Merlin – Magic and Anthony Stewart Head

A friend of mine linked to an interview about the upcoming season four of Merlin, which gives a few hints about what’s to come (and mentioned news I hadn’t heard yet – season four will have a full 13-episode run instead of the 10 originally slated). It got me thinking about how much that show influenced my diving into the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

For one thing, it made me more comfortable watching a show about magic. I grew up in a house where The Chronicles of Narnia were just barely on the side of good, and videos were stopped or gotten rid of if the magic got too black (sometimes even if it was just the bad guys). I realize everyone has their limits and convictions (and even my parents have gotten less restrictive over the years), but it wasn’t until lately that I discovered how slow I was to try out shows with speculative elements.

Much in the way the first season of Angel and the show Being Human sparked my interest in redemptive stories about vampires (too bad Twilight doused that interest for a time), Merlin showed me how magic could up the stakes of stories since it could be a powerful force for good or evil. Big, scary monsters and spells mixed with comedy and growing up – it worked for Buffy and it’s working for Merlin.

The other push Merlin gave me towards watching Buffy was the actor Anthony Stewart Head (who plays King Uther on Merlin and Giles on BTVS). I still find it hard to believe he’s the only common denominator between the two shows. It’s kind of funny to contrast his anti-magic stance on Merlin with him owning a magic shop and doing spells on Buffy. But on both shows he’s a respected father figure. Giles’ dry wit and exasperated looks are missed, though, as Head has to be a far more stoic king (and almost a villain at times). I’m looking forward to what Merlin’s writers will do with his character in season four, after the traumatic events at the end of season three.

NCIS: Los Angeles – Kensi and Deeks

Since I’m a huge fan of NCIS, it was only natural that I’d try out its spin-off show, NCIS: Los Angeles. The two-part “Legend” intro on NCIS held a lot of promise, but an additional nudge toward the show was that it starred Chris O’Donnell. I’d really enjoyed his acting in movies like The Three Musketeers and The Bachelor.

The show got off to a bit of a rough start. Oh, sure, the acting was decent, the plots had plenty of twists, and there were lots of “cool” extras like high-end equipment, action scenes, and undercover gigs. But the chemistry between team members felt awkward and forced, and backstory details seemed invented specifically for each episode instead of building on each other to create full characters.

Now that the show is wrapping up its second season, both individual characters and the team as a whole seem more unified and realistic. And through some casting changes there have been some pleasant surprises, one of whom is the character of Marty Deeks.

Deeks, played by Eric Christian Olsen (who I recognized instantly as Vaughn from Community), entered the show late in season one and eventually became Kensi Blye’s partner. Pairing the two of them up was brilliant. The contrast of strong, confident woman who gets the job done and doesn’t put up with shenanigans with the playful, annoying, yet always has her back guy reminds me of other crime show partners,  most notably Tony and Kate from the early days of NCIS, and Castle and Beckett from Castle.

A few recent episodes underscore how the two of them are growing together as a team. “Personal” showed it in an overt way, with life-threatening obstacles. “The Job,” while containing danger as well, focused more on the underlying emotional stress of the work done, and how partners can and should support each through that.

Oh, and I can’t post about NCIS: LA without mentioning Hetty. She is the heart of the show, and I hope rumors about her being replaced aren’t true. I loved the episode in season one (“Brimstone”) where she quotes The Three Musketeers as the credits begin to roll: “Go home, find a wench, raise fat babies, live a good long life.”

Angel – Outlasting Buffy

Season five of Angel is a bit of an oddity. Since Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s end (at least on TV) coincided with the end of Angel season 4, the show finds itself in the awkward place of trying to wrap up two shows at once. This is heightened by the appearance of Spike, arguably the most popular character of Buffy’s final seasons.

While most viewers seem to enjoy both shows, from reviews I’ve gathered that many Angel-only fans really resent Spike stealing the limelight. It doesn’t help that Spike is given more of the interesting character development in the early half of the season, while Angel just seems grumpy – all the time.

Though Angel captured my interest as a show far more quickly than Buffy did, for quite some time I’ve preferred Sunnydale to LA. So every allusion to BTVS on Angel brings a wave of sweet nostalgia. I only wish they could have incorporated more characters and storylines, or better yet, simply merged the two shows. As entertaining as Angel and Spike’s arguments over Buffy’s affections are, wouldn’t they have been more fun if Buffy was actually there? But since BTVS’s end seemed to be a mutual decision with the cast (especially Sarah Michelle Gellar) and crew wanting to end on a high note, I can see why more Sunnydale characters didn’t migrate to Los Angeles.

