Oh baby, what a fuss

Baby talk changes ev­ery­thing, writes Yvonne Vil­lar­real

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

THERE’S a baby bump on the set of How I Met Your Mother, but no one’s pay­ing it much at­ten­tion. In a flash­back scene for an up­com­ing episode, the nar­ra­tor’s me­mory is laps­ing and he can’t re­call whether Lily (Alyson Han­ni­gan) was preg­nant dur­ing the moment he’s re­count­ing.

As Lily spars with Bar­ney (Neil Pa­trick Har­ris), her belly re­mains un­men­tioned, serv­ing sim­ply as a rest­ing spot for a plate of Chi­nese food.

Now in its sixth sea­son, the show is toy­ing with the idea of em­ploy­ing a de­vice much be­laboured in sit­com land: the ad­di­tion of a baby.

A due date is un­known — and for some fans, that’s OK. Much of the sit­com’s ap­peal has cen­tred on the in­ter­minable mys­tery of whom Ted Mosby (Josh Rad­nor) will even­tu­ally marry. But sus­pense can hold view­ers’ in­ter­est for only so long be­fore it grows frus­trat­ing.

Baby talk has loomed over the se­ries for a while, with long-time cou­ple Lily and Mar­shall (Ja­son Segel) flirt­ing with par­ent­hood for much of this sea­son. And in fact, hints of a com­ing preg­nancy stretch back to au­tumn 2009, when, in a flash for­ward, Ted tells his kids how his friends quit smok­ing: ‘‘ Lily stopped once she started try­ing to get preg­nant and Mar­shall quit when his son was born.’’

Even if the stork doesn’t drop by this sea­son, it’s fated to hap­pen even­tu­ally. ‘‘ I think we’d be su­per cute with a baby,’’ Segel says.

Still, the show’s pro­duc­ers are pro­ceed­ing with cau­tion.

‘‘ There’s fear,’’ ad­mits ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Craig Thomas. ‘‘ Will it limit us? Will the show lose some­thing?

‘‘ How­ever, the idea of open­ing up whole other sto­ries is ex­cit­ing.’’

In prime time, in­fants have a mixed record.

Some lamented that Mur­phy Brown lost her snarky edge af­ter she gave birth at the end of the show’s fourth sea­son. Oth­ers found that Mad About You got more mad­den­ing af­ter Paul and Jamie wel­comed a daugh­ter near the end of the show’s run. Then there was Roseanne, which de­cided to add a fourth kid — named Jerry Gar­cia — to its house­hold in its sev­enth sea­son.

‘‘ It’s thought of as a po­ten­tial death knell to a show,’’ Thomas says. ‘‘ But at the same time, the se­ries is all about grow­ing up, so to not ad­dress it, to not see this cou­ple who has been to­gether since age 18 get to that point, would seem dis­hon­est.’’

The se­ries isn’t alone in its baby quest. Scour the tele­vi­sion land­scape and young­sters are ram­pant. A lit­tle tyke was re­cently added to NBC’s The Of­fice, shortly af­ter Jim and Pam com­pleted an­other TV con­ven­tion — get­ting mar­ried. Dex­ter’s bun­dle of joy

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