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Watching TV: "HIMYM," " "The Bachelor," Other Notes

By admin Published: January 4, 2011

On Sunday I ran down some of the new offerings on TV in the weeks ahead. and said my piece about "V," which is better than it was but in a pulpy, '80s-soap kind of way. I should say something about "Southland," which also resumes tonight, but I've never been so entranced by the show that I summoned the energy to look at new episodes. Or most of the old ones.

I did watch some other things, noted above, and will discuss after the jump.

What the hell was that on "How I Met Your Mother"? The show has had its serious moments before. But to follow a long stretch of relatively good silliness and masturbation jokes with a death? If nothing else, I admire the show's chutzpah. It's always been willing to try different directions in storytelling, and one could argue that it was warning everyone that something big was coming at the end. I missed the numbers bit -- and so was baffled by the big number on the medical file -- but in its Robin recaps in particular, it said very clearly this is a show that aims to startle as well as amuse.

But still. Marshall's dad? It was one of those big turns that still hurts. And it's one that puts tremendous pressure on the show from here on -- not only to justify that kind of big drama, but to show whether it can follow it with comedy. It was like something out of "Hill Street Blues" -- which could be crazy and comical and then, without warning, kill someone. But "Hill Street" (like its many successors and imitators) was fundamentally a drama, and the burden and expectations were radically different than they are for "HIMYM."

This next bit is not for children: Last night also provided more than one example of a little way in which television shows are pushing content -- by using the word "coming" in double-entendre contexts. Two of Monday's comedies did so. And I am not saying they weren't clever. Just wondering how long before the double entendre will be dropped in favor of a single.

Dutifully, if not happily, watched "The Bachelor's" latest premiere. And thought, not for the first time, about the way the show used to be about finding love. Now it's just about personalities: in this case, the latest bachelor's pleas for forgiveness for his last stint on the show, and the eccentricities of the bachelorettes. Fangs? Really?

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