I didn’t realize how much I missed the whole Scooby gang until Andrew showed up in episode 11, “Damages.” I hadn’t been fond of Andrew’s character in BTVS, though by the end of the show his geeky ways had grown on me a bit. But as soon as he appeared on Angel I realized that I’d actually missed his character. And I loved that he shared what everyone from Sunnydale was up to. The best part was his weeping, hugging, Lord-of-the-Rings-quoting reaction to Spike being alive. That was really needed. Everyone on Angel either didn’t know Spike before he showed up or didn’t want him alive. Andrew managed to sum up all the feelings of the certain Scoobies who would have loved the news, plus all the fans’ joy at Spike’s return.

Episode 12, “You’re Welcome,” continues the walk down memory lane, this time focusing on the early days of Angel with Cordelia’s reappearance. Again, this was a character I hadn’t been fond of but had grown to like, and having her show up for one episode brought a warm feeling of homecoming.

The episode also addressed Connor’s removal from the memory of Wesley, Fred, Gunn, and Lorne, which had really been bugging me. In a way, it’s the opposite of Dawn’s appearance in Buffy season five. But while the addition of a side character didn’t change past events much in Buffy, the removal of a central character in Angel leaves way too many dangling plot threads. For example, why was Wesley with Lilah? If Connor hadn’t been there, Wesley would have stayed with Team Angel and never gotten all dark and broody. Episode 18, “Origin,” did clear up a bit of the confusion, but that aspect still bothers me.

I really would have hated “The Girl in Question” (episode 20) if I didn’t find out from the comic that it wasn’t even really Buffy in Rome and dating The Immortal. It seemed out of character for her (unless she was getting close to him for a mission). She’s already kind of in love with both Angel and Spike – throwing in an odd character who happens to be the nemesis of both would be way too melodramatic. But it just adds to the hilarity of the episode to find out the whole cover story was Andrew’s idea.

What I’d really like to know is when does Buffy discover Spike’s alive? I’d thought Andrew might have spilled the beans after “Damages,” but since Buffy’s not even in Rome with him it’s unlikely. Giles might have overheard Spike when he was on the phone with Angel in episode 15 – at least, at that point it didn’t seem like Spike or Angel was trying to keep the info secret. And in “The Girl in Question” there is no mention of the fact that Buffy doesn’t know yet, and if she didn’t, wouldn’t Spike still be dealing with the awkwardness of all of it? Maybe the comics have the answer – I’ve only read the first so far.

HIMYM – The Exploding Meatball Sub

Now that I’m caught up with How I Met Your Mother, I really miss being able to watch half a dozen new episodes all at once. And tonight’s episode was only the second new episode airing since February, which made me even more eager to laugh at the gang’s continuing adventures (especially since the last one was more serious).

After my recent Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon, it was almost shocking to see Alyson Hannigan playing a character other than Willow (I guess 7 seasons of a 45-minute show outweigh almost 6 seasons of a 20-minute show). Maybe I’ve just overdosed too much on Joss Whedon lately, because Barney made me think of Dr. Horrible in nearly every scene, and I haven’t watched that in months (though the lab coat and safety goggles in this episode of HIMYM were a fun nod to the character).

All that aside, this episode hit all the right notes. (Spoilers follow!) From the dreamy nostalgic “I Will Remember You” moments to Robin’s harrowing tale of the clock and the secret grave, the laughter never stopped coming. The contrast of Marshall and Lily’s relationship with Ted and Zoe’s was great, and I loved when Ted and Lily finally shared their difficulties with each other (the show really does need more Ted/Lily moments – it’s rare that we see them together without the whole group anymore). And of course Barney’s seemingly emotional meltdown over Marshall leaving the company was only regret at the delay of his overblown revenge plot.

The differing views on Tommy Boy were also fun.

Angel – Brooding Older Sibling

Even though I’ve unintentionally seen quite a few spoilers regarding the Buffyverse (and watching season one of Angel first didn’t help), I am still trying to watch both series “in order” as I progress. I’m following the Buffyfest episode order list, which has proved very helpful. I even watched season one of Angel again. (And in case you’re wondering, I highly recommend watching “Fool for Love” before “Darla,” to better get the full impact of Spike’s backstory.)

