Why It’s Worth A Watch Wednesday – Battle of the Network Funnies

This week, Amber West and I review a few of the more established comedies on NBC and CBS in a Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: Battle of the Network Funnies.

Who will win:  Monday nights on CBS with How I Met Your Mother and Two and Half Men or Thursday nights on NBC with Parks and Recreation and Community?

We begin with the popular sitcom, How I Met Your Mother.  Commonly abbreviated to HIMYM, the series follows the main character Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) as he narrates to his children in the year 2030 the story of how he met their mother.  Well, Josh doesn’t narrate, Bob Saget does. 

Although we’re seven seasons in, we still haven’t met the mother of Ted’s children; but we have grown to love his best friends:  Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), Marshall Erikson (Jason Segel), and Lily Aldrin Erickson (Alyson Hannigan). 

HIMYM has a true ensemble cast as each character plays just as important a role as Ted.  But why do we really love this show? 

There are the character quirks including: Barney’s womanizing ways with his “hot/crazy” scale, or his “Bro Code” justifications, or even his insisting everyone “suit up” before they go out on the town; Robin’s extensive misuse of the word ‘literally’; and Ted’s constant romantic gestures as he looks for love, including stealing a blue French horn for Robin during their courtship.

There are the enduring moments like when Ted finds out his parents are divorced; or when Marshall struggles with the decision to take a position as a corporate lawyer instead of working for an environmental cause; or when Barney sets out on a mission to learn the true identity of his father (once he discovers Bob Barker is indeed not his biological dad).

There is the comedy: Robin’s teenage Canadian pop-band flashbacks; Marshall and Barney’s on-going Slap game (Marshall earned five free slaps, and he saves them for when Barney least expects it); and the group’s hilarious interventions for one another.

But, most importantly, we love the realistic friendships between all of the characters.  We’re watching as these friends experience life together; as they celebrate Lily and Marshall’s pregnancy; as they mourn the loss of Marshall’s father; and as they bounce back from multiple broken romantic relationships.

It’s reasons like these that I award How I Met Your Mother with a MacTV rating.  As far as sitcoms go, it ranks among the best available on TV today.  Can the show survive many more seasons?  Probably not.  But will we tune in until Ted meets the mother of his children.  Absolutely. 

Oh, and before we move on, HIMYM hosts guest stars galore: Regis Philbin, Katie Holmes, Wayne Brady, Enrique Iglesias, Sarah Chalke, Britney Spears, Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Morrison, Kyle MacLachlan, John Lithgow, Kal Penn, and Martin Short just to name a few.

How I Met Your Mother is “Legen…wait for it…dary.”

A half hour later on CBS, another sitcom veteran airs on millions of television sets across the globe with Two and a Half Men.  Definitely not as enduring as HIMYM, Two and a Half Men promises comedy a bit more raunchy than anything else on TV (Archer wins most raunchy).

For the first eight seasons, Men starred Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper, the wealthy and drunken songwriter who opens his Malibu beach house to his recently divorced brother (Alan Harper played by Jon Cryer) and nephew (Jake Harper played by Angus T. Jones). 

The series follows Charlie’s sexual escapades, Alan’s incessant need to mooch off of his brother, and Jake’s hilarious adventures through childhood and the teenage years.   But, despite the title, Two and a Half Men wouldn’t be the same without the women: Alan’s ex-wife Judith (Marin Hinkle); Charlie’s foul-mouthed housekeeper Berta (Conchata Ferrell); the Charlie obsessed next door neighbor Rose (Melanie Lynskey); and the Harper matriarch, Evelyn (Holland Taylor). 

Speaking of women, the Harper brothers have dated a few familiar females over the years including Courtney Thorne-Smith, Judy Greer, and Jenny McCarthy.  Ironically, the most fruitful male/female relationship on the show is between Charlie and his therapist (played by Jane Lynch). 

We didn’t watch Men religiously until we caught the show in syndication.  For many Saturdays in a row, we sat and caught up with the Harpers, laughter guaranteed in each episode.  But, sadly, a few real life mishaps forced the show’s creator to kill off the character of Charlie and replace him with a fresh face: Ashton Kutcher. 

