Archive for the 'Geek Punditry' Category

21
May
14

About ‘Batman v Superman’…

Batman v Superman-Dawn of JusticeEarlier today, Warner Bros finally announced the title of the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, which we all know would co-star Ben Affleck as Batman and do the  legwork for setting up the Justice League movie that will come out a year later. As a lifelong comic book nerd and especially a Superman fan, I of course had an immediate reaction upon hearing the title Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. So rather than go over it time and again, I thought I would say it here, once, for posterity:

The internet is absolutely full of assholes.

I happened to be at work when the title was announced, so I didn’t see it until later in the day, more than enough time for every nugget-brained, mouth-breathing, soulless, spiteful, hateful jackass on the plant to crawl out of the woodwork and start hurling invectives at Warner Bros, at DC Comics, and especially, at each other. Because, you see, knowing the title of a movie is pretty much the same thing as seeing the finished product, as we all learned from Naked Lunch.

A short collection of the kind of comments I found, except with better spelling, because it’s almost the end of the school year and I can’t bear to torture my brain by attempting to accurately emulate the comments of these people:

  • “This sucks.”
  • “This just proves it’s gonna be The Dark Knight Returns. This sucks.”
  • “Gal Gadot is too skinny to be Wonder Woman. This sucks.”
  • “STUPIIIIIIIIIID.”
  • “This just proves it’s not gonna be a Man of Steel sequel. This sucks.”
  • “Something something pretentious, I’m going to go back and watch Tree of Life.”

And so forth.

Now I want to be clear here, I’m not writing anything in defense of the movie. That would be impossible. Because the damn movie has not been made yet. There is literally nothing to defend. Principal photography began, literally, this week. Yet this hasn’t stopped pretty much the entire internet from vomiting out the contents of its gall bladder into the ether.

To be fair, the defenders of the film were, in many cases, just as inarticulate. Phrases such as “not a true fan” were thrown around, which is frankly just as noxious a term as “fake geek girl” to me. If there’s anything less possible to predict than the quality of a movie that has not yet been filmed, it’s the inner devotion of a person to an idea, concept, or fandom. Or to simplify that, just because someone doesn’t feel the same way about a franchise as you do doesn’t make them any less of a fan.

For some time now, I’ve found myself getting more and more irritated with fandom in general, at least its online iteration, because it seems quite clear that the only thing anyone is interested in spewing is negativity. String theory posits that every possible title for this movie was actually selected in some alternate universe or another, because all possibilities are reality somewhere in quantum space. However, I promise you, in every parallel reality it’s mostly the same people bitching and moaning about the title for a movie that — again, I remind you — they have not seen yet. A small sampling of whining jackasses from other planes of existence:

  • World’s Finest? Sounds pretentious.”
  • Superman V Batman? What, Affleck doesn’t get top billing?”
  • Man of Steel 2? What, they couldn’t be more original than that?”
  • “Gal Gadot is too skinny to be Wonder Woman. This sucks.”

So allow me to make this simple. You haven’t seen the movie. So you don’t know. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed an opinion. It just means that if you have no intention but to hiss clouds of venomous mist in the direction of anybody who has the audacity to be excited for the movie, I really don’t want to hear a single syllable out of you. It means that if you honestly believe you know all there is to know about this movie just from the title and the tidbits of information released so far, you’re an idiot. It means that if you think somebody else is less of a fan than you are because they don’t like the title, you’re an elitist snob. It means that if you’re actually so stupidly arrogant as to presuppose that there is nothing else to be discussed and your opinion is inviolate and unerring and that nothing will lodge you from your perch, do us all two favors. First, shut up, because you’re not going to contribute anything to the discussion. Second, when the movie comes out, don’t bother to see it, because you’ve already made up your damn mind two years ahead of time and nothing that anybody puts on that screen could possibly change it at this point, so why waste your time?

There. Rant over. Except to say that if I’m talking about you even a little, you need to grow the hell up.

Hmm? What did I actually think of the title? I actually quite like “Dawn of Justice,” but I’m not crazy about the “v” part, as it implies “versus.” A certain degree of conflict is inevitable, I suppose, I just hope it’s not the entire blueprint of the story.

See how easy that was? Try doing it like that some time.

