Still keep­ing mum

Howime­ty­our Mother’s

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By DAVID BAUDER Howime­ty­our­mother

en­joy­ing its best year ever.

THE mys­ter­ies that sur­round the CBS sit­com How I Met Your Mother ex­tend to co-cre­ator Craig Thomas’ of­fice on the Fox stu­dio lot.

A white board on the wall that out­lines the sev­enth sea­son’s episodes ends with Bar­ney’s wed­ding in the May fi­nale. “... is the bride,” the board says.

You never know who’s go­ing to walk in, and Thomas and part­ner Carter Bays hold tight to their se­crets. That will be a piv­otal episode: Not only will the ul­ti­mate bach­e­lor come off the mar­ket, but the show has re­vealed it’s also the day that Ted meets his fu­ture bride – the mother that is the con­ceit upon which the en­tire show is built.

That doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean view­ers will meet the mother in that episode, how­ever. Stay tuned.

Time may make view­ers more in­vested in the lives of Ted (Josh Rad­nor), horn­dog buddy Bar­ney (Neil Pa­trick Har­ris), Ted and Bar­ney’s ex Robin (Co­bie Smul­ders) and the mar­ried cou­ple Mar­shall and Lily (Ja­son Segel and Alyson Han­ni­gan).

An­other likely con­trib­u­tor is the boomerang ef­fect of syn­di­ca­tion mak­ing more peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the se­ries. How I Met Your Mother, which just filmed its 150th episode, has been seen out­side of prime time on lo­cal broad­cast sta­tions the past few years.

How I Met Your Mother is the clos­est TV has to a mod­ern-day Friends. It started at a time, in 2005, when net­works were des­per­ate to re­place that beloved NBC se­ries and, frankly, the name­sake gim­mick dis­tin­guished it from other wannabes.

The se­ries opened with kids on a couch im­pa­tiently lis­ten­ing to nar­ra­tor Bob Saget, as Ted circa 2030, ex­plains how their par­ents met.

That first episode be­gan with Ted es­tab­lish­ing a ro­man­tic con­nec­tion with Robin, end­ing with the kicker of Saget ex­plain­ing, “that’s how I met your Aunt Robin”.

Dur­ing an ini­tial meet­ing with TV crit­ics be­fore the pre­miere, Thomas and Bays were taken aback by anger they faced about that pi­lot’s twist. Were they re­ally ex­pect­ing to learn the mother in the first episode? Then they re­alised: Peo­ple cared about the char­ac­ters they cre­ated.

They don’t re­gret the struc­ture, even if “Who’s the mother?” is no doubt the cock­tail party ques­tion they’d least like to hear by now.

“I al­ways thought the frus­tra­tion about it was a lit­tle mis­placed,” Rad­nor said. “There’s so much to en­joy be­yond the cen­tral con­ceit of the show that I al­ways felt like, Re­lax. If he meets the mother, the se­ries is done, so if you like the se­ries you should be wait­ing. En­joy the wait. Maybe this whole se­ries is some grand les­son in pa­tience for peo­ple. It cer­tainly is for Ted.”

Many fans be­lieve the mother should be re­vealed on the final epi- sode. Oth­ers would like to see the fu­ture par­ents go through their first year of dat­ing. This much Thomas will say: It will be one of those two pos­si­bil­i­ties.

That’s why Thomas and Bays have some im­por­tant meet­ings ahead of them this spring. The ac­tors are signed through the end of next sea­son (May 2013), so the pro­duc­ers will need to know soon if the se­ries is stretch­ing be­yond that.

Re­veal­ing when Ted would meet his fu­ture wife turned out to be lib­er­at­ing.

“It’s kind of a mo­men­tous thing to say,” Thomas said, “be­cause it re­tired one of the tricks on this show that we had milked for half a decade, which was that any girl that Ted bumped into any­where could be the mother. Last year we said we’d done that enough.”

The de­vice the cre­ators set up, where view­ers know in the back of their minds there’s a happy end­ing, helps ground the show, he said. It’s com­fort­ing to know things turn out OK, and that knowl­edge en­ables writ­ers to show the harder chap­ters in their lives.

How I Met Your Mother was born of the cre­ators’ own ex­pe­ri­ences. They moved out to Hol­ly­wood to­gether to try and make it as they ap­proached age 30, af­ter hav­ing worked as writ­ers for David Let­ter­man. They missed New York, and were re­flec­tive of the times they had gone through in their 20s.

The show’s set is a con­ge­nial one, with a calm warmth that flows through veteran di­rec­tor Pamela Fry­man. Cast mem­bers have busy sep­a­rate pro­fes­sional lives. Segel is a gen­uine movie star ( The Mup­pets and For­get­ting Sarah Mar­shall), Har­ris is a go-to awards show host and Rad­nor just di­rected his sec­ond film ( Lib­eral Arts) to open at Sun­dance.

“It’s re­ally a well-oiled ma­chine here,” Segel said. “You just come and do it and hang out with your friends. It kind of feels like go­ing to sum­mer camp ev­ery day.”

The ac­tors say they’ve been kept in­ter­ested by how the show has ex­plored sto­ry­lines be­yond sit­com wise­cracks. Robin learned re­cently that she was un­able to con­ceive and bear chil­dren. Lily is preg­nant and the cou­ple bought a house in Long Is­land, while Mar­shall ex­pe­ri­enced the death of his fa­ther.

The death of Mar­shall’s fa­ther was one of the cre­ators’ se­crets. The news wasn’t dis­trib­uted ahead of time, be­cause some stolen scripts had found their way to the In­ter­net be­fore the episode aired. Segel learned as Mar­shall did, when Lily told him with cam­eras rolling.

When the episode aired, Thomas’ wife, who had re­cently lost her mother, com­pli­mented him on writ­ing Mar­shall’s shocked re­ac­tion of “I’m not ready for this.” He had to tell her that it was ad-libbed, not writ­ten. One take. Segel said it made for a bet­ter per­for­mance. – AP n Best Of How I Met Your Mother is air­ing on Star World (Astro ch 711) on Mon­day at 8pm. Four episodes will be aired back-to-back. Sea­son Seven will pre­miere on Feb 20 at 8pm. Also avail­able on Star World HD (Ch 722).

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