Near the end of the list, you can start watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel without having to worry about crossovers for a season and a half. When episodes ended on cliffhangers or with a bunch of unresolved questions, I tended to stick with that show for another episode or two. Or dozen.

The end result was that I was a full season ahead watching Buffy versus watching Angel. It surprised me. After all, I’d given up on Buffy after only two episodes the first time I tried watching, while for Angel I’d watched every episode I could at the time on Hulu.

Why did Buffy grip me when Angel didn’t? I’m not sure, but I have a few ideas. Yes, it was seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy versus seasons 3 and 4 of Angel, but I’d “known” the core characters (Angel and Cordelia) of Angel for the same amount of time as the core characters of Buffy.

Spike’s story arc was one aspect that pulled my interest toward Buffy. I never expected to like his character so much. I was a huge Buffy/Angel fan, so I expected to hate Spike. But his humor, British accent, and hopeless romanticism won me over.

Connected to that is the type of humor found in each of the shows. I laugh far more often watching Buffy than watching Angel. Angel isn’t a lighthearted spin-off show – it’s a brooding older brother to the more carefree younger sister that is Buffy.

Consider two similar episodes – “Tabula Rasa” on Buffy and “Spin the Bottle” on Angel. In both, the memories of most of main characters are wiped away for a good portion of the episode. “Tabula Rasa” is hilarious, with everyone screaming at the sight of vampires and Spike thinking he’s Giles’ son. While “Spin the Bottle” does have a few lighter moments, such as Fred thinking aliens caused the confusion, I didn’t laugh once.

Since I’m so far behind on Angel, I have to watch a bunch of episodes before I have the luxury of watching another Buffy episode. And the dark angst can get so overwhelming that I long for one of Buffy’s witty retorts, Xander’s jests during awkward or dangerous moments, or Spike’s cutting repartees.

In relation to Joss Whedon’s other works, I’d have to say that Buffy is more like Firefly with its blend of varied senses of humor, while Angel echoes the darker edge of Dollhouse.

Would Angel have been a lighter, more humor-filled show if Doyle had been able to stick around? I believe so. While I love Wesley’s character, most of his laughable moments were in his early incompetent days. Gunn is stoic. Angel broods a lot. Even Lorne, who seems to be put in as a “lighter” character, has a dismal outlook far too much of the time. Fred is more cute than funny, and Cordelia lost most of her ditzy ways early in the show.

I am looking forward to watching season five of Angel, and finding out how Spike’s addition to the cast will change things. Hopefully he’ll bring some of the humor from Buffy with him.

The Cape – Farewell

When a show is cut from 13 episodes to 10, and then the final episode is only aired online, it’s pretty safe to say that the show will be canceled. While it’s a sad ending for The Cape, I’m glad NBC at least gave fans the opportunity to watch the last episode.

I first remember the extremely vague teasers for the show. They were frustrating. I wanted to know what kind of show it was – historical? speculative? action? Then I found out Summer Glau (best known as River from Firefly) was going to be on it, and I knew I’d at least be watching the pilot.

The pilot was engaging enough for me to keep watching. A cop is framed and presumably killed, but is rescued by a criminal carnival troupe. With their help, he becomes The Cape, a superhero without supernatural abilities, who fights crime, looks out for his wife and son, and plans to bring down the man who framed him.

The visual effects and soundtrack for the show are stunning. The cast is a mix of decent to exceptional actors, and the overall story arc was pretty good. The intrigue built with each episode, but a few plot holes and unclear motivations marred the story. And it was full of dichotomies – a dark, gritty feel with very few actual deaths, a superhero without any powers, a dad putting his family through emotional hell to avoid possible physical danger.

Like No Ordinary Family, The Cape seems to be trying to blend a family show with the superhero genre, with mixed results. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a “must watch.” I mostly liked the fact that it fit nicely between Chuck and Castle for my Monday night Firefly trifecta (Jayne from Firefly is Casey on Chuck; Mal from Firefly is Castle on Castle). I was hoping they’d explore more of Glau’s character Orwell, but the most they gave was in dream sequences during the two-part “The Lich.”

I feel the show would have succeeded better if they’d decided to lean one way or the other – making the show darker and delve more into characters and motivations, or give it a lighter spin and inject some humor.

