode in bits and had to rewatch the whole thing later. At first, I missed the whole "Ted's Mom said nothing good happens after two AM thing" so at the end when narrator Ted said he should have listened to his Mom, I thought he was referring to Lily and that he was calling her the kids' Mom. Very confused for a minute.

I have a lot moore tolerance than you for the Ted/Robin tension and suspect heavily that it ain't going away. Either way, to drop it completely after that episode would seem strange, dontcha think?

Anonymous said...

I agree with T+C-- there's no way "Ted and Robin" is going away any time soon. Hard to see how either can emotionally move on to another relationship until they have one with each other first. What's future Ted going to say: "so kids, the moral of this story is don't screw up your one chance with the woman you really love, because then you might wind up with a shrew like your mother?"

Anonymous said...

I personally think the "Robin is not your mom" decision is brilliant! They have the option of having them have a relationship sometime during the run, but at the same time, they don't have to figure out how to keep them at arms length past the point of reason until the "series finale." It was the constantly moving goalposts that, IMHO, killed Ross and Rachel (and Scully/aliens, and...).

Anonymous said...

Yeah ... hate to disappoint you, Alan, but the Ted-Robin thing is not going away just yet (for reals). I mean, come on, we still have sweeps to get through.

That said, I've not been all that bothered by their back-and-forth. In a way, knowing the end has made the will they-won't they a little less tedious, because it opens up other possibilities: Maybe they won't, maybe they will for a while, and then they won't.

It was nice to see Ashley Williams last night too.

Anonymous said...

I agree - it's not going away, but I believe that knowing from the first episode that they DON'T end up together is a really interesting twist. I like how the writers have dealt with their relationship so far, and agree that there needed to be some sort of really bad situation, and really liked last night's episode. But there's no way this is the end of Ted and Robin's flirtation. I suspect we'll see that the rest of the season is Ted just trying to get them back to being friends again.

But could we please never, ever see again the "switched cell phones" plot device? That was telegraphed from a mile away.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You guys are probably all right about Ted/Robin continuing, at least for the rest of this season.

I'm just so f'ing sick of Unresolved Sexual Tension in all its TV forms, and the twist that we know in advance that this one won't work out in the long run doesn't excite me enough to want to see this continue. But I appear to be in the minority, at least on my own blog. How the hell did that happen?

Tosy And Cosh said...

I'm now guessing that Robin and Ted will get together, and that a lot of the series' tension will come from the audience's looking out for what will keep them apart. What's so interesting about the whole thing to me is that I think they now have to do the OPPOSITE of what writers in these situations ususally have to do. Usually they have to come up with reasons to keep two people the audience knows belong together (Jim and Pam, Ross and Rachel, Niles and Daphne) apart--which after time can become strained. If they go where I'm thinking they will, they'll have to come up with a convinving reason to push a couple that is together, and that seems to belong together, apart. THAT would be an interesting dynamic.

Anonymous said...

i think the best way o keep them apart is that robin cant have babys

ted wants to have kid he needs to have kids

think about that tho i would like to see them end up togeather

but there is no way they fucked that up wih the pilot