A couple of years ago, I complained that "How I Met Your Mother" had run into problems, largely because it had fallen into a holding pattern. I was actually quite dismayed when the 9th season was announced, because while I wasn't enjoying it, I felt a need to see it through to the end (see also: Wheel of Time, Song of Ice and Fire, Outlander). But I actually enjoyed most of the 9th season - the need to bring things to a close forced the writers to actually get moving and tell their story (see also: the last book of Wheel of Time), and the introduction of The Mother added a whole new dimension to the show. Good stuff.
Then they did the finale, and managed to completely blow it.
Of course, most of the discussions about the show have already been had, probably those months ago when it finished in the US, so I'll be brief. My problems with the finale were threefold:
- They casually threw away basically all of the character growth and change of the past several years. I actually complained about Barney's "growing up" those two years ago, but it was an undeniable aspect of the character, and his and Robin's relationship was pretty key. And then then threw it away, had him revert back to his former persona... and then do another 180 turn in an instant. Not good. Similarly, one of the key features of the last season was Ted's finally realising that Robin was not the one for him, and that he had to let her go. And then they turned that one around, too. Good work, there. The only characters who weren't betrayed by this were Marshall and Lily... who had basically remained constant throughout so had nothing to revert back to.
- Likewise, The Mother was very badly treated. That character had been crucial to so much in the show, even before she was seen, and then the cast and writers had done an exceptional job of showing that she and Ted were indeed right for each other (even without showing us the meeting). And there, again, she was written out in about fifteen seconds, because time was short. Again, not good.
- But the big issue was the epilogue, where it's revealed that the story's not really about how Ted met The Mother at all but, surprise!, it's all about Ted and Robin after all. And so we get a theoretical happy ending: Ted and Robin live happily ever after. But there's a massive problem with that: the show spent years making it abundantly clear that while Ted really wanted Robin to be The One, she just wasn't right for him. It had taken him an awful lot to realise that, and caused a huge amount of heartbreak along the way (messing up all sorts of stuff between them), but it was true: Robin just was not right for Ted - he was in love with an imagined version of her, not the reality. (I think perhaps the issue here was that their hands were tied by virtue of having filmed the scene with the kids a decade ago, and couldn't reshoot due to them aging in the meantime. But while this explains the problems, it doesn't so readily excuse them.)
So, anyway, that's that. And now I have another gap in my TV schedule to fill - counting everything there are maybe only half a dozen shows to watch all year.