"How I Met Your Mother" ended its fourth season last night having moved one step tantalizingly closer to explaining the rendezvous referred to in the TV series' title. And while the mystery of how Ted (Josh Radnor) meets his match may not be answered for seasons to come, this year could mark the entry of the show into the Emmy race for best comedy series.
"How I Met Your Mother" is still, admittedly, a long shot. The show needs to place in the top six or seven with the popular vote of the academy members to land an Emmynod. During its first three years on the air, "HIMYM" failed to rank in the top 10 when run-off elections were held to determine semi-finalists before judging panels picked five nominees. This year the panels will be scrapped while the number of nominees will be expanded.
However, the cast and creative types of "HIMYM" should take some comfort in the examples of how the Emmys first treated other CBS Monday night sitcoms. It took till Season 3 for "Everybody Loves Raymond" to break into the comedy series race and then five consecutive nods before it finally won the award in 2003. It would also win for its tenth and final season in 2005. The following year "Two and a Half Men" took over the "Raymond" time slot and also its place in the Emmy lineup. This top-rated laffer has earned three consecutive nods, losing first to critical darling "The Office" in 2006 and then for the last two years to the little-watched but much loved "30 Rock."
"HIMYM" has won three successive Emmys for art direction and contended for several other technical awards. Among the talent, only Neil Patrick Harris — who plays the boorish Barney — has been Emmy nominated. He has lost the last two supporting actor races to Jeremy Piven ("Entourage"). But based on growing critical kudos, this could be the breakthrough year for the show.
Aly Semigran of Entertainment Weekly found the finale, "did what 'How I Met Your Mother' does best, which give us those tiny little hints (more on that later) without giving away the big payoff. As far as season finales go, it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, even if those last few minutes were fantastic. Maybe it was the fact that the weeks leading up had given us such wonderful little nuggets (the yellow umbrella! Stella returns!), but something about it didn't seem as fulfilling as I was hoping for (I also somewhat blame 'The Office' for filling my quota of painfully good humor and heartbreak)."
Joel Keller of TV Squad called it, "A fun ending to an interesting season. I just wonder if this semi-new direction the show is going in means that the magic we saw during the first three or so seasons is over and we're going to be seeing more of the conventional episodes we saw this year. Hopefully, even the conventional episodes are funny, so we won't have to worry about that part of it too much; funny makes up for a lot of sins, even on TV."
And for Joe Caramanica of Zap2It, "maybe the whole show's foundation is just a red herring to let its creators get away with something else: putting together the most modern and consistently fresh traditional sitcom of the last few years. Surrounded on CBS by any number of low-ambition family sitcoms and grim procedurals, 'HIMYM' is an oasis of 1990s-style urban humor, alone in its commitment to the rhythms of youngish lives in the city: the mismatched friend circles, the offhand jokes that become recurring, the belief that nothing happening elsewhere is more important than what's visible through your own periscope."