There are few shows that can to carry a storyline as well as “How I Met Your Mother.” For six seasons now, the CBS show has led its audience on a merry chase toward finding Ted Mosby’s (Josh Radnor) wife-to-be. Season seven isn’t giving anything away just yet, as it even makes clear we’re nowhere near the end of the story. While this kind of drawn-out storyline could become tiresome for other sitcoms, “Mother” pulls it off perfectly.
How I Met Your Mother
Season seven premiere
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Season seven kicks off by tying up all the loose threads left over from last season’s finale. There’s Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) as a groom, but no hint as to whom his bride will be just yet. Four episodes in, it looks to be a toss up between Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Nora (Nazanin Boniadi, “Iron Man”). Knowing the way the series usually goes, the answer won’t be revealed for quite a while.
The new episodes also tie in Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) news about their baby on the way. The series has already set up some sure-to-be entertaining plotlines surrounding the pregnancy, including Marshall and Ted attending a birthing class together (without Lily) and a flash-forward scene of Lily in the delivery room sans Marshall.
Another season-long joke is also established — Marshall daring Barney to wear a tie covered with rubber ducks for an entire year. These long arcs are no stranger to “Mother” and prove to be something the series does best — remember the slap bet?
Of course, it wouldn’t be “Mother” without the love drama. The new season has Robin mooning over Barney, while he’s smitten — or so it appears — with Nora. There’s also Ted’s realization he’s not going to give up on love just yet, which again leaves him toeing the line between endearing and whiny. And Victoria (Ashley Williams, “Something Borrowed”) returns, announcing that maybe Ted isn’t as over Robin as he’d like to believe.
Here’s where the series can sometimes string a storyline out too long. Ted and Robin again? That’s been over for four seasons now and we’ve heard her referred to as “Aunt Robin” almost since the beginning. We’re over the two of them. As for Robin and Barney, who knows? But the pairing feels odd, as the two don’t seem to share the needed chemistry.
Putting the who’s-in-love-with-whom drama aside, the show’s other flaw is that it frequently walks the line between clever and overdone. The audience doesn’t need the jokes spelled out for them on the voice-over. The needless sum-up after every commercial break is tiresome, and Bob Saget’s (“Full House”) constant freeze-frame interruptions disrupt the flow.
Despite these relatively small flaws, the series often has perfect comic timing, shown to remarkable effect in the new season when Ted is narrating his encounter with Victoria, while Lily, Marshall and Barney are negotiating a bet on which the stakes are Barney getting a look at Lily’s pregnancy boobs. It’s the perfect mix of humor and reflection.
Undoubtedly, the series is one of the best long-running comedies on TV. And even though we really (really!) want to know who Ted ends up with already, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And the journey is definitely what “Mother” does best.