Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best Half Hour of TV in 10 Years?

OK, it might not've been the best, but How I Met Your Mother was great on Monday night. Smart, funny, sad, everything.

I have always liked this show but thought that the previous season (season 5) was frivolous, repetitive, and ridiculous at times. This season (Season 6) was off to an iffy start as well. But Monday night’s episode (Episode 13) was the best block of TV (with the exception of the Sopranos, of course) that I’ve seen since Jack declared his homosexuality on Dawson’s Creek—another brilliant bit of TV, about ten years ago.

For those who don’t know the show, the premise is pretty neat. The main character, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor), with narration by Bob Saget, in the year 2030 recounts to his son and daughter the events that led to him meeting their mother, which explains the title and allows for a narration in the past tense. How I Met Your Mother's other main characters are Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

Monday night’s episode focused on Marshall’s (Jason Segel) and his wife Lily’s (Alyson Hannigan) quest to get pregnant. Being in their early 30’s, this is certainly a pressing issue for a married couple in that age group. Additionally, Marshall’s overbearing father (Bill Fagerbakke), who lives in Minnesota, wants nothing more than to be a granddaddy. Feeling the pressure from not getting pregnant, Marshall decides to get tested for fertility (or lack thereof). Both him and Lily are convinced that the fertility doctor is their friend Barney in disguise (which is weird because Marshall and Lily had previously agreed that they would not try to get pregnant until they met Barney’s doppelganger and/or twin). Marshall’s dad is so consumed with being a granddad that he travels to New York to see his son. He tells Marshall he’ll love him “no matter what,” even if he can't have children. Turns out the doctor is legit and lets Marshall know that he is able to father a child. After the doctor says this, Marshall says, “I was expecting bad news.” He goes to call his father in Minnesota, but his dad doesn’t answer, and all we see is an unfinished clock and paint supplies on his work bench. Excited to tell Lily the “good news,” about his ability to father, Marshall runs from the bar, where the whole gang hangs out, in time to see a cab pull up. Lily climbs from the cab, teary-eyed, and tells Marshall that his father had a heart attack and "didn’t make it." The shot ends with the couple hugging, and Marshall saying, “I’m not ready for this.”

Everything about the episode was fantastic. Throughout the whole half hour the writers were dropping hints that a devastating, genre-twisting ending was awaiting us. But it wasn’t until the show ended and we had time to reflect, that we realized how perfectly it was all woven together. From the scene with his father in New York for the final time, to the shot of the unfinished clock on the work bench next to the ringing phone (representing being out of time), it was all great. And if you didn't notice, the writers found a way to display a number in every scene (whether it was #46 on Marshall's beer or #6 on the doctor's folder) counting down from #50 to #1 as the show progressed, to again symbolize the loss of time or a ticking clock, as is always the case in life, whether we know it or not. The #2 was shown on the broken clock and the #1 was shown on the cab that pulled up carrying Lily in the last scene. Awesome! I always loved the concept and writing on this show, but this was their Sistine Chapel.

Personally it struck a chord. My father died the same exact way, two years ago, to the day of that Monday night episode. So it was certainly an emotional reminder (for me) of how somebody can be here one day, gone the next. When I saw that cab pull up, and Lily climb from inside in the final scene, I said to myself, "Marshall's dad had a heart attack." I just knew it. As Marshall hugged Lily and said, "I'm not ready for this," I was brought right back to that moment/time in my own life. It was a great episode. One of the best ever.

Watch this episode. If you don’t have time, watch the final clip.

Final Clip:

Whole Episode:

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Brian Huba

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