Archives for posts with tag: How I Met Your Mother

Just one year ago I lamented one rather underwhelming TV seasonThe Office was put out of its misery– and it was misery, make no mistake about it.  How I Met Your Mother found a way to stretch its eighth season into a ninth by having 24 episodes deal with one weekend (hey, 24 got there first– and did it a whole lot better).  Dallas even tried to soldier on minus the one Four Star General we all tuned in to watch.  Would things get even worse before they got better?

Despite the fact that Two Broke Girls remains a program people watch, 2014 is looking up.  First to clear the air about addition by subtraction:  I watched 41 minutes of Dallas this spring.  I’m over it.  I can’t buy John Ross as somebody who can master his “ABC’s”… let alone scheme on any level.  The “sensitive Christopher storyline” has Bobby’s son growing a beard and dating a single mom.  Kind of like what happened to Steve Sanders on 90120 with the Hillary Swank character, except instead of adding facial hair Ian Ziering simply started to lose hair.  Drunk Sue Ellen was shocking in 1978…not so now.  Even the burning Southfork was 30 years after the fact.  Where’s Ray Krebs when you need him?

 

Mad Men– this is “technically” the final season.  Even though they’re producing 8 this year followed by 8 more next year.  What’s going to stop shows from eventually producing 13 “one episode” seasons down the road?  Don Draper’s in a free-fall this May…with his wife in Hollywood, his work life on heavily measured life support (reporting to rookie of the year Lou) and his children being played by two of the worst actors ever (Kiernan Shipka excepted)  Instead of Bob Benson (from accounts!) cursing in Spanish, we’re cursing any and all Bobby Draper storylines.  I’m glad he traded a sandwich for gumdrops.  I’m thankful they’ve kept Gene on the sidelines for the most part.  And I’m surprised they haven’t turned Glen into the lead singer from the Turtles (they’re dead ringers).  It’s interesting how the firm is divided against itself– California/New York, Roger Sterling/Jim Cutler, Peggy/her underlings, Dawn/Stacy.  With the glacial pace this show proceeds, will there be any resolution of any of these conflicts anytime soon?  Tune in next year…but later this season.

 

The Americans– at least Sterling Cooper & Partners is one office.  Each front here is fractured (FBI, Russian Embassy, the Jennings, Stan’s family, the handlers) and somehow makes progress despite itself.  I credit the wigs.  Philip and Elizabeth are having issues managing their kids (nothing like sneaking into a neighbor’s house to play Intellivision–only to fall asleep), marriages (Martha’s this close to going over the edge in one direction or another) and methods (from Philip changing the bait for Yousaf to Elizabeth having to let her Nicaraguan protégé die).  Thank goodness Stan is being worked over by Nina and Oleg…while the gay Navy SEAL is going rogue.  It’s a credit to the writers and actors that a show with protagonists trying to bring down the U.S. hasn’t turned people off yet.

 

Turn– while the cover for these spies isn’t a travel agency in 1776 (it’s cabbage farming)…intrigue and information gathering while the other side is looking the other way isn’t that different.  Instead of the hero looking to steal stealth weaponry secrets for the USSR, the good guy in AMC’s new show is trying to get one over on the Redcoats.  There’s the unsure of himself lead who winds up being pulled into the greater cause.  There’s the forbidden love of his life he’s now working with to beat the British…along with intergenerational conflict.  There’s even a comically evil British Captain who smacks of the Ski Patrol/Cobra Kai/Alpha Beta type…only with an accent that makes you want to punch him.  The question is much like The Americans– how beholden to specific facts of history will this show be?

 

24– Jack’s back…if only in limited form.  Will the seconds count off twice as quickly?  Is there a metric hour that I didn’t know about?  After a less than awesome Season 8 that wrapped up four years ago…he’s in London this time (mixed reviews for foreign 24’s:  while Songala was cool in the movie 24: Redemption and the Season 5/6 car commercial in China was decent, Season 3’s Mexican storyline was fraught with overacting).  And Benjamin Bratt’s chasing him while his ex (Audrey’s no longer catatonic!) is married to Tate Donovan who works for her father the President (I buy James Heller as our chief executive a lot more than Wayne Palmer).  Chloe’s back with a bit of a gothic look (hopefully her personality remains the same–meaning socially incompetent) while there’s a new crisis (isn’t there always?).  There will be shooting, shouting and ridiculous plot holes.  I’m hoping this is more like Seasons 1, 2, 4 &5 than 3, 6 & 8.  WE’RE WASTING TIME!

