As you recall I've been telling you about how in the late 2000s and early 2010s I've been watching a sitcom called How I Met Your Mother. You probably remember me talking about the exemplary Season Three pretty vividly, in fact. Well, now I'm going to tell you about the year that everything changed. But before I get into that, I have to first tell you about something that happened back in the 1970s.
You see, back then there was a TV show called Happy Days. And in one episode, a character named Fonzie, wearing swimming trunks along with his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a shark on water skis to prove his bravery. In the years to come that moment would become infamous and begin a pop culture idiom describing the moment in any TV show's run when the show begins to get away from itself, loses its magic and cohesiveness that had once hooked viewers, reaches a point where things can't go back to the way they were and continues onward nevertheless. Specifically, it was the moment where watching a show stopped being quite so fun.
Kids, it pains me to say this, but I believe season six of How I Met Your Mother contained the moment where that show jumped the shark.
There are lots of ways for a show to jump the shark, be it introducing a new main character or set of characters, characters getting married or having a baby, and, in fact, this season of How I Met Your Mother actually included all of those (or made it clear that they will be happening shortly) but none of those are when this show jumped the shark.
How I Met Your Mother introduced a parade of new characters in season six, including Glitter (Nicole Scherzinger), Punchy (Chris Romano), The Captain (Kyle MacLachlan) and The Blitz (Lost's Jorge Garcia). There were also new characters with regular names too, like Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) who became the sixth member of "the group" after beginning the season as Ted's enemy.
Let me pause for a moment here, kids, just to let you know that I'm going to be getting into some real spoilers from this season. I'm going to do this to illustrate a few points but also because, let's face it, you 2030 kids today with your holographic cell phones won't have the patience to dig up an old DVD player to actually watch the show for yourself.
One of the main story arcs in season six revolved around Ted (Josh Radnor), who as you recall is the "I" in How I Met Your Mother, being contracted by Goliath National Bank to design their new headquarters and Ted's personal conundrum when he realized that the site for his new building is where the architectural landmark "The Arcadian" currently resided. While staring at The Arcadian and wrestling with his desire to add his own touch to New York's skyline at the cost of being responsible for the demolition of a landmark, Ted met Zoey, an activist protesting GNB's plans. When Zoey learned that Ted was the architect responsible for the project, derailing his confidence became her one and only goal. Eventually they start dating, but it was clear from the get-go it wouldn't last, despite the fact that the rest of Ted's friends accepted her into their group.
Meanwhile, Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan), having convinced themselves that they'd seen the fifth doppelganger at the end of the previous season, began trying to have a baby. This ended up taking the duration of the season with Lily realizing she's finally pregnant in the season finale. Viewers already knew that she would end up getting pregnant from earlier in the season when Narrator Ted (Bob Saget) revealed that she would be pregnant the following year, and in the show's previous season when he stated that Marshall quit smoking for good the day his son was born.
While a marriage ceremony didn't actually take place this season, the characters are shown at a future wedding, Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris), where it was revealed to be the time and place where Ted will eventually meet the future mother of his children.
With all these potential jump the shark moments present in season six, the actual moment of change was something seemingly much more mundane. It was when Barney met his real dad.
Earlier in the season, Barney's brother James (Wayne Brady), met his real dad, Sam (Ben Vereen), and, in some very amusing scenes, it became clear that Barney desperately wanted to have a father figure in his life. Also, in a particularly hilarious episode in season two, when Barney believed that his father was Bob Barker he went to great lengths to try to win his supposed father's approval by winning every game on The Price Is Right. However, when Barney does end up meeting his real father at the end of season six, he does a complete 180 and feels that his father should win Barney's approval instead of the other way around. It was a situation that wasn't nearly as funny as when Barney was trying to win the approval of his false fathers, and it seemed to suck the funny out of the whole show.
On top of that, the death of Marshall's father earlier in the season created even less humorous situations when Barney insisted on complaining about his dad and Marshall angrily responded, "at least you have a dad." Does that sound like the same hilarious show I've been telling you about for the past five years, kids? Nope.
That's not to say that season six didn't have its share of laughs earlier on, though. The episode where Jorge Garcia guest starred as a temporary member of the group was particularly funny, as was the one where Marshall's parents dropped in unexpectedly while he was trying to have his fertility tested. This was also the season that more of Robin's (Cobie Smulders) backstory as Canadian pop star Robin Sparkles was amusingly revealed via a surprisingly dirty Canadian children's show. And who could forget the classic "Boats Boats Boats" commercial starring Robin's latest unprofessional co-anchor, Becky (Laura Bell Bundy)?
As I recall, the DVD release of season six came with several bonus features, including the usual gag reel, deleted scenes and commentary on a few episodes; really typical stuff for a TV show DVD release of that era. There was also a look behind the scenes at the filming of two episodes, "Subway Wars" and "Glitter," and a feature entitled "What We Know About Your Mother So Far" which was a round-up of many of the facts we'd come to learn about the mystery woman over the course of the first six seasons, including all the characters she definitely wasn't.
So, kids, you're probably wondering what happened after all this, whether How I Met Your Mother really did jump the shark in its sixth season, or whether it was just a temporary downturn in the frivolity of what was normally a pretty hilarious and often even goofy-to-a-cartoony-extent show. But that's a story for another time. Give me a year to collect my thoughts about season seven and I'll get back to you. In the meantime, can you show me one more time how to recalibrate the depth settings on my hologram-projecting cell phone? I swear, I'll never get the hang of this thing.