01
Apr
14

How I finished “How I Met Your Mother”

I have written before — and often — of my love for CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, which ended its nine-year run Monday night. It was a show of true heart, relateable joys and heartbreaks, and outrageously funny characters that have kept me entertained for nearly a decade. I didn’t want to fire off a knee-jerk reaction to the finale — as the internet has proven time and again, that way lies madness. I wanted a little time to ponder, to sort out my feelings, to understand them before I tried to explain them. Now that I’ve thought it through, I think I’m ready.

Be warned. Spoilers ahoy.

To say the ending left me feeling conflicted is an understatement. There were certainly fine moments, and the structure works. At the end, the show is finally given its true context. The framing sequence, when Ted Mosby circa 2030 is telling the children how he met their mother, is really Future Ted’s attempt to explain to his children why — six years after the death of his wife — he’s considering trying to start up a relationship with their “Aunt Robin.” It explains succinctly why the story started with his and Robin’s first meeting, why so much of the story has centered on her, why over the years Ted and Robin  would backslide to one another so often. It makes sense.

Despite making sense, though, something about the finale left me feeling… hollow. And I needed to decide what that was. It wasn’t just that Tracy, the mother, was dead. I didn’t want that, but I’ve also never thought it was fair to judge a story by what you want it to be rather than what it is. And it isn’t that the ending was, at best, bittersweet, because those are often the most emotionally rich and spiritually honest ways a story can end.

My problem, I think, stems from the fact that the final few minutes of the show thrust Ted and Robin back together again — this after years of Ted trying to get over her and finally succeeding just a few short episodes ago. In the penultimate episode, in fact, he underlined that moment, telling Robin that he was not in love with her anymore. To leap, then, from that point to Future Ted returning to Robin’s apartment with the blue French Horn from so long ago… it felt like all the character development had evaporated. I could deal with Robin and Barney’s divorce, sad as that was. I probably even could have dealt with the Mother dying, as such sadness is true to life, is what ultimately makes the moments of joy all the greater. In the last minutes, though, I felt like we bounced back to square one.

In a way, I think the writers trapped themselves. In any long-running story — especially on TV, where the writer’s goals can be derailed by actors leaving, dying, getting arrested… really any circumstances where real-world events can intrude on the storytelling — there has to be room for flexibility. We all know that Aaron Paul’s character was originally slated to die in the first season of Breaking Bad, but Vince Gilligan changed his mind, and thank goodness. Then we have LOST, which initially hung a lot of significance on a 10-year-old named Walt. The mysteries around that character had to be dropped, though, because while only a few months passed on the show, in real time several years passed. The actor aged and hit a growth spurt. Now I remain a defender of LOST, I liked the ending, but I can’t deny frustration at some of the questions that were never answered because nature necessitated putting him on a boat off the island.

HIMYM’s problem wasn’t as dramatic — there was never a question of removing an actor or one of them leaving the show. Instead, the characters moved in a direction I don’t think the creators anticipated by focusing so much of the show of Ted trying to get past Robin, to the point where many viewers (I’m raising my hand here) wanted to just get past that and get on with the story of the Mother.

But the die had already been cast. To avoid “The Walt Problem,” they filmed scenes of Ted’s kids reacting to the end of the story eight years ago, before they had visibly aged from the scenes they shot for the first few episodes. It was a good strategy, but it kind of locked them into the ending, in which the kids gave Ted their blessing to go after Aunt Robin. With no wiggle room, they took an ending that may have worked in season two, or three, or even five, and applied it to characters who — by season nine — had outgrown it. The ending planned no longer rang entirely true.

I don’t hate the ending. There was, in fact, some fine work in there. Lily and Marshall have always been the stable core of the group (save for a brief period in season two), and having them act as a sort of Greek chorus in this finale, shuffling them between Robin, Barney, Ted and Tracy, all rang true.

Neil Patrick Harris, to use a baseball analogy, gets the save here. One of the best aspects of the show for the past few years has been the slow growth and development of Barney Stinson from a one-note character to someone you truly wanted to root for. When he and Robin broke up and he reverted to form, it was heartbreaking. In his case, though, it was not a question of true backsliding, of him becoming the person he once was. Even sadder, he was trying to return to the person he used to be, and with each protest that his friends “let me be who I am,” it was increasingly clear he was no longer that person.