What a crazy couple of weeks in Washington.  A perennial doormat punches its playoff ticket…while a perennial contender plays its way towards extra golf.  A baseball sweep reminds us that the first week is meaningless-except when it is– and a football signing reminds us that while a certain football team tries to move beyond the big offseason splash, they’re only a few days away from shouting “CANNONBALL!”.  Brackets are burned before a local team blazes its way to the Final Four.  And in the middle of it all, the Mother we’ve been waiting to meet meets her maker.  Where to begin?

 

When I left you last, I was focusing on my “Bold, Fold, and Gold” (patent pending) picks.  Bold Picks Providence, NC State, Nebraska and Ohio State failed to get to the weekend.  Fold Picks VCU, Oklahoma and Villanova underperformed their seed while Michigan lost in the regional finals.  And Gold Selections Kansas & Duke didn’t survive the first weekend…while Michigan State came up short and Wisconsin advanced.  Alma Mater Update– I was bummed to see Syracuse come up short in the round of 32…but after seeing them play the way they had since early February I wasn’t surprised in the least.  So now we have the pre-tournament favorite (Florida), a team that finally got its act together after underachieving for far too long (Kentucky), and two hardscrabble teams that flew in under the radar (Wisconsin by the vanilla-ness of their image as a buzz-cut wearing boring bunch and UConn by scraping together three consecutive upsets).  My fear is Kentucky wins and the press goes back to kissing the feet of John Calipari…because talent trumps all the frills and winners write history.  I’m hoping for Florida-Wisconsin…and the usual “spontaneous cliched final call”.

Speaking of Final Fours…how did this Maryland team get there?  Wasn’t this the bunch that struggled with just one alpha dog in Alyssa Thomas carrying too much of the burden?  Wasn’t this the team that lost their ACC Quarterfinal game and came undone on the road repeatedly?  Wasn’t this a team directed by a freshman point guard that would most assuredly be hitting the wall given the minutes she’s had to play this winter?  Au contraire– do not underestimate coach Brenda Frese when she has two weeks to get her team back in gear after a rough couple of months.  Don’t underestimate the power of Alyssa Thomas–a swiss army-knife of a player that allows her team to go big and small often on the same possession.  And don’t think that just like Kentucky can jell down the stretch after five months playing together, the freshman three-pack of Lexie Brown, Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough won’t start playing like upperclassmen.  The win over top seed Tennessee was impressive, but beating Louisville on their home court was absolutely huge.  THAT JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN.  Credit quick starts in both games…and with unbeaten Notre Dame on the horizon the Terps know that a slow start against the Fighting Irish in the regular season cost them in the long run that night.

The Maryland women are in the Final Four for the first time since 2006… while the Washington Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.  Break out the banners!  This for a franchise that hadn’t even been over .500 after November since…well, quite some time.  Coach Randy Wittman’s meshed together a hungry group that at its best does the little things–and with the necessary intensity.  And they’re doing this with minimal contributions from their first round pick from last June–although once Otto Porter gets healthy, he should be a factor in the future.  Two moves that made the season–sending Emeka Okafor to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat (who would have thought his game and beard would have held up in DC?);  and signing Drew Gooden off the scrap heap (providing quality minutes once Nene got hurt).  Can they dream of a #6 seed and a first round upset?

While the Wizards are on the upswing, the Capitals are collapsing.  Four straight losses aren’t helping…and Alex Ovechkin going point-less in even-strength situations during the month of March was deadly.  Years of getting fat late in the season against Southleast Division competition may be coming back to haunt the team this April.  For years I’ve compared the Caps to the Cherry Blossoms– they spring to life in late March and early April before becoming an afterthought in May.  Evidently the winter weather in DC took a different tone on the ice.