Season nine begins at Charlie’s funeral – and BRAVO Chuck Lorre and other Men writers.  The funeral scene was absolutely brilliant.  Many past guest stars return and ex-girlfriends applaud Charlie’s death (in a respectful, yet Charlie Harper deserved way).  The best of the half hour was undoubtedly the return of Rose and her eulogy, or was it a confession? 

After the funeral, Alan reluctantly prepares to move out of the house he can no longer afford without his brother’s money.  Suddenly, there is a wet, sad man standing on his patio.  Alan opens the door, literally and figuratively, when he meets Walden Schmidt (Kutcher) after an attempted suicide in the ocean. 

It just so happens that Walden is rich like Charlie, and agrees to buy the beach house.  Before we know it, he hires Berta to stay on as his housekeeper and he also invites Alan to move in for as long as necessary. 

Same story, new characters.

Some like the change, some don’t.  But, the new direction was enough to bring Men back to our DVR and we haven’t removed the future recording setting just yet.  For that, I award Two and a Half Men the JFTV rating.  The series isn’t great for us, but we keep digging our hand right back down into that greasy bag of chips.  Heck, before we know it, we’ll probably suffer chest pains much like Charlie’s character on multiple occasions. 

So, what do you think?  Do you watch HIMYM or Two and a Half Men?  Which network airs the best comedies: CBS or NBC? How much longer can the series last before Ted meets his future wife?  Do you like the addition of Ashton Kutcher on Men?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of NBC’s Thursday night laughs, Parks and Recreation and Community

Come back next week when Amber and I review AMC’s Mad Men and The Walking Dead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

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19 Responses to Why It’s Worth A Watch Wednesday – Battle of the Network Funnies

  1. My husband has watched both of these shows faithfully. I catch How I Met Your Mother sometimes when he’s watching it, and enjoy it to a point, but feel no need to really keep up with it. I used to watch Two and a Half Men all the time, but eventually got bored with it because it was the same old raunchy crap. One of the reasons I don’t like sitcoms that much is that so many of them depend on raunchiness or the shock factor. So they aren’t really funny. The only sitcom I care anything about is The Big Bang Theory, and I LOVE that one. Sometimes I wonder if there’s just something wrong with me, because I have a great sense of humor, but I generally don’t like sitcoms. LOL

    • I watch more sitcoms this year than I have the past few years….mainly for this Watch Wednesday review. Before I started blogging, I only watched HIMYM and even then thought the story line was carrying on a bit much and growing old. However, my guy hasn’t tired of the show and laughs just as much now as he did when the show began. It must be a guy thing.

      I love to laugh, but the sitcoms today are nothing like they once were. My next Tele-Tuesday post discusses this very topic. Thanks for stopping by, Lauralynn!

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  3. Julie Glover says:

    I love How I Met Your Mother and keep up with it. By the way, it’s one of the shows that CBS posts the last few episodes online. I love Barney’s “True Story” tales. These characters are real enough for us to relate, yet loony enough to produce some great comedy. I agree with your MacTV rating.

    As to Two and a Half Men, I watched the few first few seasons, but after that the plots felt like a rehash of the same old stuff. In HIMYM, you see some character growth; I never saw that in Two and a Half Men. I watched the first Krutcher episode and realized they were rehashing again, so I haven’t tuned in since. Great scripts, just not enough story to keep me engaged.

    • LOL – Barney’s “True Story” tales….Honestly, I think Barney is the best overall character on HIMYM. NPH is perfect – of course, he’s pretty much perfect in every performance (love him in Harold and Kumar).

      This last week’s episode of Two and a Half Men was probably the best one since the season premiere this year. Alan finally snapped and lost it, and assumed Charlie’s identity. The things coming out of his mouth….it even closed with “Winning!” I don’t know how long this story line will last, but it’s a refreshing change from whiny-Alan.

      Thanks for stopping by, Julie!

  4. Stacy Green says:

    HIMYM is pretty funny. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show for me. He’s such a great womanizer and all around jerk. Love it.

    I never could get into Two and a Half Men, even before the Masheen went crazy. There were some funny moments, but not enough to bring me back every week.

