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'How I Met Your Mother: Season Five'
(Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Suit up for the hilarious Season Five of How I Met Your Mother, the outrageous, Emmy-nominated hit starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan! The show’s funniest season to date is loaded with hook-ups, break-ups, and the return of Slapsgiving— not to mention the hottest guest stars imaginable, including Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood, and Rachel Bilson.

DVD Verdict: As 'Friends' began fading from public consciousness, it left an undeniable hole in the primetime television lineup where the "group of young professionals in a big city" sitcom sits. It's a tradition that stretches back to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but it wasn't until friends that the genre commanded such fan loyalty that it was a throne worth holding.

And, wouldn't you know it, CBS, the current king of television, managed to find the perfect show to fill Friends's shoes. How I Met Your Mother follows a group of five friends in varying degrees of romantic involvement: a married couple, a man searching for his soulmate, a womanizer, and a single woman convinced she doesn't want anything long-term.

It's not rocket science, but the consistently funny writing, the unending in-jokes, and great performances by Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel, and Cobie Smulders make it one of the best plot-driven sitcoms running today.

After four seasons, with the fourth devoted almost entirely to a decoy relationship for Ted (Josh Radnor), the man ever in the process of meeting the titular mother, audiences were getting a little burnt out with the idea that the mother might be an eternally distant goal towards which the writers would head without ever getting there. And so, with the fifth season, they made it quite clear that the eventual meeting of Ted and the kids' mother was just over the horizon, even going so far as to giving us a tantalizing glimpse of her (even if it was just her ankle).

We now know Ted and the mother are inhabiting the same social circle. Yet, do we care anymore? Ted has become an increasingly annoying character whom the audience tolerates because he's part of the package deal of Marshall (Segel), Lily (Alison Hannigan), Barney (Harris), and Robin (Smulders). He's rarely funny and at his best reminds us of every obnoxious friend we've ever had who obsesses over the girl who got away while never adjusting their personality to be less the schmuck that drove the girl away in the first place. We see glimpses of a decent character in Ted, but most of the time he's just unbearable.

So why watch? When the lead character whose quest is the very name of the show, how does How I Met Your Mother keep the audience hooked? Through the other four friends. The entertaining foursome has a collection of plot points that don't just entertain but warrant some level of emotional connection. Starting with the final resolution(?) of Robin and Barney's will they-won't they drama which began mid-season 2 but started going full-steam in season 4 and culminating in Marshall and Lily taking the next big step as a married couple, it's not hard to see where the real growth amongst the show's characters is actually taking place. To make things worse for attitudes towards Ted, the characters of Barney, Marshall, and Robin are infinitely more entertaining than his.

Lily has her moments, but she's become more of a back-up character for jokes involving Robin or Marshall or the voice of maturity [read: wet blanket] that keeps some episodes grounded. As expected, Barney steals the show more often than not; Harris has become the show's de facto star in lieu of Ted's current state of being obnoxious, and the writing always tilts in his favor - and it doesn't hurt that Harris is naturally pretty funny. The show's 100th episode even comes to a head with Barney belting out a choreographed musical number about his suits; it's a great television moment.

The season as a whole is an improvement over the fourth, but until they get Ted back on track, it will never be as good as it was in its first three seasons. However, if the other four cast members hold up their end, the show's future is still brighter than most. [AW] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Music Videos
Super Date
Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit
Best Night Ever
Making of Super Date
Wedding Bride Trailer - Extended Version
Behind the Scenes of the 100th Episode
Series Recap