Posts Tagged ‘How I Met Your Mother’

Sadness and the Big Moments: The Finale of “How I Met Your Mother”

“We’ll always be friends. It’s just never going to be how it was. It can’t be, and that doesn’t have to be a sad thing.”

And so here we are again, with a series that most of us here at NPI liked–if not enough to offer serial reviews—ending in highly scorned fashion. How I Met Your Mother has gone the way of Lost, or even of The Sopranos, its conclusion drawing ire from fans and critics alike.

Series finales, especially for quote-unquote comedies, are really difficult, for the reasons John S laid out a year ago post-The Office. I mean, let’s face it: Endings in any fictional work are hard and typically forced, because in real life things don’t really end. The kind of closure we expect from a story isn’t intrinsic. There are always going to be loose ends and unexplained details and things we never find out. Fiction writers have to navigate their way around this, usually by killing characters or by having them unwittingly broach the fourth wall by weirdly acknowledging a finality that shouldn’t exist diegetically.

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Monday Medley

What we read while Seth Greenberg wondered what he did…

Monday Medley

What we read while not writing anything….

  • The New York Times Magazine’s profile on David Mitchell is one of our favorite features on one of one of us’s favorite authors. Our favorite part from Wyatt Mason’s look at Mitchell: “When writing is great, Mitchell told me of the books he loved as a reader, ‘your mind is nowhere else but in this world that started off in the mind of another human being. There are two miracles at work here. One, that someone thought of that world and people in the first place. And the second, that there’s this means of transmitting it. Just little ink marks on squashed wood fiber. Bloody amazing.'”
  • Last week we linked to Philadelphia Magazine‘s profile of Buzz Bissinger, which asked why the former Pulitzer Prize winner was so angry. This week, we link to Bissinger’s own indirect response from The New Republic, in which he explains why he loves Twitter: “I am an angry man, which is one of the reasons I have resumed therapy and take four different pharmaceuticals. I wake up angry, stay angry during the day except to my dog and children, and go to bed angry at night. Most of my anger amounted to a running dialogue of abuse and self-abuse while working alone at home. But with Twitter, I now had an outlet.”

New Year’s Eve

I don’t mean to make a habit out of posts that bash beloved holidays (watch out, Arbor Day!), but I feel the need to address tonight’s celebration of the New Year. It’s not that I hate New Year’s like I hate Christmas—I don’t. I just think New Year’s Eve is a poorly conceived holiday.

New Year’s Eve is a celebration built around a technicality. The Gregorian calendar lasts twelve months, but “beginning” in January is totally arbitrary. A continuous revolution, such as the Earth’s around the Sun, has no beginning and no end. In fact, because the length of the aforementioned revolution is technically slightly longer than 365 days (hence the need for Leap years), New Year’s Eve isn’t even consistent on which point signifies a “new” year. (Not to mention the fact that the current calendar has been altered and revised so many times throughout history that historical years have not always even been the same length, let alone had the same starting point.) Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Ten Funniest Episodes of Television

Our look last week at the decade in television focused mainly on dramas. But the creative advancements in the medium were not limited to that genre; it’s only more obvious there. The Aughts have been a great decade for comedies as well, seeing such brilliant shows as Arrested Development, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and many others. There are plenty of reasons why comedies have been so good during the Aughts, and we touched on some already, but the same principles that applied to dramas are at work here: The people making TV realized that there is an audience that actually likes shows that are unconventional, smart, and formally innovative. We’ve seen shows embrace the documentary structure (The Office, Modern Family, etc.), plentiful flashbacks (How I Met Your Mother), third-party narration (Arrested Development), and political satire (South Park). A slew of new comedies from 2009—Community, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family—bode well for the continued success of the sitcom.

Comparing comedies, though, is a little trickier than comparing dramas, since they don’t generally tell one consistent story. Even seasons often contain no “narrative arc,” and, if they do, it often has little to do with the actual comedy. As a result, comedies are much more susceptible to uneven seasons and bad stretches than dramas. Instead, we’re going to compare episodes. And unlike previous lists, we’re going to put a strict cap, of one, on the number of times a single show can appear on the list. Other than that, though, the parameters are pretty loose: Of any show, no matter how long it lasted or where it aired or on which network, these are the Aughts’ ten funniest episodes of TV: Continue reading

Aught Lang Syne: The Best TV Characters

John S already called the Aughts the “Golden Age of Television.” Now, he’s joined by Tim to help further justify that statement by recalling some of the most original and memorable characters the medium has produced over the last 10 years. We had one criterion: The character had to debut this decade. Some notable characters who did not make the cut include Gil Grissom (CSI), Mr. Bennet/HRG (Heroes), and Walter White (Breaking Bad).

As for the ones who did, we’re not saying we ranked them, but we’re also not saying the order is random.

Adrian Monk: The character of the seemingly all-knowing master detective has been around for some time now, dating back to the work of Edgar Allan Poe, at least. Adrian Monk didn’t reinvent the wheel on Monk, but in giving the detective a compelling backstory and severe psychiatric disorders—the latter usually played for comedy, except in the context of the former—it added a depth to what could otherwise be a stale cast character.

Furthermore, it’s hard to think of an established actor who has engrossed himself in a television role as much as Tony Shalhoub did for the eight seasons of Monk.* As the eponymous detective stricken with a severe case of OCD, Shalhoub mastered the portrayal of the neurotic genius, even if the show too often settled for being a network procedural that just happened to air on cable.

*There is one other guy on this list that has a case.

–Tim

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Aught Lang Syne: Tim’s Video Hitlist

I want to make one thing clear from the start: This is my hitlist. John, Josh, and Pierre had nothing to do with it, and I don’t want to sully their reputations or that of the blog as a whole in presenting it. You know what I think about music.

But the following is a list of eight music videos from the Aughts, loosely defined as “my favorites.” I was late to the music video party, not getting MTV until it stopped playing music videos.*

*I mean “getting” there in the sense that I did not have it as a channel on my television. I did understand what MTV was.

If you want to make the case that I don’t “get” music videos, go ahead.

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