How I Met Your Mother (US - DVD R1)
Jonathan watches The Complete Season Seven of the popular series..
With both a baby and a wedding on the way, change is in the air and awesomeness abounds in the hilariously unpredictable Season Seven of How I Met Your Mother. As Marshall and Lily move away to start their family, Ted continues the search for the woman of his dreams. Meanwhile, Robin reveals a shocking secret and special guest star Katie Holmes joins the fun in the long-awaited return of the Slutty Pumpkin! And, wedding bells are ringing at last for confirmed bachelor Barney, but why is he wearing that ridiculous ducky tie, and just who is the "lucky" lady? (From the Fox synopsis)
How I Met Your Mother is one of those sitcoms I've always enjoyed with some reservations. Despite an outdated laugh track, lots of forced callbacks and some really uninspired guest star appearances, How I Met Your Mother stays afloat on the sheer likability of its five leads. Josh Radnor (whose indie filmmaking efforts I have yet to explore) makes a likable and relatable character out of Ted Mosby. Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel have wonderful chemistry as Marshall and Lily. I wasn't crazy about Cobie Smulder's presence in The Avengers but I've always liked her on this show as Robin. Most of the humor that revolves around her Canadian heritage and her father raising her as a boy hits the mark. Against all odds, I still find Neil Patrick Harris's Barney Stinson character to be a riot. Even when his schtick grows tiresome, Harris's delivery makes the material work.
Season Seven features more of the same type of humor that fans have come to expect from the series, but it does feel like the show is relying on a lot more gimmickry to keep the viewer watching than it has in the past. This season has an excess of flash-forward and signposting narration. A lot of the humor is starting to feel stale too. There are a lot of internal monologues, which I've never found funny in this show. There's a slew of guest stars that didn't do anything for me. Martin Short wasn't given anything funny to work with and Kal Penn's character was sadly boring. Wayne Brady makes another appearance on the show but it doesn't stand out. It's unfortunate to see some real comedic talents go to waste.
This season does have its highlights though. There's a particularly hilarious episode where Barney makes a bet with Lily that he can perform every trick that their Japanese steak house server can do. If he wins, he gets to see Lily topless. If he loses, he has to wear a hokey duck tie for a year. If you can't tell from the caps or the fact that this DVD set is called "the ducky tie edition", he loses, but the way events unfold to seal his fate are an example of the show at its very best. The season also ends on a high note. Without spoiling anything, it starts to bring some of the main characters arcs to a close in a nice way. Supposedly season eight is going to be the final season of the series, and it's about time. On one hand you can feel the shows antics becoming stale in this latest season, but the longer this show goes on, the more it turns into this long-winded story of a guy who cannot get his life together. It's time to bring it to a close, and I'm glad the writers are aware of this.
Fox brings this season to DVD with a relatively good transfer. For some reason season four was the only one that got the Blu-ray treatment, so this standard definition release is likely the best we'll get. There are noticeable compression artefacts, like blocking, throughout the season. It is mostly confined to darker areas of the pictures where it is not a major distraction. This is likely due to the fact that approximately 3 hours of material are crammed onto each of these DVD-9 discs. Its understandable from an economic standpoint, but it doesn't make for the most pristine image. Other than compression issues, this image holds up just as good as any other modern DVD release. I've got no complaints about color or the level of detail present here. The image is consistent with previous season releases, so fans that have been buying those and enjoying them have nothing to worry about here.
There isn't a whole lot to say about the audio in How I Met Your Mother. It is a modest sitcom that is probably only in 5.1 because that is today's standard. There is really no need for the extra channels, and the sound design doesn't really make any use of it. I noticed a few instances of ambient noise in the rear channels, and there is some light rain in one of the outdoor scenes that makes use of them too, but that is about it. The soundtrack will sometimes utilize the front stereo speakers, opening up the front of the room nicely, but for the most part everything sticks to the center channel. Dialogue, which is the primary focus here, sounds perfectly fine and is very easy to make out in the mix.
There are three Audio Commentaries spread out over the set. On the first disc there is a commentary for the episode 'The Best Man' with writers/producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. On the second disc there is one for 'The Drunk Train' with production staff members Craig Gerard and Matthew Zinman. On the last disc there is one for 'Karma' with Neil Patrick Harris and actress Becki Newton. There also Deleted Scenes spread out over the three discs, making for approximately 12 minutes of deleted footage in total.
Neil Patrick Harris Gets His Star (04:32) is a delightful short look at Neil Patrick Harris getting a star on the Walk of Fame. He is given admiring speeches by Jason Segel and Joss Whedon, then talks himself for a bit. Guest Star Powers (3:32) is a goofy little segment with some of the shows guest stars like Chris Elliot, Kal Penn, Weird Al and Wayne Brady. They're asked to show off any special talents they have, and none of them end up being particularly special. Didn't get a laugh out of me but if you find these people funny you might find it worth a watch.
How We Wrote Your Mother: The True Stories Behind some of HIMYM's Bits (09:48) is an informative little segment where executive producers and writers discuss some of the writing process for the show and how some episodes were inspired by the lives of the writers. Basically, if a plot in the show involved alcohol, it probably came from a writer's personal experiences. One plot line was inspired by something that happened to Neil Patrick Harris, and they talk with him on set as he describes the real story.
How We Make Your Mother (09:05) is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the season's final episode. There's some interview footage and some on-set footage, as well as a look into one of the shows special effects. There's some wardrobe footage too. It's an enjoyable but brief look at the on-set environment. Last but not least is the Gag Reel (04:42), which is probably my favorite thing on this DVD set. The cast members seem to have a ball making this show, and watching them mess around, laugh during takes, and even break pieces of the set in one instance is a lot of fun. The older season's gag reels are really enjoyable too.
Season Seven of How I Met Your Mother has some great moments, but more often than not it feels like the shows humor has outstayed its welcome. Thankfully the writers are wrapping it up in Season Eight, which I'll happily watch out of adoration for the talented cast. After seven long seasons they've established a chemistry with one another that few shows can achieve, and they can make the most of some stale writing. Fans who have bought previous seasons of the show will get more of the same here. The AV is good for a standard definition release, and there's plenty of enjoyable extras including another hilarious gag reel.
Review by Jonathan Hogberg
Release Date: 2nd October 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Neil Patrick Harris Gets His Star, Guest Star Powers, How We Wrote Your Mother, How We Make Your Mother, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Audio Commentary on Select Episodes
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan
Genre: Comedy and Romance
Length: 516 minutes
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