After such a disappointing latter-half of the season last year, I have been pretty happy with How I Met Your Mother's two episodes thus far this season. Last night in particular was hugely funny. I spent a good long time thinking about exactly what it was so funny, and I think that the answer is that it was a small plot. There wasn't much story to get out, so the show was able to concentrate on bringing the funny instead of exposition.
It had the flavor of Seinfeld's Chinese restaurant episode, which for my money is one of the single greatest sitcom episodes ever written. The basic plot last night featured the HIMYM gang helping Marshall on his quest to rediscover the greatest hamburger in the city of New York. They were doing it not just for their own edification, but to help their friend cope with his depression over his unemployment.
The audience was pretty much clear on the fact that Marshall took (or was going to take) a job at Goliath National Bank (which Barney's company had just purchased). This allowed us to sit back and watch the goings-on with an air of amusement more than a sense of concern (always helpful in a comedy).
The episode itself was full of fantastic one-liners as the gang ate hamburgers ate three different places in an attempt to find Marshall's burger. Some of them were a bit more racy than I would have imagined that the producers could have gotten away with, but I was thrilled that they did.
The episode was just chock full of goodness, which wasn't a sense that I got from the second episode of Boston Legal's final season. I checked out the opening credits last night to see who was still there at the firm, and confirmed my suspicion that so many of the secondary characters from last year were in fact gone. I didn't really care too much for many of the secondary characters, but the offices do seem empty without them. Jerry and Katie are great as secondary figures, but the lack of other associates I find perplexing.
Trying to find the silver lining about the cast, I decided that a paired down cast will mean that John Larroquette's character ought to get more storylines and more screen time. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's actually a little amazing if you think about it – Boston Legal may not have a huge secondary group of characters anymore, but they have an absolutely incredible set of main actors. Consider it, they have James Spader, William Shatner, Candace Bergen, and John Larroquette. That's a pretty impressive roster for a show on its last legs. I guess most of the money on the production is going to those folks' salaries, which is why there isn't much to spare for anyone else.
Finally, and briefly, Heroes seems to be on a good track so far this season. The Sylar-HRG relationship is an odd one, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that plays out. I don't imagine that they'll remain cordial very long (even one can consider them cordial right now), but we'll have to see. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe HRG will decide that Sylar's "methods" of eliminating the villains are more important than what Sylar did to his daughter.
Nah, that's not believable even for superhero-based show.