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How I Met Your Mother - The Awesome Season Four (2008) Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 October 2009
ImageIt is always tough to elevate a television series in the middle, or possible the end, of its run.  I am one of those people that can’t watch a series that I haven’t seen from the very first episode.  I have watched “Smallville” from the pilot to last week’s episode.  The same goes for “Heroes,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ghost Whisperer,” among many others.  And if I happen to miss an episode, I refuse to watch any future episodes until I am able to watch the missed episode.  I just need that security that I know everything that is happening.

So when I received “How I Met Your Mother” season four, I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  I did watch this show the first season and some of the second season, but began waning after that.  I missed all of the third season.  Therein lies the problem with the show.  It becomes redundant that it doesn’t keep audiences’ attention.

Here’s the premise: The future Ted Mosby is telling his children how he met their mother.  There’s nothing to spoil as the show still hasn’t uncovered which prominent character, if any, is the mother.  The show pulls all its humor and plots from other classic comedy television series, including “Friends.”

In addition to the storytelling, Ted and his friends, in the past, which is really our present, get into predicaments and wiggle their way out of them.  Sadly, the show becomes dull, with the exception of a few aspects.  The only one worthwhile part of this show if you continue to choose to watch is Neil Patrick Harris.  Harris plays Stinson, the vainest person in the world.  His mentality and behavior is simply hilarious.  Unfortunately, it is not quite enough to keep this show on my DVR.

While every episode has a different plot and are too simplistic to cover, here are the characters involved in the story.  Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) is the lead character that struggles to find what he wants in life.  In the current season he is engaged, but it is highly doubtful that the current fiancée is the mother to which the title is referring.  Neil Patrick Harris is Barney Stinson, a smart-mouthed, vain character that keeps the show alive.  Marshall (Jason Segel) is an immature friend that is married to Lily (Alyson Hannigan).  Note: Hannigan is pregnant in real life, but the writers have chosen to not make her character pregnant.  This is probably a smart move.  And finally, Robin (Cobie Smulders) is Mosby’s ex-romantic interest and is also struggling to survive in rough economic times.

“How I Met Your Mother” is highly uninvolved, but if simple comedy is what you are looking for then this series is for you.  In my opinion it is just another comedy that draws too much on past successful comedy shows.  If you are into shows with story arcs and questions, beyond who the mother is, then this isn’t the show for you.  I will leave the rating in between so as not to persuade or dissuade anyone.
“How I Met Your Mother” arrives on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and an AVC encode.  I am going to venture that the transfer is technically okay, but is simply a direct transfer from the broadcast video feed.  As with pretty much every comedy series to hit Blu-ray, the video is entirely sub-par.  The show it poorly lit so the video is darker than it should be for a comedy.  Shadow delineation suffers from poor contrast levels.  Black levels are consistently crushed.  Fleshtones are for the most part natural, but they are inconsistent.  Details however are quite surprising, with the exception of all that is lost in the shadows.  Textures are also decent.  Edges are sharper than I would have expected.  Artifacting is still present, reaffirming the idea that this is simply a video transfer.  The video is alright for a television series and better than the standard DVD presentation, but it is not representative of Blu-ray technology.

Like the video transfer, the audio quality is limited by the production audio.  As a staged show, the audio suffers from a boom pole mic and some hidden lavaliers.  This creates a horrible mix.  The background noise level rises and falls within the same scene.  This is quite distracting when heard through the DTS-HD lossless audio codec.  I think I would have preferred a lossy audio track.  The dialogue is also shifty due to the production recordings.  The dialogue is highly filtered, depending on the background noise.  Dialogue is generally always clear and intelligible, but it wavers back and forth from full sounding to way too bright sounding.  The applause track is disjointed from the mix.  Surround channels are filled with random ambience that doesn’t help the clarity of the track.  LFE support is practically zero.  In short this is a typical weekly comedy series television track.  At least the dialogue is clear enough to understanding.  But forget about the rest of the aspects.

Being a newer television show, the Blu-ray release comes with a few bonus materials.  The Blu-ray set comes with three discs.  There are four audio commentary tracks on episodes; “Do I Know You?,” “The Best Burger in New York,” “I Heart NJ” and “The Naked Man.”  The last one is perhaps the funniest audio commentary to exist on a television series.  In an interesting feature that went by far too quickly, there is a season three recap.  “Barney Stinson: That Guy’s Awesome” is a music video.  “A Night With Your Mother” is a panel discussion from the academy.  Finally, there is a gag reel.

“How I Met Your Mother” season four is great for those viewers that are still interested in the show or that just can’t get enough of Neil Patrick Harris.  The video and audio transfers are limited by the production value of the show.  All in all, this show will provide you some major laughs, but won’t keep you involved from one episode to another.

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