Deja Vu may be in play for the Nationals:  the team swept its opening series with the New York Mets– just like last year when they broomed Miami.  Unfortunately 2013 season did not adopt the “most impressive first series gets a bye into October” rule…and a rude awakening was just around the corner:  beginning with a rough weekend in Cincinnati and a home sweep by Atlanta.  The first-place Nats play the Braves a little earlier this year– as in the home opener.  Will new manager Matt Williams make the right lineup and relief decisions?  Tanner Roark was the right move in a spot-start today…but it’s a long season.  159 more…

Redskinsanity– Desean Jackson is a Redskin.  The team adds another major weapon for coach Jay Gruden–and in theory this is not a bad move.  It’s only a three year deal.  Jackson’s 27…and has more than a few productive years left.  Gruden and RGIII will find ways to get him the ball in the right spot…and if he isn’t racking up big catches it’s because he’s drawing extra coverage that’s not on Pierre Garcon.  This will be the move that puts a team just one year removed from the playoffs back into the postseason.  The defense and special teams will need all the bailing out this fall-and this lightning rod is exactly what you need.  But they’ve taken Eagle castoffs before…and Jeremiah Trotter and Donovan McNabb weren’t difference-makers here.  There’s the gang thing.  And the uneasiness that now accompanies every free agent move made by the Redskins.  Call it Albert Haynesworth’s shadow…

How I Met Your Mother wrapped up a nine-year run on CBS with a divisive series finale that had many long-time viewers up in arms.  In reality, it was a show that had probably been on the air two or three years too long…and I’m glad to have closure.  Did we need to spend an entire season on one wedding weekend when the marriage would come undone 15 minutes into the season finale?  Did we need to send a character on a roadtrip that went nowhere quickly because the actor playing him was busy shooting a movie?  Did we need to kill off the very mother we were searching for the entire time?  Did viewers need to edit together a “new ending” that wrapped up on the train platform or start an online petition?  It’s tough to stick a landing in a series finale.  M*A*S*H broke the mold in the manner that there was finality…but not every show is about a war (or conflict…or even a police action).  I thought the last season was a little bit uneven from multiple Billy Zabka sightings to further Fonzification of Barney (I won’t even mention how they turned him back into the heel he once was only to redeem him with a daughter all in ten minutes of screen time).  I heard they had to trim the final episode by 18 minutes…I’m sure the jumpiness of the timeline was made worse because of that.  It’s too bad they couldn’t have fleshed out the whole story…because for whatever strengths and weaknesses HIMYM had, it was about storytelling.  And the ending felt rushed.  But it was a fun place to visit on Mondays…and a decent group of characters to enjoy watching from the next booth at MacClaren’s.

 

 

WOW! Now these were the Redskins we had been thinking we’d be seeing all offseason! At least on offense. It’s one thing to beat a rudderless Raiders team–and the fact that the Bears were minus Jay Cutler for the bulk of the game isn’t lost on us–but to outscore Chicago 45-41 brought Burgundy and Gold Nation back from the depths a loss to Dallas can only create. We’re back, Babydoll! At least until the Redskins visit a Denver team that averages over 40 points a game…

RG3VER– Yes, you got that right. ALL CAPS. The face of the franchise threw for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns while rolling up 84 yards on the ground. I like how he’s stretching the field (over 16 yards per completion). Despite the fumble (recovered by the Skins’ Chris Chester) and interception…this is the closest Griffin’s been to his rookie year.

Morris has a Co-Star, and it’s not a Fantasy– Just like Bell was at its best when both Zak and Slater had major roles in episodes…the Redskins running game is at its high point when Alfred the Underused has help from Roy Helu Jr. providing the perfect change-up pitch for Morris’ fastball. And just as Morris rumbled for 95 yards on 19 carries…Helu added 41 yards and 3 touchdowns while notching a 5-yard reception. So does this make RG3 the Screech of this ground game? Hell no– he’s Mr. Belding.

Jordan Rules…with a Freddy Farewell– rookie tight end Jordan Reed took another huge step forward with 9 catches (on 9 targets) for 134 yards and a touchdown…with 4 of those catches coming on third down. Reed now has 26 receptions for the season while making Fred Davis all the more obsolete. Pro Football Talk tweeted as early as Monday afternoon that Davis was being shopped around by the team. Reed is a less-expensive version of Davis with fewer headaches.

Third and manageable– the Skins went 7 of 13 in moving the chains… and more importantly 5 of 6 inside Chicago territory. RG3 completed 6 of 11 passes, 5 of which resulted in a first down while getting sacked once. Alfred Morris gained 9 yards on a 3rd & 1 on the gamewinning drive on the other pivotal down. Yardage breakdown: 2-4 on short yardage, 3-3 on 3rd & 4-6 yards needed, and 2-6 on 3rd & 7+ yards needed. Just as important was the Skins defense getting off the field on 6 of 8 third down opportunities.

