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HTF DVD REVIEW: How I Met Your Mother: Season 3 (Highly Recommended)

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#1 of 1 Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer

  • 10,248 posts
  • Join Date: May 09 2002
  • Real Name:Cameron Yee
  • LocationSince 2006

Posted October 04 2008 - 10:22 AM

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Release Date: October 7, 2008
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Packaging/Materials: Slim cases with cardboard slipcover
Year: 2008
Rating: N/A
Running Time: 7h09m
MSRP: $39.98

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video1.78:1 anamorphic1.33:1 standard
AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1Stereo
SubtitlesEnglish, French, SpanishNone


The Season: 4.5/5
When CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother" premiered in 2005, it presented an interesting, though possibly unsustainable, narrative tack. In 2030 middle-aged Ted Mosby (presented only in vocal form by an uncredited Bob Saget) decides to tell his teenage children how he met and fell in love with their mother. But fully embracing the notion of "it's not what it's about, it's how it's about it," the show kept her identity a mystery and filled its episodes with often indirectly related misadventures of 20-something Ted (Josh Radnor) and friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders). While at times feeling too coy or outright manipulative in order to sustain the mystery, the show is commendable for putting a spin on the standard sitcom/romcom formula. Its slightly racy and sometimes absurd brand of humor - personified by the show's most popular character, Barney - also goes a long way towards forgiving the writers' rather liberal interpretation of the word "how." In fact, if not for the supporting characters and their respective foibles and fates, the show would have reached its limit long ago. As it is, the series - now in its fourth season and still going strong - has become a hilarious and poignant fusion of "Friends," "The Wonder Years" and "When Harry Met Sally." If you've yet to see the show, I can't recommend it enough - it's really one of the best sitcoms to be made in the post-"Friends" and "Seinfeld" era.

"How I Met Your Mother: Season 3" includes all 20 episodes from 2007-2008, a season when the show really hit its stride despite being shortened by the 2007 Writer's Strike. With one major possibility of the Mother's identity resolved, the show was able to turn in a consistently strong set of episodes, even managing to pull off ones with some rather shameless stunt casting. The third season also gave us much-anticipated followups to previous season favorites - another Robin Sparkles music video and additional payments in the Marshall-Barney slap bet. Most importantly, it brought in a promising potential Mother that everyone could root for, though it remains unclear whether it will indeed be her. If it isn't, and the identity remains elusive, the show risks alienating fans who have lived with the coyness and mystery through three seasons. Though the revelation might signal the end of a great show, better to go out in peak form and with fans mourning the loss than to wear out the welcome and be shoved out the door. Given some rather thoughtful developments at the end of season three, and the strength of this season's episodes so far, I have great faith in the writers to give what both the show and its fans deserve.


Video Quality: 4/5
Watching seven of the 20 episodes (two from Disc One, two from Disc Two and three from Disc Three), I found contrast, black levels and color consistent with the show's weekly high definition broadcast. Though detail is naturally not as high on DVD, overall sharpness and detail are still quite good. The one area where there's an issue - and this is something I've always noticed with the show - is black crush in the more dimly lit scenes, usually taking place in McLaren's Bar. The more evenly lit environments like the characters' different apartments look fine, though my personal preference would be to see everything just a bit brighter and with more contrast. Nevertheless, the transfer offers a very good presentation of the show as fans are used to seeing from week-to-week.


Audio Quality: 3.5/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is mostly filled with dialogue and as such sounds very clean and intelligible. Surround and LFE channels perk up with the show's theme song and additional music, and there's some left-right directionality with things like swoosh edits, but on the whole it's a center channel experience.


Special Features: 5/5

The special features are spread across all three discs and have great breadth, variety and replay value.

Disc One

Series Retrospective Featurette (2m44s): Clip-filled recap of the first two seasons.

Lily and Marshall's Honeymoon Video: Four home videos, totaling around 11 minutes, chronicle Marshall and Lily's Scotland honeymoon that becomes less than ideal because of Marshall's obsession with the Loch Ness Monster.

Cast Favorites Featurette (5m00s): The major cast members talk about their favorite episodes thus far.

Behind the Scenes of "We're Not From Here" Featurette (5m43s): Video footage from table reads, rehearsals and various aspects of production on an episode that included a flash forward to an old Marshall and Lily and Robin interacting with her "vacation self."

Additional Scenes: How It Really Happened (8m33s): Six additional scenes mostly revolving around sex.


Disc Two

Audio commentary with show co-creator Carter Bays, director Pam Fryman and editor Sue Federman: The trio start off talking about how the Writer's Strike affected the show in general and the episode in particular. They also share a few tame spoilers and Federman reveals that the laugh track actually comes from real audience laughter from the first season.

Audio commentary with show co-creator Carter Bays and actors Josh Radnor and Sarah Chalke: A somewhat livelier track, it's also not as "on task" as the previous one. The information most will be interested in is how a certain pop star came to be cast in the episode and how it was to work with her. Unfortunately there's not much scuttlebutt there.

"You Just Got Slapped" Music Video (1m52s): Full version of Marshall's slap-themed music video.

Unrated Gag Reel (11m12s): Production bloopers with some "blue" language.


Disc Three

Out of the five (!) audio commentaries on the final disc I listened to the ones for "Sandcastles in the Sand" (featuring show co-creator Craig Thomas, Smulders, Fryman and writer Kourtney Kang) and "Everything Must Go" (featuring Hannigan and consulting producer Jonathan Groff). The first is another "hang out" type commentary, though it's forgiveable given the plentiful laughs. The second is more informative, being the first post-strike episode and second episode with guest star Britney Spears. Commentaries are also available for episodes "The Bracket," "The Chain of Screaming" and "Miracles."

"Ted Mosby is A Jerk" Audio Track: The 20-minute revenge song from tedmosbyisajerk.com set to the relevant episode, "The Bracket."

Robin Sparkles "Sandcastles in the Sand" Music Video (3m43s): The complete music video for Robin Sparkles's love ballad, featuring Smulders as Sparkles, James Van Der Beek as the Boyfriend and a cameo from Tiffany. Unfortunately it's not in anamorphic widescreen as it is in the episode.


Recap

The Season: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
Special Features: 5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

Excellent CBS sitcom gets very good audio and video treatment and an impressive special features package. Highly recommended.
One thing leads to another at cameronyee.com





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