In all, it’s worth watching, but I don’t plan to get it on DVD. But if the soundtrack ever comes out, I’ll definitely buy it. It would make great writing music.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Changes

As I get further into the Buffyverse, I’m not liking some of the new things that are cropping up. The first three seasons were awesome, but season four was a bit of a letdown (I’ve read that it’s the worst season of the seven so I’m not alone in this). I suppose since I watched season one of Angel first that I grew attached to his character, so his absence in the later seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is something I’m still getting used to.

Not that I mind Riley – I’ve enjoyed Marc Blucas’ acting in several movies (and even an episode of Castle). And I enjoyed Spike being in the story more – he’s hilarious.

I miss Oz. I feel they could have done a lot more with his character. And Willow went from being one of my favorite characters in the first three seasons to someone I could barely relate to, and from spoilers I’ve caught it sounds like it will only get worse.

The science vs. supernatural worked well for the plot arc of season four, and Adam as a combination of the two was a truly creepy “big bad.” I also enjoyed catching the crossovers with season one of Angel as I rewatched it.

Now with the start of season five of Buffy we have another big change – the addition of Buffy’s little sister Dawn. I knew she was coming in later seasons, so I noticed the two or three times Buffy is mentioned as an only child in earlier seasons. But I didn’t expect Dawn to be so awkwardly dropped into the show. Seriously, Buffy’s parents are divorced – couldn’t they have made it that Dawn was living with her father in Los Angeles up until this point instead of pretending that she’d been in Sunnydale this whole time? And I think it would have been far more interesting for Dawn not to know that Buffy was the Slayer at first and have to figure it out. Her initial reaction would have be much more compelling than the whiny intro she is given instead.

White Collar – Con Man vs. Lawman

I don’t remember what first perked my interest in the show White Collar. I likely heard something about it while watching another USA network show such as Psych or Burn Notice. And generally, if a show is on USA, I usually don’t need to hear anything else to try it out, or at least watch a few promos and uncover the premise.

If I wasn’t hooked already, the first five minutes of the pilot episode would have been enough to do so. It opens in a prison, where an inmate shaves his beard, changes into a guard’s uniform, swipes a forged key card, and proceeds to walk out the front door. That is our first introduction to Neal Caffrey, con artist extraordinaire.

FBI agent Peter Burke, the only man who’s ever been able to catch Caffrey, is called in. He deduces the reason Neal would escape with only a few months left on his four-year sentence, and brings him back in with four more years added to his sentence.

But con artists know how other con artists work, and Neal is able to strike a deal with the FBI – serve out the remaining years while working to catch other criminals for the FBI’s white collar crime division, under the supervision of Agent Burke.

Peter’s solidness and by-the-book methods contrast with Neal’s charm and out-of-the-box thinking, and the two gradually come to trust each other. Since the show focuses on white-collar crimes, it’s a refreshing change from most crime dramas’ “murder of the week” scenarios. It also keeps the show free from most gruesome images, sensual scenes, and crude language.

Neal is played by Matt Bomer, who had a reoccurring role in Chuck as Brice Larkin. And I can’t write about White Collar without mentioning Neal’s friend, Mozzie, an OCD conspiracy theorist who doesn’t trust Feds (or as he calls them, suits. Peter is the Suit, his wife Elizabeth is Mrs. Suit, and FBI agent Diana is Lady Suit).

White Collar just finished season two, ending a major plot arch and adding a final twist for the cliffhanger. I must admit, though, it wasn’t nearly as powerful of an ending as the previous 3 (season one ending and the two mid-season breaks). In a way, I’m grateful, as those 3 made me nearly go crazy waiting to find out what happened. This one has far less emotional ties.

I’m still ambivalent about White Collar adding Sara Ellis as a permanent member of the cast for season three. I didn’t feel much chemistry between her and Neal these last few episodes, though I think they had some earlier this season.

Even though the season didn’t end as strongly as I hoped, much of season two was excellent, particularly the third episode from the end, “Payback,” the mid-season finale “Point Blank,” and the retrospective “Forging Bonds.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Coming Full Circle

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my very first introduction to the world of Joss Whedon – and it didn’t capture me. I had heard some good things about the show, so I watched the two-episode opening in August 2008, and thought it a bit campy. Looking back now, I probably should have given it more of a chance, but with my slow internet at home, I could barely watch 4 shows a week over lunch at work. It was also the first time I’d watched anything about vampires, and to be honest, it creeped me out a little.