Then he held his daughter and professed his truest, most sincere love. In that moment the old Barney — the Season One Barney, the Barney he put back on life support when he and Robin called it quits — well and truly died. And as sad as his split with Robin was, I don’t think the new Barney, Daddy Barney… hell, the real Barney… ever could have existed without her. It was a phenomenal moment, and although we didn’t get to see much of Barney as a dad, I have no doubt that it was Legend — wait for it…

And finally, Cristin Milioti as Tracy, the Mother. She gets this season’s MVP award. To come into a show in its ninth and final season would be daunting under any circumstances. To do so in such a way that makes the viewers feel for her and care about her as deeply as the five characters the audience has known all this time… it’s heroic. She was simply magnificent. We accepted easily how quickly Ted fell in love with her, because we did too.

I believed Tracy as the love of Ted’s life. Which is initially why that ending felt like a gut punch. upon reflection, though, I think I also see a seed of redemption in it. I can use it for a little perspective. Ted, after all, was the one who turned down Robin when she tried to take him back at her wedding. Tracy wasn’t his second choice, like I felt at first. Even though he didn’t know her yet, he gave up Robin to look for her, and he was rewarded. And it’s not like he ran back to Robin as soon as his wife died — he took six years, a more than respectable amount of time, before he decided it may be worth pursuing. Even then, he put the wishes of his children — Tracy’s children — before his own. Through that prism, I can see it as Robin and Ted finding solace with each other after her unexpectedly lonely life and the loss of his true love.

It’s not what I expected. It’s not how I would have ended it. But it has some truth to it nonetheless.

So while I’m not fully satisfied, I’m not really upset either. I’m certainly not angry. How could I be? For nine years, I’ve been allowed to join in on the adventures of characters right in my own stage of life, allowing me to grow with them. As Ted’s friends married and had children, so did mine. The first time Ted ever heard Tracy’s voice, she was singing “La Vie En Rose,” and as Erin and I prepare for our own wedding, they’ve given us the song for our first dance.

So thank you, show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and thank your writers, for nine years of joy. Thank you to Pamela Fryman, who directed nearly every episode of the series (a Herculean feat in and of itself). And thank you to our six incomparable friends, and the countless supporting players, for the pop culture milestone you’ve created.

For robot wrestlers and the Kennedy package. For slap bets and for Swarley, duckie ties and dopplegangers. For never buckling to peer pressure and explaining about the pineapple. (Yes, I’ve heard the rumors of a DVD extra. Shut up.) For making interventions fun again. For extending the cultural significance of the hanging chad by a good 13 years.

For making me cry more than once and never making me ashamed of it.

For blue French Horns.

For yellow umbrellas.

I request the highest of fives.

 

–dary.

Yeah. Totally worth the wait.

23
Jan
14

The fate of George Wilson

Fair warning: the following post spoils the ending of The Great Gatsby.

No, the novel. The real one.

Anyway, as I’m currently teaching Gatsby to my 11th grade students — you know, like you do — I’ve had way too much time as of late to think about the characters. Particularly the character of poor cuckolded George Wilson. And I’ve come to a startling conclusion.

At the end of The Great Gatsby, George Wilson — having murdered Gatsby in cold blood, believing he was having an affair with his wife — commits suicide. He was brought to this point, I submit, by a life that was never what it really should have been. He owned his own business, but the garage was unprofitable and he was often on the brink of being destitute. He had a wife, Myrtle, but she never truly loved him. Myrtle Wilson treated her husband with open contempt and flagrantly defied their marriage vows by running around with Tom Buchanan, a fact obvious to virtually everybody but simple-minded George Wilson. No, poor George wasn’t all that bright. He was naive and easily fooled: the only reason he targeted Gatsby at all is because Tom gave him the perfectly accurate yet horribly misleading information that Gatsby owned the yellow car that killed Myrtle. His naivety pushed him towards his ruin. And through it all, George was trapped beneath the harsh, watchful, judging eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg’s enormous billboard, looking down at him from behind its pair of gigantic spectacles, peering at him like the eyes of God.

