REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 4

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Regis Philbin (Shrek The Third)
Darcy Rose Byrnes (Desperate Housewives)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Dan Lauria (The Spirit)
Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Dark Ride)
Krista Kalmus (Veronica Mars)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Adam Paul (One For The Money)
Courtney Ford (Legends of Tomorrow)
Candace Moon (Speed Demon)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Timeforce)
Kim Kardashian West (2 Broke Girls)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Eileen Seton (Dakota Skye)
Jordan Masterson (Last Man Standing)
Frances Conroy (Catwoman)
Brooke D’Orsay (Two and a Half Men)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Hayes MacArthur (Super Troopers 2)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Italia Ricci (Supergirl)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Ron Roggé (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)

Jason Segel and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)The Ted-Robyn relationship provided much of the ongoing story arc for the first three seasons; In season Three Ted embarked on a romance with Stella (guest star–and Scrubs regular–Sarah Chalke) that provides that year with a cliffhanger–will she accept Ted’s marriage proposal? Well, spoiler alert, she does. But this stroke of happiness for our Ted is short-lived; their rushed wedding, in episode five, ends with Stella leaving Ted at the altar following a reconciliation with her ex. Bruised and a little battered, Ted spends the remainder of the season mostly playing the field; this year’s will-they-or-won’t-they involves not Robin and Ted, but Robin and Barney, who slept together at the end of season three, leading to–shockingly and alarmingly–a genuine flush of romantic feelings by the notorious womanizer.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Regis Philbin, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)By this point in its run, How I Met Your Mother has settled into a comfortable routine, and I mean that in a good way; the show is in the character-comedy mold of Seinfeld and Friends (its two clearest influences), and like those shows, the situations get funnier, the more familiar we are with the characters. The series’ ingenious structure and inventive narrative tricks also continue to entertain; the hopscotching timelines of the “Three Days of Snow” and “The Front Porch” episodes are outstanding, while the clever flashbacks of “Sorry, Bro” build to some big laughs. Other standout episodes include “I Heart NJ,” which perfectly encapsulates the love/hate relationship between island-dwelling New Yorkers and commuters from the Garden State; “The Best Burger in New York,” a fine portrait of New York foodie-ism (and how to best utilize a Regis Philbin guest shot); and “The Stinsons,” which reveals one of Barney’s more peculiar secrets.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Sarah Chalke, Jason Segel, and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)But the season’s finest episode, without question, is “Murtaugh,” centered on Ted’s “Murtaugh List”–i.e., a list of things that would fall under Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon catchphrase, “I’m getting too old for this shit” (the replacement of “shit” with “stuff” in the story that aged Ted is telling his children is a particularly nice touch). It’s a funny idea (and dovetails nicely with the season-long running theme of aging; there’s 30th birthdays all around this season), well-developed, and the episode’s B-plot includes an homage to Teen Wolf, so what else could you ask for? Radnor and Smulders, continue to develop into engaging, charismatic comic actors. Hannigan and Segal’s chemistry remains one of the show’s biggest assets. But Harris’ Barney Stinson remains the show’s comic gold mine, and the skilled thespian uses the season-long Robin crush to lend some additional pathos to the character. His desperation reaches a fever pitch in the wonderful “Benefits” episode, in which new roommates Ted and Robin end up sleeping together to end domestic arguments, leading jealous Barney to start dropping by with groceries and pitching in on household chores–all the better to keep tempers smooth and to keep the “friends” out of each other’s pants.Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)How I Met Your Mother remains one of the most consistently, reliably funny series on network television. Season four finds the show continuing in fine form, taking its characters in interesting new directions and providing its talented cast with a prime showcase for their crackerjack comic skills.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 3