I didn’t give up on Joss, though. I figured maybe I’d enjoy one of his other shows, so I tried Firefly – and loved it! Less than two weeks after watching the first episode, I’d finished the entire series and the movie. A few days later I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which was also excellent.

I figured that perhaps the high-school cheesiness was what bothered me about Buffy. Maybe the show Angel, which seemed aimed more at twenty-somethings, would be an improvement. Hulu had the entire first season, so I watched it and enjoyed it. Returning fall shows crowded out my viewing time.

By the time Dollhouse came out in early 2009, I had become a rabid Whedon fan, so there was no question of whether or not I’d watch the show. I loved the action, the humor, and the mind-twists it put me through. Seeing a few Firefly actors was also a nice plus.

A year after Dollhouse ended (almost to the day), the combination of three things made me come full circle to retry watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One, with the new Hulu Plus, I now had access to all seven seasons of Buffy and all five of Angel. Two, I had a renewed interest in redemptive vampire stories after discovering Being Human.

And three, I realized several actors I didn’t know the first time around were a huge part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course I “knew” Angel and Cordelia from the first season of Angel, but there were others. I now watched Darla on No Ordinary Family. And Giles I knew as King Uther on Merlin. But the primary reason I tried watching Buffy again? Alyson Hannigan, who plays Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lily on How I Met Your Mother.

And I guess second time’s the charm, because I’m on season two and loving it! Yes, it does have its corny moments, and sometimes low-budget special effects (reminds me a bit of Merlin in both ways), but it’s a show with heart and humor.

(Now that I’m thinking about it – there are tons of similarities between the shows Merlin and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So many, in fact, that I’m shocked that Anthony Head is the only common denominator between the two shows. Not only do they share similar corny moments and special effects, they also have the whole similar “monster/demon/creepy spell of the week” thing. The main characters’ ages are similar, and there’s the whole “forbidden love that is meant to be” aspect. Gaius and Giles play very similar roles advising and doing research in dusty books. And of course, in both shows characters live a double life, hiding their gifts. I’ll probably find even more as I continue watching both shows.)

If you’re not sure you’ll like Buffy, give the show at least 4-5 episodes before you make a final decision. This show grows on you. 🙂

Nikita – Intense Intrigue

I think it was a Hulu ad that first alerted me to the show Nikita. I wasn’t familiar with any of the previous renderings of the characters and storyline – in fact, I was several episodes in before I realized this wasn’t a brand new show.

The premise of the show intrigued me. A rogue agent taking down a corrupt agency and an undercover agent helping her from the inside. It alone was enough to get me to watch the first episode. I didn’t recognize the actors (the only one I might have noticed in the ad was Shane West), and I generally don’t watch CW shows.

The pilot episode blew me away. Great acting, great plot. Intense action sequences and deep back stories. Intrigue, manipulation, and hidden agendas. And more than that, it filled the missing place I’d had since another show I loved was canceled. That show? Dollhouse.

Before all the Whedonites jump down my throat, let me say that it’s not exactly like Dollhouse or even as good as Dollhouse. There is one Whedon-verse connection on the show, however – Amanda (who channels Adelle from the early episodes of Dollhouse) is played by Melinda Clarke, who also plays Nandi from the Firefly episode Heart of Gold.

Every episode of Nikita delves deeper into the characters. That plus the twisting plotlines makes me feel like I’ve watched the show for two seasons when I’m only 16 episodes (of 22) into the first season.

My favorite character on the show is Michael, played by Shane West. I’d only seen him before on A Walk to Remember, which I’d enjoyed, but not to the point where I looked for him in other movies and shows. After Nikita, however, he moved to my top 20 (if not my top 10) favorite actors. He plays the brooding, conflicted hero so well. And it’s surprising, because he doesn’t seem to have too much that typical “brooding look” many actors do (hint – they’re often cast as vampires). He has to show that brooding in a more subtle and difficult way through his acting.

Maggie Q as Nikita seems a bit cold, but she’s a trained assassin on a mission, so anything else would seem out of place. And that makes her emotional moments all the more poignant.

I only knew Lyndsy Fonseca (who plays Alex, the young undercover agent-in-training) as the daughter in the opening sequences of How I Met Your Mother. Her acting seems slightly overplayed (more dramatic), which works well against Maggie’s underplayed acting.

To round out the cast, you have the power-hungry and manipulative Percy, the poised but lethal Amanda, and the spineless computer genius Birkhoff, plus other recruits, agents, guards, and allies.