After his death, though, George awakens to a new life. Gone is the responsibility of his own business, replaced instead with a job that is physically demanding (for which he is suited), but stable and respected. George has become a mailman. In his new life, George meets and marries a girl named Martha. Martha is everything Myrtle was not — kind, intelligent, compassionate, and unselfish. George loves her deeply. After years of hard but satisfying work, George and Martha quietly retire, to live out their days in happiness together.

Then, a new family moves in next door. Although seemingly normal and pleasant, there is a child that vexes George. The boy is troublesome — almost dangerous. He constantly causes damage to George’s property and physical harm to George’s being, causing him to fall from ladders, trip over toys and otherwise suffer a litany of abrasions and bruises. George cannot retaliate, however, due to the youth of the child that good-hearted Martha has taken a liking to. What’s more, the boy appears to have no actual malice in him — the destruction left in his wake is the result of simple-mindedness and a lack of forethought, much like that left by George in his own previous existence. George is crushed under the boy’s affection — he considers the old man to be his best friend, and George endures for Martha’s sake, hoping the child will grow out of it.

But the boy does not.

As time goes on, not only do the boy’s antics grow more cartoonishly outlandish, but more destructive as well. Damage to George’s car, his home, the ruination of a priceless collection of stamps become common. Their encounters become an almost daily occurrence, with longer, more colorful episodes happening on Sundays. True horror sets in when it occurs to George that it has been years — perhaps decades — since he first encountered the child, and nothing is changing. The town stays the same, he and Martha do not age, and the boy — the terrible, devastating sprite — is perpetually six years old. And what’s more, nobody but George seems to realize they have become frozen in time.

It finally dawns on George. He is in Hell. This is his punishment for Jay Gatsby’s murder. Day after day, year after year of slow torture at the hands of little Dennis Mitchell, who simply does not know any better.

But George knows. God is watching. God is laughing at him still, every time something happens. George can see Him in the huge, round spectacles Dennis’s father wears, for George Wilson recognizes that gaze… not from the eyes of Henry Mitchell, but as the watchful stare of Dr. T.J. Eckleberg.

05
Dec
13

A Very Nerdy Christmas

Next year, Erin and I will finally celebrate our first Christmas together. I couldn’t be more excited, and I know she’s already making certain plans in terms of traditions and decorations and the like.

However, over the years I’ve assembled a small but — I think — amusing collection of Christmas ornaments of my own. Many of them have been given to me as gifts, the rest have mostly been the result of Hallmark’s after-Christmas clearance sales. It never seemed sensible to spend a ton of money on decorations until I had someone to decorate with. So while I’m sure next year the two of us will bring together all her ornaments and all my ornaments and probably a bunch of new ornaments, today I thought I’d share with you guys my collection as it stands today, such as it is.

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

First up is my Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. While not technically an ornament, it’s one of my most prized Christmas decorations and also will serve as the model for most of the upcoming pictures. Erin gave me this tree a few years ago and I love it. I actually wound up getting a second tree to place in my classroom at school, knowing that this tree was far too precious to risk in a room full of high school students.

“Oh come on, Blake,” you’re saying. “They’re in eleventh grade. Surely they can be trusted to be in proximity to a decoration with just a single ornament without worrying about them breaking it.”

Heh. It’s cute that you think that.

Doctor Who TARDIS

Doctor Who: The TARDIS

Next up is my TARDIS decoration. You may or may not know (except if you know anything about me at all, in which case you absolutely know) that I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan. This particular glass ornament was given to me by my buddy and frequent Showcase co-host, Kenny. Thanks, pal! I know that Erin will want to be certain it gets a place of honor next Christmas.

Donald Duck Wakeup Hallmark

Donald’s Wake-Up Cup

I love Disney and I love Christmas, so it’s not surprising that many of my decorations are Disney characters. Of course, as I’ve done most of my shopping in the clearance sales, my selection is particularly eclectic. I’d grab whatever looked like it was worth the money, and the deeper the discount the lower that threshold would become. For example, here’s Donald Duck, having just rolled out of bed, drinking a cup of coffee. Probably because I got it for pennies.

Mickey Mouse Ears

Mickey Mouse Ears

From the “My parents went to Disney World and all I got was this…” line. A few years ago, my parents took a trip to Disney World and brought this personalized set of mini-Mouse Ears to me. (That’s “Mini” as in “small,” not “Minnie” as in “Mickey’s girlfriend.”) They brought an identical pair of ears for Erin. Hers are currently dangling from the rear view mirror in her car.