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Tina Majorino (Waterworld)
Michael Muhney (The Young and the Restless)
Julie Gonzalo (Cherry Rush)
Chris Lowell (GLOW)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Patrick Fabian (Better Call Saul)
Jason Beghe (One Missed Call)
Charisma Carpenter (Angel)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
James Jordan (Destroyer)
Andrew McClain (Alienate)
Rodney Rowland (Legacies)
David Tom (Swing Kids)
Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds)
Rider Strong (Cabin Fever)
Chastity Dotson (Patriot)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Samllville)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Ryan Devlin (Izombie)
Armie Hammer (The Lone Ranger)
Lindsey McKeon (One Tree Hill)
Krista Kalmus (Fired Up!)
Ed Begley Jr. (A Mighty Wind)
Parry Shen (Hatchet II)
Robert Ri’chard (House of Wax)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Blake Shields (Heroes)
Ryan Pinkston (Will & Grace)
Jaime Ray Newman (Bates Motel)
Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Dianna Agron (Glee)
Laura San Giacomo (Pretty Woman)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Michael Grant Terry (Bones)
Sandra McCoy (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Charles Shaughnessy (Sabrina: TTW)
Patricia Hearst (Cry-Baby)
David Blue (Stargate Universe)
Jamie Chung (The Gifted)
Eric Jungmann (Not Another Teen Movie)
Brittany Ishibashi (Runaways)
Brianne Davis (Six)
Amanda Noret (She’s Out of His Mind)
Chris Ellis (Armageddon)
Carlee Avers (The Changed)
Toni Trucks (Grimm)
Juliette Goglia (Mike & Molly)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Anthony Azizi (Lost)
Jack McGee (Gangster Squad)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
Duane Daniels (First Strike)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Suzanne Cryer (Two Guys and a Girl)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The BEast)
Tangie Ambrose (Why Him?)
Patrick Fischler (Birds of Prey)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Jim Jansen (A.I.)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2004)In its third season, Veronica Mars steps away from any season-length stories. Slightly truncated to twenty episodes, season three is neatly grouped into three distinct chunks of episodes. The season opens with Veronica settling into her freshman year at Hearst College, but the campus continues to be plagued by a spree of sexual assaults. Mac’s bubbly roommate Parker (Julie Gonzalo) is the latest victim to be roofied and raped, with the attacker leaving his calling card by shaving her head. Having suffered through the past couple of years as a rape victim herself and unwittingly in a position to have caught Parker’s rapist during the attack, Veronica’s grim determination to put an end to this reign of terror makes up the first and the lengthiest of the season’s arcs.The season’s second arc picks up a couple of months after the grisly final shot of “Spit and Eggs” as the police have shrugged off the death of someone close to Veronica as a suicide.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)A devastating emotional blow delivered just hours earlier, a gunshot to the temple, a vague suicide note typed on a PC…it’s tragic, yes, but the pieces fit neatly together just the same. Still, it’s a scenario lifted directly from a paper Veronica penned for her criminology class on how to commit the perfect murder. Throughout the course of their investigation, Veronica and her father become entangled in a pair of other murders, among them the death of one of Veronica Mars’ most enduring characters.Facing cancellation and attempting to make the largely serialized series more accessible to new viewers, Veronica Mars draws to a close with a set of five standalone episodes. There aren’t any overarching investigations, although some threads leak from one episode to the next, including a sheriff’s race between Keith Mars and an unlikely contender.The season premiere introduces two other Hearst students who’d go on to stick around for the rest of the year: Wallace’s roommate Stosh “Piz” Piznarski (Chris Lowell) and Mac’s roomieuntitledThe hunt for Hearst’s rapist, which runs for the nine of the season’s twenty episodes, is the highest point of the set. It’s the most engaging of the season’s various arcs, which is impressive considering that these episodes have to juggle the weekly mysteries, the overarching search for the rapist, and introduce the new characters and Hearst College as a whole. There seems to be some connection between the rapes and the Greek system at Hearst, pitting Veronica against a group of feminists determined to bring the frats down, forcing her to defend the same lecherous halfwits she thought were tied to the rapes last season, and clawing her way into the Zeta Theta Beta house.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)This first half of the season also gives the supporting cast a reasonable amount of screentime, including Wallace and Logan on opposite ends of an Abu Ghraib-inspired prison experiment, Logan stumbling onto a life-changing discovery when trying to find out why his trust fund is dwindling so quickly, and Keith making the same sorts of excuses with a married client as the skeevy men whose infidelities pay his rent. The arc comes to a close with “Spit and Eggs”, which, in true Veronica Mars form, plays like more of a thriller than a mystery, and it’s by far the most intense episode of the season. Veronica Mars was an excellent a show spread across 3 seasons and become a great cult show, and with the arrival of the movie saw resurgence in its popularity.

REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 8

Starring

Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The House)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
Courtney Thorne-Smith (Melrose Place)
Graham Patrick Martin (Major Crimes)
Kelly Stables (The Ring Two)
Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)
J.D. Walsh (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Liz Vassey (The Tick)
Krista Kalmus (Veronica Mars)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Macey Cruthird (HOpe & Faith)
Carl Reiner (Oceans Eleven)
Jenny McCarthy (Dirty Love)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)

MV5BMjE1MTY5MjAzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjAwODM5Mw@@._V1_Season 8 was filmed at the time Charlie Sheen had his meltdown. What is interesting is that although the real-life Charlie now seems to be a lot like the onscreen Charlie, the onscreen Charlie is a lot happier, a lot more care-free, a comic rather than tragic figure. But enough of the psycho-analysis, what’s the show like, given that this is Charlie’s last season?MV5BNzA5MjIzMTMxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTYxNDUwNA@@._V1_Alan and Charlie are of course the classic comedy duo – the uptight dweeb and the anarchic, cool, funny guy – and although it is played very broadly and superficially, they are presented as essentially good, likeable characters. Jake remains a bit-player throughout the season, never really given any room to shine, which is a shame, but well-judged and very funny cameos from Jane Lynch, Ryan Stiles and Judd Nelson help break up the at times repetitive and derivative interplay between the leads.MV5BNzg4MjQ1NDUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMzODcwNA@@._V1_The season opener is a stand-alone, but after that a series of plots lines are introduced which play out over a number of episodes, which proves much more satisfying. Most enjoyable are the episodes that involve Alan’s developing relationship with Lyndsey, the mother of one of Jake’s class-mates. It is one of those situations that is not milked to death, but is allowed to become at times desperately painful and embarrassing, but also very funny and enjoyable.MV5BNzM4Mzg0MDM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzE1Njc3MjE@._V1_The season seems to end awfully abruptly with the collapse of Alan’s Ponzi scheme and the various loose ends of Charlie’s relationship with his stalker, this was due to the fireing of Charlie Sheen and paved the way for Season 9 with a new lead.