Monday, May 07, 2007

Mother vs. Christine Death Match

CBS hasn't come out and said anything one way or the other, but it's looking as if the network will only keep either "New Adventures of Old Christine" or "How I Met Your Mother" next season, but not both.

Both shows are solid, but unspectacular in the ratings, and neither approaches the numbers of "2 1/2 Men" or "Rules of Engagement." Since CBS seems to be limiting its comedy offerings to Monday nights from 8-10 p.m. and the rest of the time devoting itself to procedurals, there is very limited space for a sitcom to make it with them.

It's a shame really, since both "Christine" and "HIMYM" have a lot to offer and are two of the better sitcoms on TV. "Christine" offers the inimatble Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who deservedly earned an Emmy last season, with a solid supporting cast. The structure of the show is vaguely reminiscent of early "Frasier," with the supporting cast playing off the featured star.

But "HIMYM" has now moved into a tie with "The Office" as my favorite sitcom. When the show first came out, I thought the producers made a mistake by introducing the Ted-Robin romance early on, only to throw in the twist that Robin was the titular mother the show is supposed to be about.

The show, however, deftly handled the romantic complications of the main couple while building a terrific supporting cast that soon evolved into a "Friends"-like structure. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the show is the pop culture status it's attaining through certain plotlines - Robin Sparkles, the slap bets, the Barneyisms.

CBS was kind enough to send me the season finales for both shows, and each is in rare form. Christine faces the consequences of sleeping with her ex-husband, while Marshall and Lily's wedding on "HIMYM" attempts to take place despite numerous glitches. And the Ted-Robin romance undergoes a significant change.

"Christine's" finale feels like a season finale, as if the show could return next season. "HIMYM" acts as both a season finale and a series finale in case the show isn't renewed. If it is the end, it would be a shame, because there is a lot of territory for these characters to explore.

Here's a suggestion for CBS: Keep them both. If there isn't enough room on the fall schedule, air one and let the other serve as a midseason replacement. With the year-round programming the networks now face thanks to the challenges presented by cable TV, neither CBS nor anyone can afford to dump a quality show even with a full schedule.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) is going to have a hard time topping last week's trip to the future, but I have faith in the producers to keep the show as riveting as it has been all season. It's ironic that the one complaint I hear about this series - that it's giving away too many answers too early - is the exact opposite complaint of "Lost." Make up your minds, people.

"24" (Fox, 9 p.m.) continues to stumble its way through the season, with its producers already promising sweeping changes for next season. We'll see.


Jonathan said...

Along with The Office and 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother is at the top of the Quality Sitcom pile this season, and I think it was last season as well. I've only heard good things about "Christine," but have just never been able to fit it in my schedule based on when it's on. But the few times I've seen it it's been very entertaining. Even though they would never do it, it would be nice to not have to suffer through the unoriginality and charmless 2 and a Half Men any longer. However, being the top rated sitcom on television, you're not getting canceled anytime soon, but that doesn't make us viewers with good taste wish it any less.

Phillip Ramati said...

It's weird what becomes a hit and what doesn't. I can almost understand the success of 2 1/2 Men, but I don't see any reason why Rules of Engagement became a hit.

Christine is one of those shows you really don't have to catch every week. HIMYM is a can't-miss for me.

zodin2008 said...

"How I Met Your Mother" for my money is right on an equivalent level with "30 Rock" and "The Office" as the funniest shows on Television, bar none. So if it comes down to "Mother" vs. "Christine", I am rooting for "Mother" without hesitation.

That being said, though I don't watch "Christine", no one doubts it quality from the Television Reviewers & Emmy nominations, and it continues to utterly amaze me that the 2 CBS sitcoms with the ratings and audience power are the childish, badly written shows like "Rules" and "Men" and yet THOSE are the shows of the ratings.

The bottomline: either keep both shows and just focus on developing Dramas or let one come back mid season but if "Mother" (and "Jericho", the only other CBS show I watch, period) goes away, I am D-O-N-E with CBS. End of story. They cannot cancel this fantastic show.

And by the way, Phillip, you got one thing wrong: "Mother" is better then "Friends".

Phillip Ramati said...

When I make the comparison with Friends, it's a compliment - Friends is one of the top sitcoms of all time. I may prefer HIMYM, but it has a long way to go before it is considered the classic Friends is.