To up the show’s pull, episodes end with a final cliffhanging scene that makes you beg for the next episode. This past week’s episode’s was a doozy! And only after watching it did I realize that the show is off the air for 5 whole weeks. I’m going to go crazy! (And yes, that’s why I’m blogging about it now, to keep myself sane as I anticipate the wait!)

Castle – Lotto Cash, Lotto Suspects

Castle is one of those rare shows I fell in love with before the first episode ended.

Of course, the premise was chock-full of things to make me fall in love with it.

Genre? Check. I love crime dramas. I’m currently watching about 8 different ones that are still running.

Actor? Check. I’ve been a fan of Nathan Fillion since the first episode of Firefly.

Setting? Check. New York City is awesome.

And then they threw in the clincher – the show is about a writer. And not just any kind of writer, but a novelist.

I didn’t need to watch it to love it.

But on top of all that promise, they added other great actors (especially the lovely Stana Katic), beautiful visuals, and a stellar script.

I think it was destined to become one of my favorite shows.

After last week’s intense episode, I was looking forward how Castle would return to a “typical” episode this week without being boring. They succeeded. From Castle’s insistence that the butler did it to the rapping brothers, this episode had hairpin turns, humor, and heart. The only thing that seemed lacking was that Ryan and Esposito’s conversation about Lanie was a bit too short.

Blue Bloods – Family Crimefighting

Blue Bloods, CBS’s new crime drama, is one of the few shows I picked up this fall season. Too be honest, I wasn’t sure that I needed one more crime drama on my plate, but I’d enjoyed Donnie Wahlberg in Rizzoli & Isles over the summer, so I decided to watch a few episodes before I made up my mind.

The show surprised me. The great acting and sleek presentation reminded me of ABC’s Castle (which is currently tied with NCIS for my top crime drama, and is also set in New York City). But instead of Castle’s humor and writing references, Blue Bloods chooses one distinctive quality to make it stand out from the crowd – family.

It’s a quality that works extremely well, making the character-driven aspects of the show strong. It has also made the show thrive in the usually dead zone of Friday nights. While Blue Bloods has many elements that appeal to TV’s prime viewing target range (18-34-year-olds), the family dynamic lets the show reach the heart of the people who are more likely to be home on a Friday night – namely, families.

Tonight’s episode had a special treat – guest star Gloria Votsis, who plays Alex in the show White Collar.

Chuck – Is He or Isn’t He?

Warning: This post may contain spoilers, up to Chuck season 4, episode 10.

Okay, I don’t know about you all, but I’m not sure that Chuck’s dad is dead. I mean, they killed him in the same building that was used to bring Daniel Shaw back after being shot. And it makes sense that the Ring would want him alive, with all of his knowledge and abilities. The only reason he was killed was to disable Chuck.

I’m curious where the show’s going to go now that Chuck has the intersect working again. Was it just me, or was the line, “I know kung fu . . . again!” extremely cheesy? I think they could have gone a few more episodes before bringing Chuck’s abilities back. I’m interested in knowing what Chuck would have been doing for the CIA without the intersect, as Beckman mentioned.

HIMYM – Caught Up

I first started watching How I Met Your Mother back in July 2010. I’d finally seen every episode of The Big Bang Theory, and was looking for another short comedy show to watch over my half hour lunch breaks at work.

This show reeled me in with the very first episode, despite it’s cringe-worthy laugh track. The only actor in the cast I was familiar with was Neil Patrick Harris, whom I’d loved in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Being more of a Firefly/Dollhouse Joss Whedon fan, I wasn’t even aware that Lily was played by the same actress who played Willow throughout the Buffy series (I found out a few days ago).

I must admit it was Ted’s hopelessly romantic search for “the one” that pulled me into this show more than anything else. While the show is undeniably funny (although a bit too crass at times for my taste), even when some jokes fell flat I was rooting for Ted all the way.

I took a break from the show when my job ended, and was further sidetracked when the fall 2010 shows started. But I missed hanging out with Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin, and Barney, so I came back to it like a child who’d been grounded from video games for a month. And despite a few hate-worthy episodes in early season five, the show is even funnier than I remember.

And now, a few weeks later, I’ve finally caught up to where the show is on TV. No more avoiding spoilers online. I can discuss the latest episode with friends all I want. But the accomplishment has a severe drawback – I can’t watch hours of new episodes anymore. I have to wait a week or more for a slice of HIMYM’s humor like everyone else.