September 25, 2012




WHERE WE WERE:  At the intersection of several major events.  Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) had just had their baby; Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) had just gotten engaged to ex-stripper Quinn (Becki Newton); and Ted (Josh Radnor), having re-met old flame Victoria (Ashley Williams) on what was supposed to be her wedding day, was running away with her.  Plus we were finally given a key piece of series mythology:  the wedding at which Ted will finally meet “mother” is actually going to be the nuptials of Barney and Robin (Cobie Smulders).

WHERE WE ARE:  Just where we left off.  The season premiere, written by series creators Carter Bays & Craig Thomas, and directed by Executive Producer Pam Fryman, intercut between Lily and Marshall’s apartment, where the two of them are trying to stay awake while both taking care of newborn Marvin and keeping in mind that they mustn’t let Quinn know that Barney and Robin are exes, and Farhampton, where in the show’s “present” Ted is worrying that it would be rude for Victoria to leave her fiancee without at least a note.  In the show’s trademark fashion, we also get a tantalizing glimpse of “future” Ted in Farhampton for the Barney/Robin wedding, where we see a woman with a guitar and yellow umbrella whose face, of course, is not shown.

We’ve been going at this for 8 years now, and it’s unclear (due to ongoing contract negotiations) whether this will be the final season for HIMYM in which all is finally revealed, or whether everything will be extended for an additional 9th season.  Although Bays and Thomas are expert sitcom Scheherazades, spinning their tale out endlessly, in truth it’s getting a little more difficult to stay on the ride with quite the same level of enthusiasm.  In the instance of this episode, we already know that Barney/Quinn and Ted/Victoria won’t ultimately be couples, and it becomes a matter of waiting for their inevitable break-ups.  (In the case of Barney and Quinn, that will probably be quite soon, as Newton has duties on the new Bays & Thomas show, FOX’s midseason Goodwin Games.)  Since the show is fairly scrupulous about events happening in “real time” (tonight’s events were specifically identified as occurring in May 2012), the characters are no longer youngsters, and there’s an unavoidable sense that it’s time for them to move on with their adult lives.

Nevertheless, HIMYM still provides plenty of charm, and much more heart than most sitcoms.  The cast does shtick, even the most familiar kind like Lily and Marshall tonight pretending to be more awake than they are, with marksmanlike precision, and Fryman continues to mine the material for the most well-timed laughs.  (There was a great bit tonight where the punchline was the discovery, by cutting to a different angle, that Quinn had been in a room the whole time a conversation was going on.)  It’s just all getting a bit familiar and circular by now, as Ted gets back with Victoria for the 3rd time, and Barney and Robin ruminate about their past (which is also their future) relationship yet again.  It’s actually too bad that Becki Newton has to leave, because her character at least gave a little zing to the inbred little circle.

If the deals make, those concerned can probably stretch HIMYM through a 9th season and maintain the show’s quality.  But diminishing returns are beginning to set in, and in some ways it might be better if the show began its endgame toward our grand meeting sooner rather than later.

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."