The latest project from Carter Bays and Craig Thomas ("American Dad", the underrated & cancelled Fox sitcom "Oliver Beene"), "How I Met Your Mother" adds a spin on the traditional romantic sitcom by offering the show's main tale in reverse. The series opens with an off-camera father (voiced by Bob Saget) telling his two irritated children the story of how he and their mother met. Not surprisingly, the kids wonder if they are being punished for some unknown broken rule.
In the present, Marshall (Jason Segel) has just proposed to girlfriend Lilly (Allison Hannigan, from the "American Pie" series), leading friend Ted (Josh Radnor) to realize that it's time he finally found the one for him. There has to be a fast-talking, womanizing pal pushing the main character, so here we get Barney (Neil Patrick Harris, who gets a good chunk of the best lines.) Shortly in, Ted believes that he's found the one in a local reporter named Robin (Cobie Smulders), although he may find that she doesn't see things quite the same way he does.
"Mother" is one of those increasingly rare sitcoms that works (and, even more rare, one that a network actually allowed to last for more than a few episodes.) The series clicks thanks to a stellar cast that has very good chemistry with one another. Hannigan is a highlight; while she gained fame via the "American Pie" movies, she's put to better use here and has good chemistry with Segel. Randor and Smulders also share a pleasant, warm chemistry together, as well.
The show's other positive is the writing, as while the show provides a few big laughs throughout the episode, the show's real plus is that it consistently throws out solid, smart laughs on a minute-by-minute basis (while it's great that the show is a success, admittedly its rhythm and flow works even a little better on DVD.) The show's one-liners and bits are presented with a casual, confident style that hooks the interest.
As good as the first season of the series was, "How I Met Your Mother" shows dramatic improvement in its second season. The cast seems even more comfortable with one another, but the writing is also taken to another level this time around, as the dialogue is even more quotable and the situations are funnier and more inspired. One particular highlight is "Slap Bet", an episode where it is revealed that Robin is hiding what is thought to be a deep, dark secret that, for whatever reason, has her hating malls.
When evidence is uncovered, she eventually has to confess: she was a Canadian pop singer named Robin Sparkles, whose number one hit was, "Lets Go to The Mall". The music video that follows is possibly one of the most priceless parodies of 80's teen pop I've ever seen. There is even a "My Space" page devoted to Robin Sparkles (see here: http://www.myspace.com/robinsparkles) When Marshall asks why it looks like the 80's and the video was made in the 90's, Robin replies, "The 80's didn't come to Canada till like '93."
Some of the other highlights include: "Lucky Penny" (Ted is late for a flight, and the episode flashes back to how it could have been the fault of the different members of the group); "Ted Mosby: Architect" (Robin finds out that Barney convinced Ted to try and pick up women using the fact he's an architect - but there's a twist); "World's Greatest Couple" (Barney lets Lily live in the "Fortress of Barnitude" if she promises to pretend to be his wife to scare off his one-night stands), "Swarley" (a harmless error leads to Barney adopting a new name against his will),
23. 2- 1 18 Sep 06 Where Were We?
24. 2- 2 25 Sep 06 The Scorpion and the Toad
25. 2- 3 2 Oct 06 Brunch
26. 2- 4 9 Oct 06 Ted Mosby: Architect
27. 2- 5 16 Oct 06 World's Greatest Couple
28. 2- 6 23 Oct 06 Aldrin Justice
29. 2- 7 6 Nov 06 Swarley
30. 2- 8 13 Nov 06 Atlantic City
31. 2- 9 20 Nov 06 Slap Bet
32. 2-10 27 Nov 06 Single Stamina
33. 2-11 11 Dec 06 How Lily Stole Christmas
34. 2-12 8 Jan 07 First Time In New York
35. 2-13 22 Jan 07 Columns
36. 2-14 5 Feb 07 Monday Night Football
37. 2-15 12 Feb 07 Lucky Penny
38. 2-16 19 Feb 07 Stuff
39. 2-17 26 Feb 07 Arrivederci, Fiero
40. 2-18 19 Mar 07 Moving Day
41. 2-19 9 Apr 07 Bachelor Party
42. 2-20 30 Apr 07 Showdown
43. 2-21 7 May 07 Something Borrowed
44. 2-22 14 May 07 Something Blue
VIDEO: "How I Met Your Mother" is presented by Fox in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The show once again looks reasonably good here, with sharpness and detail remaining pleasing throughout much of the running time. Aside from a couple of moments of visible artifacting, the picture appeared clean and clear, with no edge enhancement or other concerns. Colors looked bold and accurately presented throughout the show, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The show's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack doesn't put the surrounds to very much use at all, which is expected. The show's audio quality is quite pleasant, with crisp, clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: "Where Were We" offers audio commentary by show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and director Pam Fryman, while "Swarley" offers commentary by writer/producer Greg Mailins and cast member Alyson Hannigan. "Slap Bet" offers audio commentary by show creator Craig Thomas, writer Kourtney Kang and cast member Cobie Smulders, "Single Stamina" offers commentary by writer Kristin Newman and cast member Neil Patrick Harris, "Arrivederci Fiero" has audio commentary by writer Chris Harris and cast member Jason Segel, "Bachelor Party" has audio commentary by show creator Carter Bays, director Pam Fryman and cast members Bob Saget and Josh Radnor and finally, "Showdown" has audio commentary by show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and director Pam Fryman.
"How We Make Your Mother" is a 15-minute featurette that looks into the process of putting the show (in this case, the final episode of the season) together. We sit in at the table read for the episode and see the filmed footage in another window of the material. The meetings are particularly interesting to watch, as the writers chat about different ideas and even some studio notes. We then watch as scenes are filmed.
We also get deleted/alternate scenes, the "Hey, Beautiful" music video and the full video for "Lets Go to The Mall".
Final Thoughts: "How I Met Your Mother"'s second season sees the show becoming one of the strongest network sitcoms out there, as the writing is often hysterical and the actors have gotten more comfortable in their roles. The DVD set provides reasonably good video quality, fine audio and a very nice amount of extras. Highly recommended.