D Starts Strong Before Slipping– the much-maligned unit looked sharp in the first half: holding the Bears to 46 net yards on 17 plays. After intermission, the Bears had 6 possessions: 3 resulted in touchdowns, 2 resulted in field goal attempts (converting 1 for 2) while the other ended as the game expired. The Skins D coughed up 313 yards in the second half– and despite the pick six by Bryan Orakpo and two sacks there’s plenty of work ahead for this unit. Especially with safety Brandon Merriweather suspended two games and Reed Doughty a question mark for Denver with a concussion.

Focusing on the Flags– only five penalties were called against the Skins for 47 yards…a huge improvement over the Dallas game (12-104). Two were personal foul penalties against Brandon Merriweather–and the oft-injured safety now has to sit the next two weeks against the likes of Peyton Manning (career high 123.3 passer rating) and a rejuvenated Philip Rivers (career high 111.1 passer rating).

A Very Special Episode of Blossom– sadly this episode of special teams had another thorn in the form of an 81-yard punt return by Devin Hester. Granted, Hester is a likely future Hall of Famer…but after last week’s long returns and other issues–the longer this aspect of the game remains a scab other teams can pick on, the longer it’s going to take for the season to become truly healthy. I never got into “Blossom”, but always remember it being pitched as “comedy blended with drama”…and found it both unintentionally funny and filled with unwanted drama. Kind of like the Skins’ kicking game this fall.

Cobra Kai– Mr. Forbath connected on a 38-yard attempt to begin the game while making each of his 6 extra point attempts…NO MERCY!…but only 2 of his 8 kickoffs reached the endzone. While Zabka’s recent appearance on “How I Met Your Mother” connects as a kicker (the Bachelor Party Clown) yet doesn’t work in longer stretches (why he’s at Barney and Robin’s wedding playing poker is beyond me), Forbath’s accuracy is tempered by his lack of length on kickoffs. Sweep the leg…

Dissecting the Division– Dallas takes over first place with their win over Philadelphia and holds down the #4 seed in the NFC. The Eagles are in 9th in the NFC thanks to a better conference record than St. Louis. The Redskins remain in 13th while the NY Giants move into 15th after their Monday night win over Minnesota. Sadly, nobody’s technically eliminated yet–although Jacksonville and Tampa Bay are both making Detroit fans nervous in their respective pursuits of 0-16.

NFC Least– the Giants win improves the bunch to 10-17…one half game ahead of the AFC South (thank you Jacksonville). They’re a long ways away from catching the AFC West (19-8) though (let the record show as a division they’re 1-8 against the AFC West this fall with the only win belonging to the Skins). As far as conferences go, the AFC has a 20-15 edge after 7 weeks…

Giving up is not the easiest thing to do…even when it is the necessary thing to do.   It means we admit we’ve either made a mistake or it’s time to try something new. And nobody wants to admit they’ve erred or go away from what they’re used to attempting.  Much like Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers” after unveiling two outside the box schemes proved faulty…”Oh, what the hell– let’s just steal a nuclear weapon like we always do!”  We’re like that with TV shows. And that’s one reason I try to limit my viewing–because just as I was on the hook for the final unwatchable two three four seasons of 90120, I don’t do well departing a series I’m invested in (for the record, “9-0” became unwatchable after Dylan left the show following his new bride’s murder).

That said– I began the season with four shows in my rotation with a fifth joining the club this winter…

Dallas– Yes, I was stuck on the Ewing schemes in the 80’s well after the “Dream Season”.  There was no way I could avoid getting sucked in to this Lone Star State sized sinkhole.  And let the record show, if they ever reboot “Happy Days”, “Cheers” and “Tales of the Gold Monkey” at the same time like they’re doing next summer with “24”, I’m going to be worthless.  How could you resist the 21st century update to JR, Bobby, Sue Ellen & Cliff?  By having the kids be annoying as hell.  JR’s kid is the “schemer”, yet seems like he can’t solve short division problems.  Bobby’s son’s answer to everything is shouting…and Cliff’s daughter went from smart scammer to dumb damsel in one season.  At least Bobby married the woman who played Sue Ellen Michke on “Seinfeld” (although there’s no mention of the Mars family fortune).  Sadly, Larry Hagman’s death brought a narrative dampener midseason.  While the show gave JR a proper sendoff and tied up loose ends nicely, I don’t know if a third season is necessary.

