Jan 15, 2015

[TV] How I Met Your Mother: Season 2

So Tobie and I were pretty late to the whole How I Met Your Mother thing for one reason or another, but better late than never, yes? We only got started on the show some time after the series ended and we've been randomly watching a few episodes when the mood strikes us. We're certainly enjoying the show, but it's not exactly priority watching.

This second season of the show certainly works on building up the back stories of the different characters. But it first had to resolve a lot of the major character shake-ups that defined the end of the first season. You certainly have to give the writers points for having the nerve to play around with their status quo in that manner.

It's interesting to note how this has really moved forward as an ensemble comedy as opposed to this being some sort of "Ted Mosby Show" or something along those lines. Things work when you have everyone involved and this season gave us more opportunities to explore various side-stories involving the different characters and then some.

Synopsis: How I Met Your Mother is a US television sitcom created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. Bob Saget is the voice of the narrator, who is an older version of Ted.

At the end of the first season, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) left to take an art fellowship in San Francisco. This has pretty much devastated Marshall (Jason Segel), and the season begins with Ted (Josh Radnor) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) trying to find ways to cheer him up. But when Marshall finds evidence that Lily is actually back in New York, it becomes a question of whether or not he should go to see her despite her reluctance to make contact.

The show also has Ted and Robin (Cobie Smuthers) really just being friends after all the ups and downs of the first season with Ted convinced that she was the one for him. They flip this around soon enough when Ted and Robin actually end up trying to be in a relationship together, but that's neither here nor there. And thus it felt a lot like the show shifted significantly towards revealing more of Barney's back story. This season introduced his gay brother James (Wayne Brady) along with really pushing his belief that his father is really Bob Barker.

This season established one of the more interesting pieces of continuity for the show that interestingly lingers - the slap bet. The ninth episode of the season with the same name establishes how the bet came to be and the interesting outcome. And the fact that this bet is literally for 5 slaps that the winner will administer to the loser at the time of his choosing, it makes for a fun moment to wait for in future episodes. Those 5 slaps are being doled out rather carefully over time instead of all in one rush in a few episodes, which feels like a stroke of brilliance on the part of the writers.

The slap bet ends up becoming part of the greater pattern of what makes the show so fun - these long-running gags that seem to have little to no care if the show could have gotten cancelled or not. The very premise of the show reflects this as audiences are constantly baited as to who might be the near-mythical mother that Ted is telling his kids about in the future. And those that pay attention end up feeling rather rewarded when the writers revisit old plot points and character stories to define future episodes.

The other major plot element for this season is obviously Lily and Marshall's wedding. Them getting back together after the quirky end of season one was never a question - the show establishes pretty firmly that the two are an amazing team. It was just a question of how long it would take them to get back together and when they'd finally tie the not. There are a few scares throughout the season of them jumping the gun, but the decision to wrap up the season in this manner was a bit of a surprise to me. Then again, it also means advancing their story from college sweethearts to a happily married couple, so it still works.

In hindsight, this season really had a lot of Barney, which I suppose reflects the popularity of the character. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since it was usually about pairing him with someone else (like when Lily tried to live with him during the break-up), but I guess it makes up for how one-dimensional he was in the first season. Still a fun solid romp for the most part.

The second season of How I Met Your Mother was still a lot of fun and there are some great laughs to be had. The show really depends on the strength of its characters and their relationships with one another and the clever writing just helps things along. So this season gets 4 possible slaps out of a possible 5.

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