Prolonged conclusion a danger to TV show’s legacy

I’m terrible at keeping secrets. How Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have kept their network show’s biggest secret for eight years is beyond me.

The two writers and creators of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” seem to have mastered the craft, however. Now, Bays, Thomas and the show’s five-member cast will have one more go-around, as the network has announced the show will return for a ninth and final season in the fall.

I didn’t care for the news that one of my top-five favorite television shows would continue for another 16 months. I felt angry and tired.

That frustration stems from the reality that it could well be another year from now before the sitcom’s main protagonist, Ted Mosby, finally reaches the point in recounting his tale when he meets the mother of his children.

The series has been an undeniable success in its run. The show anchors CBS’ Monday primetime lineup, yet probably receives the least promotions. There’s no need with its following.

But I fear the quality of “How I Met Your Mother” is slipping. The writers have seemingly explored every avenue available to them.

Each of the four other main characters has been fleshed out. Jobs have changed, estranged parents returned and even the married couple – Marshall and Lily – now has a baby boy.

The two remaining main cast members, Barney and Robin, have been the focus of last season, this season and – with their engagement – most likely a chunk of next season, too.

Despite being Ted’s story, “HIMYM” continues to delay his moment, which is honestly the only reason I keep watching.

Sure, Bays and Thomas pepper in hints here and there about the mystery mom, but the tips only seem to appear whenever fan frustration ratchets up about the story’s pacing.

In my opinion, the show is in the most danger when the writers send a character back into a retread of an earlier arc. It implies the writers are running out of ideas, and what does a retread say about the previous growth of the character? It must be caput if we’re hearing about it again.

The popular fear from CBS and the show’s creators, one reads, is that the show is over once the mother is revealed, implying the finale is when all questions will be answered. So the only thing to do, then, is delay that final reveal as long as possible, even if cast stars like Jason Segel (Marshall) and Neil Patrick Harris (Barney) hedged at the idea of shooting season nine.

Cartoonist Bill Watterson, creator of “Calvin and Hobbes,” said he retired from the comic strip biz on his terms. “It’s always better to leave the party early,” Watterson said, meaning he didn’t want his art to grow stale before finally pulling the plug on something he was no longer proud of.

I’d pass his advice onto CBS and Bays and Thomas. It’s too late now, obviously, because “How I Met Your Mother” season nine is already officially on record.

But more than anything, I’d like to see the show restore its favor on the everyman Ted Mosby, instead of continuing to push his happy ending – and by extension, the show’s fans’ –  further into pipe dream fantasy.

 

DAN KUBACKI

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