Mad Men– Oh, if only JR met Don Draper.  Bourbon and branch meets the Old Fashioned.–they would have had one heck of a time in Big D or the Big Apple.  While season six is still in progress we’ve seen Don careen through his professional and personal life like a bull in a china shop.  Not only did Draper  napalm the Heinz and Jaguar accounts, he started cheating on his Soap Opera actress wife with a married woman–sneaking over when her cardiac surgeon is saving lives.  All the rest is window dressing alongside Don’s descent:  a merger between SCDP and CGC (couldn’t we have just one vowel?), Pete’s retreating hairline, Peggy’s boss-crush (umm, Peg—Preppy McPrepp isn’t leaving his wife for anyone short of Daisy the Stewardess) and Rookie of the Year Bob Benson (“from accounts!  Wharton!  I’ve got two cups of coffee if you want one!”).  Add Harry Hamlin (“Roger Sterling with bad breath’) and Ted McGinley (SHARK ALERT!) to the mix and you’ve got just enough to make me sit through Sally & Bobby Draper’s scenes.  Kids just don’t fare well on this show– even Roger’s adult daughter was irritating in her limited run.

The Office– Bob Benson would be such a good Regional Manager at Dunder-Mifflin.  At its best this was one incredibly nuanced show of equal parts sweet, sour and sublime.  From Jim and Pam to Jim vs. Dwight to “I’M PRISON MIKE!”.  Ringmaster Steve Carell was the crazy glue that kept what seemed like 20 plot points working like coordinated oars in the water.   Nobody said the wrong thing at the right time better or more often.  After Michael Scott’s departure the rudderless ship foundered over the last two years but finally finds port this week.  It’s time to say goodbye… I have the same regard for “New Jim” and “Dwight Jr” as I did for “Coy & Vance Duke” and am just glad there’s not a “Poor Richard’s Pub After Dark” where today’s hottest artists happen to make tour stops.  But I still dream of a “Threat Level Midnight 2–Electric Boogaloo”.

How I Met Your Mother– And of course I’d have to go see “The Wedding Bride III” the next day.  The consistently uneven season ends–and we actually get a payoff for the third straight finale:  two years ago we learned Barney was going to be the groom at “the wedding” (How crazy!  He’s the ultimate bachelor!)…last year we learned Robin would be the bride (How crazy!  She hates marriage and he’s engaged to a stripper!).  This year we actually see “the mother”–Cristin Milioti shows up to buy one ticket to Farhampton with umbrella and bass in tow (How crazy!  We were used to being stringed along!).  Highlights include Billy Zabka at the bachelor party and Ted’s “45 days” speech.  Lowlights include Marshall’s disappearance,  Robin’s descent from confident career woman to Barney-obsessed and “Who Wants to Be a Godparent”.  Now the show’s final season will be devoted to wrapping things up.  But how will they?  I’ve heard everything from them having Ted meet the mother in the first 1 to 3 episodes…get to know her and then marry her in the finale (which they have to do to line things up for a 15 year old daughter in the 2030 flash-forwards) to all 24 episodes covering “Barney and Robin’s Wedding Weekend” with flashbacks of how each in the gang got to meet the mother– which will become exhausting.   Unless Billy Zabka’s there.  And yes, I refuse to call him William. 

The Americans–  what do I call the husband?  Phillip JenningsClark Herbert Westerfield?  Or whatever Russian name he actually goes by?  In honor of Kevin Costner in “No Way Out”, I’m going with Yuri.  Maybe they can use the same shed at Arlington National Cemetary in season two– and even board the Metro at the Georgetown stop.  Word is the show “Alias” was pitched as “Felicity’s a spy” to ABC– so it’s only fitting Keri Russell a decade and a half after playing Felicity becomes a spy.  And even if she cuts her hair (DONT!) she’ll have a wide assortment of wigs.  Perhaps it’s the spy story motif, the protagonists as KGB sleeper cel agents or the early 80’s outfits and music that makes this work (“Games Without Frontiers” the perfect coda to the season finale).  Maybe it’s because everybody is lying about something to another character at some time or another–and they kind of know it (there hasn’t been this much serial dishonesty in a cast since “Casablanca”).  Perhaps it’s the sense of fear because we know and see how good the KGB couple is at undermining our national security–and we see and know how woefully unlucky and occasionally incompetent our people are.  In a world where one of my shows makes it’s necessary departure, another probably should have taken its final bow and a third is behaving like the college student taking 3 courses a semester to reason the 6 year plan, it’s nice to see it’s “morning” for “The Americans”.  Good to see I’m moving forward with one show set in 1968 and another in 1981.  Phillip/Clark/Yuri,  meet Don Draper/Dick Whitman.