How I Met Your Mother: Season One

For years now, CBS has continually led in the ratings war with crime investigations and reality television. A look at their roster of comedy programming though reveals a laughable lack of depth, with the shows they do air clearly designed to bring safe content to simple, hard-working Americans: Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Two and a Half Men — need I say more? How I Met Your Mother is the exception to that rule. Essentially the network’s stab at a contemporary sitcom, the show tells the tale of how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) fell in love back in the day. The twist is that it’s actually set 25 years into the future and Ted is telling each episode’s stories to his two uninterested teenage kids via quirky flashbacks of how he met his wife. It’s a smart concept that can have legs if executed wisely and for the most part, the first season succeeds in establishing a solid framework. The only real hitch, besides some wishy-washy jokes, is relative newcomer Radnor (a poor man’s Jonathan Silverman), who without his strong supporting cast would have sunk the show immediately. His puppy dog whining over the woes of single life is grating and there are only a handful of times throughout the season where he delivers a punch line confidently. Thankfully he’s in good, experienced company. Jason Segel (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared) and Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Pie) play Marshall and Lily, an affable couple who are responsible for the decent cliff-hanger in the finale; and Neil Patrick Harris is wonderful as Barney, the oversexed, superficial egotist who drops all of the best (and worst) one-liners, and unsurprisingly has become the show’s break-out star. Even the fresh-faced Cobie Smulders fulfils her duties admirably as the object of Ted’s affection, Robin. (Wisely the writers reveal that she is not the mother of Ted’s children but their aunt.) Perhaps the show’s strongest attribute is the wavering nature of the writers, who regularly combine PG humour with R-Rated situations. With a substandard star (albeit one who shows room for improvement) and some questionable writing, How I Met Your Mother isn’t quite there yet, but it’s filled with all sorts of promise, which has already made it the best sitcom on its conservative network. Plus: commentaries, featurettes. (Fox)