Scrooge McDuck from "Mickey's Christmas Carol"

Scrooge McDuck from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”

Another Hallmark Keepsake ornament, this one depicts my favorite Disney Character — Scrooge McDuck — as he appeared in the classic 1983 animated feature Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Hey, speaking of A Christmas Carol, have you guys been following my Reel to Reel movie blog? All this month, leading up to Christmas I’m reviewing and analyzing different versions of Charles Dickens’s classic novel. All of your favorites are there — Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Mr. Magoo… go on, check it out.

Disney Vinylmation 2012

Disney Vinylmation 2012

My brother and sister are big fans of Disney’s Vinylmation figures — a series of toys all set in the same Mickey Mouse-shaped mold and decorated in an infinite number of ways. I’ve got a lot of them too, but I’ve been a bit more selective in my Vinylmation purchases than them. This one came out last year — it’s a regular Vinylmation figure with an ornament loop on the head. This one depicts Donald Duck trapped in a snow globe, presumably the work of a genie or his nephews or something.

Vinylmation Hot Chocolate

Vinylmation Hot Chocolate

Another Vinylmation figure-slash-ornament, this one depicts a chocolate bar in the shape of Mickey Mouse. As you can tell, whoever got this bar in his stocking eats his Mickey chocolate the same way everybody eats their Easter rabbits — he bites the ears first. This figure also smells like hot chocolate. Well… the box says it’s hot chocolate. There’s a definite cocoa flavor to the aroma, but I don’t know if I’d go that far.

Perry Christmas from Phineas and Ferb

Perry Christmas from Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and Ferb is without question, the best cartoon for kids in decades. I dare you to find anything that’s even remotely as entertaining. You need to go back to the 90s heyday of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. These kids rock.

Also, this was the last picture I took. I thought I was finished, I put my Charlie Brown tree in its place of honor (which is rather high up and out of reach of cats and three-year-old nieces), and when I realized I missed this one I just said the hell with it and took the picture on the table.

Dooby dooby doo-wah, A! GENT! P!

Dooby dooby doo-wah, A! GENT! P!

Courtesy of Target, here’s Phineas and Ferb’s best pal Perry the Platypus in his other identity: Agent P of the OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym). I like to imagine here that he’s just stumbled into an insidious yuletide trap set by his arch-nemesis, Dr. Doofinshmirtz. Don’t worry, guys, Doof isn’t really that big a threat. And he actually doesn’t hate Christmas anyway, he has a burning indifference.

Prep and Landing Hallmark

Prep and Landing: Wayne and Lanny

A few years ago Disney introduced these guys, Wayne and Lanny, members of Santa Claus’s special Prep and Landing task force. These are the elves that scout ahead of Santa Claus to make sure the house is ready, the children are nestled all snug in their beds, and not a creature is stirring. If you have a Merry Christmas morning, it’s because Wayne and Lanny did their job right so that Santa could come behind them and do his.

Muppets Kermit Target

Kermit the Very Shiny Frog

This one is a Target find rather than Hallmark. Erin picked it up for me last Thanksgiving when we were shopping. This was either a few days before or a few days after I asked her to marry me, I don’t remember which, and it doesn’t matter. It’s special anyway. And yes, that’s a reflection of me and my phone in Kermit’s face. You try hiding your reflection when taking a picture of a shiny glass amphibian. It’s not that easy.

Peanuts-Erins Snoopy

Snoopy and Woodstock go for a drive

Snoopy and Woodstock here were a gift from Erin. She found it for me at work and included it in a stocking full of candy and little gifts last year. The girl knows me all too well, doesn’t she?

Peanuts on Ice

Peanuts on Ice

This is actually four separate ornaments put together. The “Peanuts on Ice” figures from Hallmark each have a magnet in the base, allowing you to connect them. I’m not sure how many there were in the series, but I know how many I got. Four. I got four.

You’ll notice that Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, has no magnet and therefore is not connected to the rest of the Peanuts gang. I like to imagine that Linus, sick and tired of her years of sexual harassment, disabled the magnet in her base in the hopes that she would slide away and suffer a tragic mishap in the ice. Wow, that took a dark turn.

