The Cutprice Guignol

The Ninth Year: The Haunting of Swill House

Tag: neil patrick harris

How They Ruined How I Met Your Mother

I’ve been watching CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother for more than five years now; what started off as a slightly clever dramady turned into one of the sitcom mainstays of American television, running for nine years as it followed the story of five friends trying to make it in New York. No, not friends-don’t mention Friends. The people behind this show have never heard of Friends. They didn’t know what that show was about, though maybe they caught a few episodes when the TV was on in the background. But HIMYM is nothing like Friends, when you think about it-for a start, there were SIX people on Friends. They could go on, but there’s no need, as there is literally not one similarity between their original creation and Friends. Not one.

Either way, the show came to an end on Monday night after nine seasons and many ups and downs-both in the lives of the central characters and the quality of the show. But I stuck with it and it became a regular in my weekly viewing-funny, occasionally sad, a little surreal and ultimately predictable. Told in a framing device where the central character recounts the story of how he met his children’s mother to his bemused offspring, it played off fore-knowledge, flashback and unreliable narration for pathos. And after watching the finale, it’s safe to say I’m furious with how the show chose to throw nine years back in it’s audience’s face while prancing around blowing raspberries and stealing their cigarettes.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers here, but suffice to say the show indulged in a spectacular amount of flashforwards for it’s final hour-and in doing so managed to undermine the relationships they spent so long building, both this season and for nine years. Much of the show revolved around main character Ted’s relationship with (female) Robin-we knew from the off that she was not the mother, but Ted frequently found himself drifting back into the fantasy that she might be The One. Eventually, he began to slowly, painfully let go of that belief and open himself to someone different-someone, probably, better. A brave and interesting way to handle a will they/won’t they, it was believable and felt like an earned growth of character as he finally let her go for the last time.

I think what makes a great sitcom finale is the idea that life goes on. Friends and Frasier did it best; you got the sense that everyone’s lives were going to continue, but you just wouldn’t watch them living them any more. How I Met Your Mother lay everything out with no room for argument-here is exactly what happened to everyone for the rest of their lives. If you don’t like it-tough. There’s no room for speculation. If we want to repeal character development, major relationships, and key plot points, we will. There was a distinct feeling on the ending being decided on years in advance-and it was, with some character’s reactions having to be recorded within the first few years of the show’s inception- and the writers found themselves stuck with it, attempting to steer the careering plot lorry away from the edge of a cliff they knew they couldn’t avoid.

Some people have argued that by making unexpected (and unpopular) choices, the writers have moved HIMYM towards some semblance of reality. What they forgot was that we don’t come here for reality-we come here for glossy fiction. You can’t feed us exotic eclairs for almost nine years then act surprised when we spit out soggy toast and margarine-nine seasons of charming, witty fiction matched with an hour of sad, depressing, unlikely and unguessable stabs at reality left many viewers (including me) feeling cheated. The finale was not the ending to the show I’d been watching for five years-so I’ve decided to erase the ending from my memory and enjoy it at it’s-entirely unrealistic-best.

If I Were Stephen Moffat

You know about the new series of that BBC rip-off of the  Time Traveler’s Wife, yeah? That one with that pseudo-fun science teacher we all had in high school running about with his dildo torch? But once he was Hamlet and before that he had big ears (no, like, really big)? Aye, Doctor Who or something. Well, this Saturday it’s back. Despite my cunningly nonchalant air, I am borderline gnawing my own face and those of people around me with excitement.  And I have some suggestions for Stephen Moffat, the lead writer and generally Mafia Don of the show. So, Stephen, if you’re listening (and you best be doing whatever I tell you after the Fiji affair), lick your nib and sit attentively. 

1. No More River Song

There comes a time when people gather together. People of every class, every colour, every creed,  bind together as an unoppresible, silent army against some monolithic enemy, and they take a stand. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object. And sometimes all it needs is one voice, one single voice against the darkness to make a difference, to hold their own against what might be Hell itself. And that voice says “ENOUGH.”

Seriously, Stephen. Get your head out of your arse. I was bored of her by the third episode.

2. The bloody Ood.

If you bring back the Ood, I will forfeit my Whovianship. Now, now, Stephen, stop crying- I know it seems harsh for a big shot télévisioñ critic like myself to threaten you so. But you’ve done well the last few seasons (aside from fucking up the Angels. I don’t care how many violent arguments I have about it, I never wanted to see them move), so if you bring back the less criminally and more a-convincing-argument-for-capital-punishment-lly overused Ood I will see no reason to continue watching your show. Though, I’ll admit the name is pretty fun to say. Ood. Ood. Oooooood.

3. I want the Master back.

You could find a loophole into heaven, Moffat, don’t say you couldn’t, and I want the Master back. Not the magnificent John Simm, obviously, but no-one else can stand in for the Doctor’s real nemesis. I have a few suggestions, too: Benedict Cumberbatch would be great but almost too obvious, so I put forward Jeremy Clarkson or Neil Patrick Harris, or maybe my brother. He’s pretty tall.

So, that’s what I’d do. If I were Stephen Moffat. Which I’m not. I’m just his next regeneration.  Do do dooo……