Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 12:15 am est

‘Mother’ spinoff shows lack of fresh ideas

Posted on December 4, 2013 | by Bob Teoh

Courtesy of CBS

The Hollywood Reporter recently confirmed that CBS greenlit a “How I Met Your Mother” spin-off that will be called “How I Met Your Dad.” The show will be produced by the same creators, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, but “Up All Night” creator Emily Spivey will also contribute.

Aside from the alarmingly unoriginal title, this show could certainly have delighted fans three years ago. But, with the rather tedious and disappointing final season chipping away at the show’s fan base, it’s quite clear “How I Met Your Mother” has been on the air too long, and a spin-off is far from the best idea. While it is understandable that network executives wish to hold on to their most successful shows and capitalize on their influence by developing spin-offs, the diminishing popularity of once-great shows like “How I Met Your Mother” might make them think twice.

Characterized by its goofy humor and talented cast, “How I Met Your Mother” has enjoyed a large and dedicated fanbase. However, the general consensus about the ninth season, which covers the events of a single weekend, is that it is unnecessarily long, repetitive and dull.

While the actors’ performan-ces are still delightful to watch, after nine seasons the quirkiness has worn off, and the newest episodes can barely elicit a chuckle. Now that production for an exact replica of the show told from a female perspective is on the way, it is hard not to be concerned that this show would battle NBC’s “Joey” as the worst spin-off idea in television history. Although network executives know to stay with what works best, the increasingly sophisticated demographics also mean that lack of originality is far from appreciated.

Other critically acclaimed shows that attempted to reap in extra dollars by staying on air have also turned praise into criticism. “Homeland” was revered in its first season, but the show has faced a number of detractors after its initial plot was extended into a much less favored seasons two and three.

The spin-off feels like little less than a cash grab on CBS’s part to hold onto “Mother’s” young audience, which the network’s other shows rarely command. With the possibility of McLaren’s Pub remaining as part of “Dad” and a cast of similarly-aged characters, little will separate this spin-off from its parent show. “Mother” became a beloved comedy in its early years for the novelty of its storytelling, but, even before this largely derided final season, the show faced criticism for drawing out its central mystery for far too long. The show’s trajectory over the last several years does not bode well for an almost identical followup.

On the other hand, some shows know when to call it quits and end on a high note — “Breaking Bad,” for example,  ended its run despite increased viewership and praise for the sake of its story and characters.

Critics are much more optimistic about the “Breaking Bad” spin-off, “Better Call Saul.” Not only does showrunner Vince Gilligan know when to end a story, he wisely chose the character that has the most room for development. And while “How I Met Your Dad” may offer a brand new cast of characters, its lack of any fresh structure or likely comedic style showcases exactly how not to produce a spin-off. When considering both of these shows, one cannot help but wonder how disastrous the spin-off of the dwindling “How I Met Your Mother” could be.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Dec. 3 print edition. Bob Teoh is a staff writer. Email him at


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