The Flash

The Flash

Another Hallmark ornament, here we have Barry Allen, the Flash. (How do I know it’s Barry Allen and not Wally West? Because Wally’s belt always came to a point in the front, only Barry wore the straight belt for his entire career in the Pre-Crisis era. Yes, I’m THAT kind of nerd.) Barry here, if I’m not mistaken, is actually the oldest ornament in my collection. I’m pretty sure I’ve had him since high school, and I don’t even remember when I got him.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Hal Jordan. Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814. Current leader of the Green Lantern Corps. Another Hallmark keepsake ornament. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Golden Age Superman

Golden Age Superman

I’ve got a few different Superman ornaments. Try not to be surprised.

This Hallmark ornament is actually two in one. In the front we have the Golden Age Superman, the way he first appeared in 1938. In the background is the second ornament, the cover of Action Comics #1, in which he made his first appearance. Actually, now that I look at it, the figure isn’t exactly right for that comic. His “S”-symbol, at that point, was actually just a yellow shield with the letter drawn in it, not the stylized version it would later become, and his boots hadn’t yet evolved to what we see here either. Wow, now I’m furious at the inaccuracy of my ornament. Christmas is RUINED.

Modern Superman

Modern Superman

This more modern Superman is a one-piece ornament, with the Man of Steel bursting out of the cover of a comic book. And this actually is a comic book, you can open that sucker up and read it. There aren’t any credits, but I think the short re-telling of his origin story was drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, a classic DC Comics artist who contributed a lot of art for various DC merchandise over the years. I told you, I’m that kind of nerd.

Superman Luxor

Lenox China Superman

I think I’ve shown this one off before but I don’t mind doing it again. This Lenox China Superman figure has the trademarks of that elegant line of decorations — the white glass is used in his cape, and the Lenox gold lines the figure in several places. This, too, is a gift from Erin, which should be obvious because those Lenox ornaments are pretty expensive for a guy that, until now, got most of his Christmas decorations from Hallmark’s 20% off table.

Dwight Schrute: Talking Bobblehead

Dwight Schrute: Talking Bobblehead

From The Office, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight Schrute. This ornament is actually based on the Valentine’s Day episode in which his girlfriend gave him a bobblehead doll of himself. The ornament is a working bobblehead, plus, it talks when you push that little button in the front. I briefly considered shooting a short video demonstrating these features, but then I realized that would require way more of a commitment than I was ready to put into this little article.

Elise's Ornament

Elise’s Ornament

Now we’re getting into the ornaments that have an actual emotional connection for me. This one, for example, was a gift from Erin’s niece Elise last Christmas. Hey — I guess that means she’s going to be my niece too. Cool.

For Erin's teacher

For Erin’s teacher

Another Erin find. This “For My Teacher” apple came to her at work and she brought it home to me. Go ahead: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaw…”

Engagement Encounter: Be Joyful

Engagement Encounter: Be Joyful

And finally, probably the most meaningful ornament on the list is this little Cross. Last summer, Erin and I attended an engagement encounter at a monastery in Pittsburgh. We wanted a keepsake of the weekend, and decided on this Christmas ornament. The message, I think, was just right.

28
Sep
13

Blake’s Weekly(ish) Update

It’s been a few weeks since my last “weekly” update, hasn’t it, guys? Sorry about that, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. But here’s a roundup of everything I’ve put out in the universe for you guys since the last time I did a recap.

24
Sep
13

I Am Ted Mosby (or) Why How I Met Your Mother needed a ninth season

HIMYM9“You’re not a Ted,” my fiance, Erin, told me Monday night. “You’re more of a Marshall, with a little Barney mixed in.”

She means this as a compliment, of course, and I take it as such, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree. She goes on to explain that, over the course of the eight years we’ve known him, How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted Mosby has been a jerk several times — spending years pining over a girl that has made it clear she does not feel the same way, making a complete ass of himself in the pursuit of others, often neglecting his friends or even turning on them in the process, and most noticeably, whining, whining, whining… Oh sure, as HIMYM viewers we’re still rooting for him, but like a lot of shows, the ostensible protagonist of How I Met Your Mother is often the least interesting character.

