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What TV Does Best

Last night, I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother called, “The Wedding Bride.”  If you don’t watch the show, that title is probably meaningless to you.  It may be meaningless even if you do watch the show.

See, “The Wedding Bride” was a throw-away joke from an episode last year, “As Fast as She Can.”  Future Ted mentions in passing that a very minor character would one day write a film called, you guessed it, “The Wedding Bride.”  It wasn’t mentioned again until last night, where the entire episode was based around watching that movie.

That’s some real Lost shit right there.

It’s particularly notable in a genre where status quo is God.  Not long ago, I caught a rerun of Friends where the C plot centered on Joey hating people taking food off his plate, or eating food off someone else’s.  I never watched the show religiously, but that particular quirk seemed like it would stand out in my memory.

Sure enough, the next day, I saw an episode where Joey casually grabs a bite off someone else’s plate, the joke being that he’s so ignorant of his surroundings as to not realize this is rude.

So, yeah.

What I hate about that, and what I love about HIMYM, is that continuity is the one thing television does better than movies.  The truth is, a feature film is a lot more like a short story than a novel.  Every word, or every shot, has to count for something.  The story must always be moving forward.  You can’t have more than eight or ten characters, because the audience will burn through the whole story in a couple of hours, probably in one sitting.

But television series, like novels, can meander.  Sure, there’s a central theme, and a limited number of principal characters, but you can also digress from the main thread, develop a larger world, focus on secondary, tertiary, and whatever-means-fourth-iary character for a time.

As much as shows like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly have pushed the boundaries of effects on television, they’re still nothing compared to Iron Man 2. What they can do is spend forty-five minutes exploring the back story of the fifth lead.

This might be the nerdiest post I've ever written.
It really is.

The creators of How I Met Your Mother understand the best comedy comes from understanding the characters. Running gags like “Wedding Bride” are not only funny, but they reinforce in the audience the fact that the characters are learning and growing over time, right along with us.

On a side note, if someone out there knows any of the producers on How I Met Your Mother, go ahead and show them this post.  Maybe all this ass-kissing will help land me a job.  🙂

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One Response

  1. I agree that TV does this better than film, but I don’t think it’s the *only* thing TV does better than film. For instance, I think TV is often better at portraying relationships (especially how they grow and change over time) than film.

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