  5. K.B. Owen says:

    My 15-yr-old son is totally hooked on How I Met Your Mother, and I’ve started watching it with him! It seemed like a wierd premise at first, but it works! As far as Two and a Half Men, we don’t watch it because of the raunchy content and having kids in the house, but it’s hard to keep the teen away from that show when his little brother is around. Tiffany, can I say again (without it seeming like gushing) what a great analysis you do with this series, every week? I don’t watch a lot of the shows/films, but I always enjoy your write-up. Such a great job!

  6. My hubs and I keep thinking we need to Netflix How I Met Your Mother and probably will one of these days when we have time stretched out in front of us.

    I’m with Lauralynn ~ I love Big Bang Theory, but just can’t get into sitcoms. Over on Amber’s blog I explained that I think it’s from being traumatized as a kid with “Happy Day’s” and “Brady Bunch”. That forced laugh track gives me willies.

    • Hey, Tameri – if you do happen to find the time to Netflix HIMYM, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

      Big Bang Theory is a great sitcom; I didn’t watch initially, mainly because I didn’t catch many sitcoms at the time, but I started watching because so many of my guy friends continuously commented on how funny it was. I have to agree – plus I really like the addition of the Blossom and Rosanne former cast members. The pop culture junkie in me really appreciates things like that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Catie Rhodes says:

    After reading your review, I’m kind of sorry I’ve been missing both of these. Neil Patrick Harris is *hysterical* in the first Harold and Kumar movie. (No, we haven’t seen Harold and Kumar Christmas. We’ll have to wait for iTunes. I loathe being allergic to people’s perfume.)

    I think Ashton Kutcher is funny. I loved him as Kelso in That 70s Show. I loved him in Just Married with Brittany Murphy. We need to make a point to watch this one night. 😀

    • Catie, you and I are two of the very few who have actually admitted publicly to liking Ashton Kutcher. I personally think he’s hilarious in his comedies – That 70s Show, Just Married, What Happens in Vegas, and Killers.

      AND, I completely agree about NPH. He IS hysterical in Harold and Kumar, and he is absolutely brilliant as Barney in HIMYM. I thought he’d always be Doogie to me, but I do love me some Barney. Now, I’d love to see him on Broadway….he is so talented.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Amber West says:

    So…I haven’t kept up with HIMYM, but I do adore Neil Patrick Harris, even though it is a love that will forever go unrequited.

    As far as Two and a Half Men goes, yikes. This is the kind of sitcom I can not stand. I know it is hugely popular, but I don’t like it. I do think that Chuck Lorre knows how to write for the TV watching masses, whoever they may be. Roseanne, Dharma and Greg, Two and a Half Men…I think BBT may be the first show of his that I can watch with any regularity.

    (Great review of both, though 🙂 )

    • Thanks, Amber! I truly believe our partnership works because we don’t watch the same kind of shows, but still love hearing and appreciates what the other has to say about television.

      Chuck Lorre definitely knows how to write a popular television show. I have to admit that I didn’t know that he was responsible for Roseanne. Roseanne may just be the first television sitcom that grabbed my attention for its borderline raunchiness. It wasn’t as off-the-top as many of today’s shows, but definitely controversial for its time.

      I never watched Dharma and Greg, and now that I’m addicted to Thomas Gibson as Hotchner in Criminal Minds, I wish I had…the two characters are nothing alike. Heck, Hotch never smiles.

      **hugs**

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  10. classywithatwist says:

    I love HIMYM! But I wait until it’s on DVD and binge watch it that way rather than watching it while it’s on TV. The character’s are lovable and don’t actually go through changes like real people. In season 6 Craig & Craig made a bold choice in making the show have a darker side, with Marshall’s dad dying. But I think it worked. I never got into Two and a Half Men, I don’t understand why it’s so popular. It’s just dumb humor in my opinion.

    • Watching episodic television marathon style is our favorite too. Waiting week by week sometimes feels like torture, and sometimes even like a waste of time.

      My friends and I were shocked at the twist in Season Six surrounding Mr. Erickson’s death, but it worked – I agree with you. I also agree that Two and a Half Men is dumb humor – but sometimes that is EXACTLY what I’m looking for after a long day.

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

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