And she’s right, she’s right about all of this. But even though Erin knows me better than anyone in the world, the truth is, she has only ever known me as part of a couple. She knows the Blake that is complete because of her presence, not the one who spent years feeling empty for the lack thereof. Like Ted, I often deluded myself about the chances of success with whoever I was infatuated with at the time. Like Ted I could be whiny, even obnoxious. Fortunately for me, like Ted, I have a group of heroically loyal and supportive friends who never abandoned me no matter how bad I got. (Thanks guys… sorry about that.)

Erin says I’m a Marshall, and that may well be true… now. But what she has never seen is that Blake minus Erin equals Ted.

And it is because of this, I think, that I remain steadfast in my enthusiasm to finally see Ted Mosby find the Mother of his children.

Last night began the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother, and from the outset it is clear this will be very different from the previous eight. First of all, the entire season is going to be set during the three days of Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend… the “present day” timeframe, at any rate. The show has always played fast and loose with time, allowing for flashbacks and flashforwards at will to let us glimpse the lives of our heroes as a puzzle being put together one piece at a time. Still, by condensing the entire “present” into a 56-hour period, the show has a sense of urgency that’s rare in a sitcom.

Of greater importance, though, is the fact that the series, for the first time since its inception, has made an addition to the regular cast: Cristin Milioti as the still-unnamed Mother. We glimpsed her for the first time in the closing moments of season eight, and she’s signed as a series regular for season nine. This is vital to the new show we have this year. While the first eight seasons were ultimately about Ted, season nine must be about Her.

When it was announced that HIMYM would get a ninth season, halfway through an eighth most people (myself included) assumed would be the final lap, the question arose: why are they making a ninth season  at all? Season eight brought us right to the brink of Ted meeting the mother. Why not just work it into a massive wedding finale and be done with it? What is season nine going to give us that we couldn’t have had otherwise?

Last night, we got our answer. The first half of the episode showed the Mother’s initial encounter with one of Ted’s group when she bonded with Lily on their train ride to Farhampton. We saw the chemistry she had with someone we already loved and learned a few things about her that start to paint the picture of a woman tailor-made for Ted Mosby. In the second half, a show that is already famous for how it plays with time found a new way to do it, overlaying a scene of a solitary “present-day” Ted with a flashforward of him with the Mother one year into the future. The contrast is striking — a quiet, lonely man trying to convince himself he’s not any of those particular adjectives, compared to the same man just one year later, complete, joyful, and whole perhaps for the first time in the show’s history.

The experience of watching it, I imagine, is not unlike that of one of my friends who saw me before and after I met Erin.

When you start dating someone, there is always a process of “selling” them to your friends and family. With Erin it was an easy sell, because she’s awesome and my friends are not stupid, but the process is there nonetheless. You show how great the person is, how lucky you feel and — most satisfying to those who care about you — how happy you are together. That’s the prize for those friends who stood with you through the lonely years: the joy on your face when those years are over. But how do you do that when the implied ending of the show, from the outset, is meeting Her, before we actually get to the payoff?

And that, my friends, is what we need the ninth season for. It’s to sell us on Her. The show will almost certainly end with Ted meeting Her at that fateful train station, but we need to somehow see the aftermath, the scenes of a broken man finally put back together, that happiness that we’ve waited on for such a long time. Through a mixture of Her interaction with the rest of the cast and glimpses and allusions to the future Ted and the Mother will have together, the ninth season is here to prove to us that She has been worth the wait.

And judging just from the few scenes we’ve glimpsed of the Mother so far (Cristin Miglioti is flawlessly charming, sweet, and as dorky as Ted in all the right ways), I feel like we’re going to be sold pretty easily.

In a way, I’m upset to see it end. This is without a doubt the most heartfelt, emotionally sincere television comedy on the air, and while there are other shows I like, there is nothing else on right now that makes me feel for, care about, and root for the characters the way How I Met Your Mother has done for so long. After the final scenes, the final flashforward, the final lonesome moment of Ted Mosby’s life has come and gone, there will be a gaping hole in the television landscape. Something will eventually come along to fill the gap, something always does, but to take the place of this show is going to take something… well, there’s only one word for it… legendary.

07
Sep
13

Blake’s Weekly Roundup: March to War

All this week I’ve continued the character countdown to my next novel, The Pyrite War, launching on September 10. Here’s who we’ve met this week…

Also last week…




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