Among the various shows anointed as successor to Friends, only one has come close.
That show is How I Met Your Mother, the sitcom which takes an irreverent look at – you guessed it – a group of attractive chums living in plush Manhattan apartments, complete with plenty of dating, drinking and dumb jokes.
For five series now, viewers have been following the life and loves of the fivesome, hopeless romantic (and hubbie of the ‘mother’ in question) Ted, comedy cute pairing Marshall and Lily, cynical Canadian Robin and strangely endearing womanizer Barney.
We’ve followed them through bad relationships and good, marriages and mysteries, trips to bars (well, just the one) and trips to Minnesota. We’ve watched Marshall stab his fiancée during a sword fight, Robin reveal her embarrassing teenaged pop career, Barney try every bad chat-up line on the planet (and get away with them), and seen several aspects of a fantastic concept called the Slap Bet.
What we haven’t seen is the Mother. Which was OK for the first few series, but has now gone well past the point of gripping and reached the territory of ‘I want to throw something at the TV every time you give us a spoiler involving an umbrella’.
This season has been worse than ever, with constant references to her (including a very sneaky episode when we met her roommate in the form of a Rachel Bilson cameo), but there’s been no juice.
We know it’s not Stella, Robin, Britney Spears or any other of Ted’s increasing list of loves, but that’s all we know.
And the thing is, it’s getting old. How I Met Your Mother still delivers (this week’s episode on ‘hooks’, or people who you keep around ‘just in case’ was pure genius) but not always. The jokes are getting rehashed, the teasers frustrating.
In short, it’s having a mid life crisis.
That’s OK though. So did Lost, in Season 3, when the writers put Sawyer and Kate into cages for what of a better plotline. But then they set an end date for the series, and suddenly we were back on for gripping action and suspense being built up into Something.
So, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. You’ve done well, creating a comedy that actually brings laughs and scripting a group of actors who can act. It’s been fun.
But for crying out loud, work out where you’re going with it.
Because if we get to season 8, and suddenly Ted reveals ‘so, kids, in the summer of 2012 I gave up the hunt and adopted you’, there are going to be a lot of broken television sets out there.
Watch a very funny scene from the latest episode below: