September 24, 2013

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “How I Met Your Mother”


Every fan of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER came into tonight’s Season 9 premiere knowing three things.  This will be not just the ninth, but the final season of the series; last season’s finale introduced us, at long last, to the still-unnamed Mother (new regular Cristin Milioti); and the entire season will take place during the weekend of Barney’s (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) wedding in Farhampton, at the conclusion of which we know that Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) will finally meet his soulmate.

With those points, as far as we know, fixed in stone, it wasn’t clear how much opportunity for surprise the season was going to bring.  But series creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, who wrote the 1-hour premiere themselves, love their stylistic tricks, and they had a big one for the end of the episode:  with the magic of a flash-forward, we’ve now seen Ted and his love interacting, and it’s a gimmick likely to recur throughout the season, since we now know that exactly a year after the wedding, they visited the Farhampton Inn as a couple, inhabiting their own past, and thus may turn up anywhere during the weekend.  Thomas and Bays get to have their cake of ending the show with the two of them meeting and eat it too, and viewers who thought they would have to wait until May to see Ted and the Mother together only had to wait an hour.  Milioti, for her part, is already blending well into the cast, perhaps more comfortable and less sparks-flying than other women we’ve met through the last 8 seasons, but a good fit not just with Radnor but, in the premiere’s first half-hour, with Alyson Hannigan’s Lily, with whom she shared a neurotic ride on the train to Farhampton.

Apart from the epochal Mother scenes, this was a fairly routine HIMYM episode.  Marshall (Jason Segel) found himself marooned in Minnesota, where we left him last season, and is now apparently going to spend a chunk of the season driving Planes, Trains and Automobiles style cross-country with instantly antagonistic but good-hearted Daphne (Sherri Shepherd).  Barney and Robin have already survived two pre-wedding crises, first the unwarranted fear that they were distantly related, then learning that Barney’s brother James (Wayne Brady) is getting divorced, ending the one married relationship that Barney says (to Lily’s chagrin) he’s ever believed in.  One hopes that the season won’t spend too much time on Ted’s forlorn hope that Robin will give him one last chance–the fact that he secretly traveled to LA to find her lost locket may be a bad sign of episodes to come.  Give it up, Ted.  On the other hand, hopefully we’ll see plenty of Roger Bart as the Farhampton Inn desk clerk, and there was a terrific running gag where bartender Linus lived up to his $100 vow to always keep a drink in Lily’s hand.

How I Met Your Mother isn’t Breaking Bad; it doesn’t need to bowl us over for its final season to be a successful one.  It’s good to see the show, which has been mired for the past couple of seasons in circular plotting, taking some risks, and its charm and easy flow (most episodes, like the premiere, are directed by Pamela Fryman) are among the most reliably likable on the air.  As with any long-running, enjoyable show hitting its official home stretch, a fan’s plea to its makers is simple:  don’t screw it up.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."